Somewhere in Sweden right now, Jonathan “The $hitbox” Ericsson is sitting at a table, licking an envelope and carefully placing a stamp on the front of it. He’s taking his time writing the name and address on the front, being careful not to accidentally poke himself with the pen or get a papercut on the corner of the envelope. Next to him is a full stack of letters that look exactly like the one he’s addressing at this very moment, although a number of them have landed on the floor at odd angles. You might call it a “mess.” As he finishes with his final letter, he scoops to pick up the rest of the stack and predictably hits his head on the corner of the table. Shaking the stars out of his field of vision, the names “Ken Holland”, “Mike Ilitch”, and every non UFA and RFA defenseman in the NHL come back into view on the now crumpled and mangled pile of postage. As he turns, he trips on the rug and begins to fall, all the while trying to throw the letters in the general direction of the mailman waiting impatiently at the door. Some go wildly high. Some get blocked by the kitchen table. One even lands in the mouth of his dog, who takes off the other way. As $hitbox tries to block his path, the dog jukes around him and has a wide open lane to the waiting water bowl, where Niklas Kronwall’s letter gets neatly deposited in six inches of hydration and dog saliva.
These are Jonathan Ericsson’s “thank you” notes. This man is now worth $3.25 million for the next three seasons. Savor that.
While all signs throughout the day pointed to Ericsson making a return to the Red Wings dressing room next season, I’m pretty sure that nobody in their right mind expected it to be at the price tag that Jonny Rig just pulled down. A reported three year deal worth $9.75 million now makes Ericsson the third highest paid defenseman on the Red Wings staff, which is simply mind-boggling when you look at the lackluster development of his game over the past two seasons. Some will argue that Ericsson is making pretty close to what the market is dictating right now, and that’s actually correct. Unfortunate, but correct. Ericsson probably would have commanded a similar amount if he would have hit the open market tomorrow afternoon, but the details lie within. Just like Brett Lebda last year, teams would be paying the premium based on a combination of market value, his physical size and the pedigree that comes with playing for a championship organization for the last two years and one playoff. But instead of letting that become someone else’s problem, Ken Holland decided to make it his own and re-upped the Big Swede for an asinine number, essentially hoping that the $hitbox develops into the player he’s looked nothing like during his career in Detroit.
If we truly trust in Kenny and the Red Wings staff, we’re now forced to swallow a huge uncomfortable pill and hope that the Rig pans out over the next three seasons. Holland has made the overtures that he’s ready and willing to let the kids step up and take the reigns of this team, and for better or worse that includes Jonathan Ericsson. I can’t blame him there, especially as I’ve been one of the most vocal about making the transition to the new guard, but I wasn’t sure it would include Jon Ericsson and I most definitely didn’t believe it would have a monster price tag attached to it if it did. For a guy who said he wasn’t going to “spend money just to spend money,” this sure doesn’t jive well with that mantra. $2 million for the Rig? Kinda steep, but I could have lived with it. $2.5 million? Hoping somebody was playing a mean joke. $3.25 million? I just gave myself a swirly.
“The $hitbox.” Not sure that we really need to say anything else.
Photo Courtesy of MLive.com