Money talk, and the latest on Gaborik, Sundin and Alfredsson

October, 25, 2008
10/25/08
10:01
PM ET
We're in tough economic times, but NHL players will get a nice surprise sometime over the next month: A big fat check from their teams.

The final tally is in from last season's escrow calculations, and the net result is that each player will earn 100.66 percent of their 2007-08 contract. The players had put behind 9.5 percent of their paychecks all of last season, but will get it all back plus a bit more. The escrow fund is used to help balance things either way at the end of each season. Some years, the owners have to pay back a bit more; other years, the players pony up. This season, the players are owed 57 percent of the revenue pie. But because of the bad economic times, the NHL Players' Association has decided -- I think wisely -- to have the players fork out more in escrow, at least for the first quarter of the season: 13.5 percent. Better to be safe than sorry and not owe the owners a huge chunk of cash next year.

The NHL and global economics
Keep in mind that despite the financial crisis, the NHL has about 70 percent of its yearlong revenues already in the bank -- season tickets, sponsorship deals, TV deals, etc. So the big barometer on league revenues going forward this season is how low the Canadian dollar sinks (Canadian NHL clubs accounted for 35 percent of team revenues last season -- they pay their players in U.S. dollars) and how individual game-day ticket sales fare the rest of the season. In other words, it's still too early to tell whether or not the salary cap will go up, stay the same, or go down.

More on the goalie captaincy debate
I mentioned in my GMs meeting blog Thursday night that the goalie captaincy issue was a no-go, but apparently it's not totally dead. While the issue wasn't universally embraced Thursday ("mixed reaction," said one NHL GM), I'm told Vancouver GM Mike Gillis, who named Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo captain, plans to bring it up again at the two-day GMs meeting in March and press the issue again. That's the annual meeting where actual rule changes get voted on. And, quite frankly, why shouldn't the rule be changed? As long as you say the goalie captain can't cross the blue line to argue calls, I think it's time the rule is changed.

Marian Gaborik update
Just for the record, Marian Gaborik's agent denies all those reports that his camp has rejected offers like $70 million over seven years and $80 million over eight years.

"That's definitely inaccurate," Ron Salcer told ESPN.com on Saturday. "Marian has been a solid soldier for the city and the team. It's tough when you get to a point in your career when you're going to be an unrestricted free agent and everybody starts speculating and treating him as though he's a greedy guy.

"Listen, let's be honest, it's going to be a lot of money no matter what happens. I mean, $1 million is a lot of money, $50 million is a lot of money. It's all a lot of money because that's what athletes do, they're the best in the world at what they do. Eventually things will get done. Whatever transpires here ... we're not opposed to anything."

It's been three weeks now since the Minnesota Wild and the Gaborik camp have held contract talks.

Quick hits
• Contract talks finally resumed this past week between the Ottawa Senators and their captain, Daniel Alfredsson, marking their first talks since Oct. 4 in Stockholm. If Alfredsson plays 70 games and gets 70 points, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Both sides want to get this done, although the process got off to a shaky start when owner Eugene Melnyk cited the global economic crisis as reason to be careful in these talks. Get him signed, Eugene! He's the face of your franchise.

• Sources tell ESPN.com that USA Hockey will announce Monday that Buffalo will host the 2011 World Junior Championship. Fantastic host city. Great hockey fans in western New York, plus they'll get the puck heads from southern Ontario. Should be a great event.

• Is there an NHL team that gets stranger injuries than St. Louis? First, it was Erik Johnson in a golf cart incident. Then, Chris Mason had an emergency appendectomy. And on Friday night, Manny Legace tripped on the red carpet set out for Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's puck ceremony before the game and injured himself. "It is weird, it's just weird. But you just have to persevere and get through it, there's nothing you can do about it," Blues president John Davidson told ESPN.com on Saturday. Luckily, Legace is only day to day with a muscle pull.

• Add Chicago to the list of teams with interest in free agent Mats Sundin, who is down in Los Angeles working out for the next month or so. The Blackhawks join the Maple Leafs, Rangers, Flyers, Canucks, Lightning, Islanders and Senators as teams with varying degrees of interest.

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