Imagine for a moment that you’re an L.A. Kings fan, or a Buffalo Sabres fan, or even an Atlanta Thrashers fan. Now imagine you died tomorrow. That would suck, huh? Not so much the dying thing, but the fact that you died and never got to see your team win the Stanley Cup.
Where am I going with this? Glad you asked! I woke up this morning to see that Chicago officially walked away from Antti Niemi’s $2.75mm arbitration award. They did this in favor of signing 35 year-old goaltender Marty Turco for one year, $1.3mm. That’s a savings of $1.45mm, which puts things into pretty clear perspective for the us; it’s that bad in Chicago. They can’t spare anything.
I mean, you can’t waste $1.45mm on the guy that was in net while you lifted the Stanley Cup? Retaining a young starter, potentially a franchise keeper isn’t worth making that much room? I could understand if the guy got $3.5mm+, but $2.75 is incredibly fair. Anyone who read Trent Kondo’s piece on this subject has an idea of what the Chicago fanbase must be feeling.
This thing happens all the time. Teams get into tight financial situations and have to cut loose players they’d like to keep. Yet, this is different. This team just rose to prominence. This team just won the Stanley Cup! It’s not supposed to happen to them.
My real point is this; is winning the Stanley Cup worth all of this? I know the Carolina Hurricanes motto the year they won it all was, “Whatever It Takes.” Does that “Whatever” translate to “Mortgaging your future for your present?” Some teams have never had a sniff at the Cup, would they be willing to endure this kind of team destruction? Is this the equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face?
I know Carolina fans and I know they wouldn’t give up that Cup for the world. Seeing how hard it is to repeat and what has happened to the team since 2006, I can imagine they’d tell Chicago fans that it’s worth it. Enjoy the Cup.
Still, this feels different. This doesn’t feel like a team that won the Cup, has some money issues, and now has to make some changes in order to compete again. This feels like gross negligence. Byfuglien, Ladd, Eager, Sopel, Versteeg, and Niemi. How could Tallon not see that this would happen? Or did he just not care? Did he say, “We’ll deal with that later?”
When it comes down to it, kudos to the Blackhawks. They were the best team this past season and won the Cup. Maybe I’ve just been mired in the Kings rebuild for so long that I have the phrase, “Build a contender for years to come,” drilled into my head. Maybe that’s not the way every team conducts their team building process. Nowhere does it say that a team has to be a contender every year, but Chicago has just got hyped up on their team again. Games are on TV, the United Center is sold out, they’re a team of prominence again. What happens if this de-building process cripples them again?
If this were a surefire strategy to win a Cup, I think more teams would be doing this. The problem is, nothing is surefire in hockey. Imagine for a second that the Hawks didn’t lift the Cup, but lost to Philly in 6 or 7 games. Then they have to blow up their team. That would be an absolute disaster. Half the team is gone and you don’t have a Championship to assuage your pain. All in the difference of 1 or 2 games.
So the question I pose to you is this; would you sacrifice half of your team for a shot at winning it all, or would you stick to building a contender for several years to come?
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney