I can't start heavily criticizing Mats since he is not the first player to do what he is doing: sitting for half a season before deciding where he wants to play. But I have to say, it is completely wrong for athletes to do this.
I'll be the first to admit that I really do not know too much about other sports such as baseball, basketball, or football. I know the basics and what's happening in the news, but I can't say I remember the last time a player in those leagues sat for half a year before deciding, "hey, I want to win a championship, whom shall I choose?" However I've noticed that it's become a growing trend in hockey.
I'm not talking about players that come out of retirement, because that happens in all sports (and can be a whole blog in itself). I'm talking about guys who either can't decide if they still have the fire and will to play another 82+ games, or the ones who know they want to play but sit around so half the work is out of the way and sign a contract in December/January. It started with guys like Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer. Teemu was on the brink of retirement, but Scott was only in his early mid-thirties. He easily could have played another year or two (which is evident since he's still playing) but he decided to wait until December to decide what he wanted to do. Ironically it was closer to playoff time with the Ducks moving up in the standings. Then Teemu followed as well, which I think was just as wrong as Niedermayer's lack of decision making. It also puts your team, in this case the Ducks, in a position where they can't decide who they will or will not sign since they are unsure if some of their more reliable skaters will be returning. It was selfish and this pretty much set the standard for big name veteran UFA's.
I sincerely have to ask without insulting Mats, but what has he done that deserves so much attention? There's no doubt that he is one of the better players in the game, and when he was in his prime he was incredible...but he's not that player anymore. Throw in that he's missed the first 30 games or so. With rumors circulating that the Rangers might trade someone important like Gomez so they can land an aging veteran who probably won't stay after this season, how do you think fans feel about that? If it were the Islanders I'd be furious. Same if I was a Canucks fan.
I can only imagine how Leafs fans feel. I remember Sundin stating that he wouldn't waive his No Trade Clause because he couldn't picture himself anywhere but Toronto. It was his home, where he lived, yada yada yada. How quickly was that thrown out the door? Yes, management did go through an overhaul, but the Leafs could have cashed in big with picks and prospects at last year's trade deadline but didn't because of those words, and now his signing with another team could damage their future as well since most teams will have to make trades to free up cap space.
The NHL should introduce a clause that you have to sign a contract by a certain date after the conclusion of the summer free-agency period unless you are suffering from some sort of injury that may keep you out of the race. Wang does it and enforces it as well...remember Bergenheim playing a year in Sweden because a contract wasn't in place before the start of the season? I doubt the NHL will do that though. The media has had so much fun with this and it has drawn so much attention to the league its ridiculous. Quite frankly, I'm sick of it.
Let's place bets, who's going to be the aging vet to do it next year?
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