Open letter to Kevin Lowe
Never mind the angry outcry, you are a mad pioneer
Posted: Monday July 30, 2007 1:22PM; Updated: Tuesday July 31, 2007 1:31AM
Dear Mr. Lowe,
I'm writing you on behalf of all current and future NHL players and their agents. First, let me commend you on your brilliant use of the Collective Bargaining Agreement mechanism known as the offer sheet. In tendering both Thomas Vanek and, most recently, Dustin Penner you not only demonstrated keen insight into the minutiae of the binding agreement between players and management, but you also exhibited an astute assessment of talent.
Well, at least talent outside your own organization. Never mind bringing in Joni Pitkanen from Philly to help your power play after letting Marc-Andre Bergeron go to the Islanders, for whom he immediately exhibited the blue-line presence and shot to quarterback a power play. I apologize for bringing up the Islanders, since the mere mention of that franchise must make you cringe and relive the Ryan Smyth saga all over again. If only you had known before that unfortunate trade that the cap was going to go up, your off-season might be so much more enjoyable, with the former face of your franchise -- the endearingly coined Captain Canada -- inked long-term and begetting harmony all around.
But I understand. Too bad none of your go-buddies in positions of influence around the league told you about the likely cap increase. Almost everyone else predicted it based largely on -- I can't figure out how they kept this from you, since you are in Edmonton -- the strength of the Canadian dollar. Now those same guys who didn't share that economic view are casting you as the villain. And for what? Making an offer to the Sabres' 40-goal man that will pay Vanek $10 million in this, his third NHL season, after Buffalo had just lost its top two offensive players in Chris Drury to the Rangers and Daniel Briere to the Flyers? Weighing in at over $4 million a season for the Ducks' Penner -- another guy with two seasons of NHL experience -- who has yet to reach even the 30-goal plateau?
So be it. You know what you're doing. I'm behind you 100 percent. Honestly. Your bold maneuvering is perfect for any number of players and their representation. As such, I'd love for you to consider the following strategy options for early tendering of offer sheets:
Mike Weir, Steve Nash and Justin Morneau. By going outside your own sport and swooping in on top Canadian players from the PGA, NBA and MLB respectively, you will set yourself apart as a true visionary who looks for solutions not only outside your own organization, but outside your sport. In so doing you will help establish a true "professional sports open economy," and by staying Canadian you will never again lose sight of the significance that the Canadian currency plays in NHL revenue streams and maybe put the need for equalization dollars in Edmonton far behind you. Besides, the likelihood of signing those players is about the same as it was in the case of Vanek.
Sidney Crosby's first born. I know Sid is just 19 and not even married, but think of the jump you'll get on your cohorts if you bet big on bloodlines and make your claim now. This would be a revelatory all-in move that would only further your recent reputation as a supreme speculator. And let's face it, it isn't too far out of the realm of possibility, given your projection of Penner's value. In the meantime you could make payments to RBK which could go to Sid the Kid as part of his endorsement deal -- maybe in some sort of trust fund (a term Darcy Regier and Brian Burke will no doubt find ironic).
This arrangement would also increase revenues that, under this CBA, help everyone because the players are now "true partners." No one seems to understand that better than you -- at least from the player/agent perspective.
I hope this was helpful. Call anytime during your "damn the comparables" campaign.