The NHL up Scuttles' butt

Who would have thought the League could make more of a mess of Jiri Hudler’s “situation” than Mike Brown?

After two or three left turns from all parties, the NHL has added it’s own little caveat – one that I bet Ken Holland was hoping would be let go. Let’s break the events down, as simply as possible:

June 28 — “Step 1: Prove You’re Better Than Dale Tallon at Handling Menial Administrative Duties”
Jiri Hudler, an impending restricted free agent, is sent a qualifying offer from Red Wings management. QOs need only include a 10% raise on the expiring salary to guarantee that the player’s rights remain property of the team. Jiri Hudler was certainly due a raise — and certainly more than 10% — on his $1.015M deal. The Red Wings knew they couldn’t afford MUCH of a raise, but certainly weren’t going to let him become an unrestricted free agent and lose him for nothing. Worst case scenario — he’s given an offer sheet by another team and the Wings would receive compensation in the form of draft picks.

July 1 — “EVERYBODY PANIC!”
The Red Wings seemingly assplode, losing Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky, and Ty Conklin in a matter of hours from the opening bell on Free Agent Day. Mikael Samuelsson would find his way to Vancouver (pray for GM Place’s glass) a few days later. With all of the departures up front, it seemed pretty reasonable to assume that Hudler would HAVE to get re-signed, right? …Right?

July 5 — “I got no more questions for ‘dis guy…”
Hudler and his agent Petr Svoboda (Why, yes, that Petr Svoboda) file for arbitration, meaning an intermediatary would decide Hudler’s salary based on similar players and after hearing statements from both parties. Ken Holland reminded the overreacting masses that he’s never actually gone to arbitration with any of his clients since his tenure began (the last Wing to do so was Ray Sheppard in 1995) and that he was very confident something would get done before the hearing (which is yet to be scheduled).

July 8 — “Say what now?”
News begins to leak that Jiri Hudler has signed a very lucritive deal with the Dynamo of the KHL (rumored to be for two years and as much as $10 million, tax free). Slowly but surely, the rumors are acknowledged and summarily confirmed by all parties involved – Ken Holland, Petr Svoboda, and even Jiri Hudler – who held a press conference with his new comrades.

Ken Holland has said that he’s going to go forward with the arbitration process because if Hudler ever decides to return to the NHL, he would be forced to honor whatever contract he is “awarded” during the arbitration process. Let’s pretend for a minute that Hudler goes to Russa, plays out of his mind for two seasons and decides its time to come back to North America. Even if teams were tripping over themselves to sign him, he’d be bound to the terms of the arbitrator’s contract (which is to be determined in the next few weeks). This could be a 1 or 2 year deal, anywhere from 2 to 4M per season. That COULD be a bargain in 2011.

Not only that, the Wings don’t really have a ton of cap space to play with this summer – and are being cautious of the supposed drop next summer. One could argue that Hudler’s defection overseas is the best thing that could have happened — the Wings would maintain his NHL rights without having to pay him. Sold.

July 10 — “Hey, thanks a lot, Gary.”
The League takes it upon itself to file a grievance on behalf of the Red Wings, claiming that since the Red Wings properly filed their qualifying offer, Hudler is contractually obligated to the Red Wings next season…despite not having a contract for next season. I guess the point is that since the Wings have the “right to match” offers from NHL clubs, Jiri Hudler is still an asset that is property of Detroit.

The NHL is appealing to the IIHF to rule that Hudler’s KHL contract is invalid, as was done earlier in the week when Joel Kwiatkowski — a current KHLer — signed with the Thrashers.

So instead of all the good news that could have been squeezed out of the diminutive winger’s defection, the Red Wings are now hand-cuffed in limbo, which isn’t nearly as sexy as it sounds. Who knows when this thing gets resolved, but who can blame Holland & Co if they decide to play it safe (read: not make any more big league signings) until this whole thing goes away?

***UPDATE***

The arbitration hearing has been scheduled for July 30.

***UPDATE #2***

July 16 — “We…Are…Family…”
The president of the KHL has made his first public statement since the situation began. He – via translation – has said that the Kontinental League “will not register Hudler’s contract, pending the outcome of the NHL arbitration.” Apparently the NHL gained some goodwill by having the Thrashers rescind the aforementioned contract offer to Joel Kwiatkowski.

Who could have seen this coming, really?

“Great job with the Campbell deal. You’re fired.” “lolwhut?”

Rumor has it Dale Tallon is getting the axe.

NO! Not a cap genius like him…..

It would have been fun watching him run that team into the ground over the next few years.

I suppose enough dumbassery happened this summer to sustain us.

***UPDATE***

The story was breaking late last night via various tweets, and early in the morning, Kukla’s Korner made it as good as official (as did TSN). All of the reports seem to go back to this report from Comcast Sports Net in Chicago, written by Josh Mora:

Late Monday night sources told me the Blackhawks had fired Dale Tallon as GM and replaced him with Assistant GM Stan Bowman. With Rick Dudley already gone to Atlanta this off-season, it means that the Blackhawks have turned over virtually their entire front office since John McDonough came in as president, with Bowman the lone exception.

That’s a good point…it was easy to point at the Qualifying Offers blunder as a reason for dismissal, or the RIDICULOUS Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet contracts (…and Marian Hossa, potentially). Perhaps these were just reasons to put the final touches on a regime change.

As much as I would have enjoyed next summer as he struggled with the abacus and Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews, I HAVE to think a Bowman will work some magic.

Transactions

12/15 — Addition — Doug Janik called up
12/14 — Addition — Kris Newbury called up
12/7 — Demotion — Jakub Kindl sent to Grand Rapids
12/2 — Addition — Jakub Kindl called up


11/26 — Demotion — Daniel Larsson sent to Grand Rapids
11/12 — Addition — Daniel Larsson called up
11/11 — Addition — Drew Miller claimed off of waivers
11/04 — Demotion — Doug Janik sent to Grand Rapids
11/03 — Addition — Doug Janik called up

10/10 — Addition — Justin Abdelkader called up
10/08 — Demotion — Justin Abdelkader sent to Grand Rapids

10/07 — Addition — Brad May signed for 1 year, $500k



09/18 — Addition — Willie Coetzee signed for 3 years.
09/18 — Addition — Tomas Tatar signed for 3 years.


08/18 — Addition — Todd Bertuzzi signed for 1 year, $1.5M
08/06 — Addition — Jason Williams signed for 1 year, $1.5M

08/04 — Addition — Patrick Eaves signed for 1 year, $500k
08/01 — Arbitration — Jiri Hudler awarded 2 years, $5.75M

07/23 — Extension — Jakub Kindl signed for 3 years, $2.65M
07/22 — Extension — Ryan Oulahen signed for 1 year, $500k
07/22 — Extension — Evan McGrath signed for 1 year, $500k
07/08 — Delete — Jiri Hudler (signed with Dynamo Moscow, 2 yrs, $10M)

07/08 — Addition — Doug Janik signed for 1 year, $500k
07/07 — Addition — Travis Ehrhardt signed for 3 years, $1.6M
07/06 — Addition — Jeremy Williams signed for 1 year, $500k
07/06 — Addition — Kris Newbury signed for 1 year, $500k
07/06 — Extension — Ville Leino signed for 2 years, $1.55M
07/05 — Arbitration — Jiri Hudler filed for salary arbitration
07/03 — Delete — Darren Haydar (signed with COL, 1 year, $525k)
07/03 — Delete — Mikael Samuelsson (signed with VNC, 3 years, $7.5M)
07/01 — Delete — Ty Conklin (signed with STL, 2 years, $2.6M)
07/01 — Delete — Tomas Kopecky (signed with CHI, 2 years, $2.4M)
07/01 — Delete — Marian Hossa (signed with CHI, 12 years, $62.8M)