Bolts over barrel with Lecavalier
No team needs to give up a lot of talent in a trade for Vincent Lecavalier
Lecavalier's 11-year, $80 million deal has cash-strapped Tampa in a deep hole
The need for cash is the only reason Tampa has for trading its franchise player
A recent report from a credible news service says the Tampa Bay Lightning could get four players, a prospect, two draft picks and pretty much everything else their flinty little hearts desire short of the CH logo on the Montreal Canadiens' sweaters should they opt to sent Vinny Lecavalier to Les Habs sometime this season.
Another report in one of North America's finest newspapers maintains that Lecavalier would look good in a Boston uniform and that the Bruins could give up two first-round picks or one first-round pick and a prospect from one of their more recent drafts and either Phil Kessel or David Krejci.
With packages like that presumably on the table, what's next? Evgeni Malkin and two first-rounders from Pittsburgh?
Maybe Phoenix could get into the act by offering Wayne Gretzky, a really nice, hardly used building and the rights to $2.50 for each of about 10,000 parking spots should the Coyotes manage to win them off a court battle with the city of Glendale, Ariz. Heck, they might even throw in the leases to the copy machines there if they can get them back from the hedge fund that essentially owns the team.
My offer for the Lightning's captain, best player, all-time leading scorer and franchise player who averaged 46 goals and 100 points the last two seasons?
That's right. The big n-o-t-h-i-n-g. The classic nada, zip, numero zero, and if you pushed me hard in an eyeball-to-eyeball negotiation, I might raise my offer to a bag of pucks and a pack of Timbits with no guarantee that I didn't sample the glazed ones.
Now don't get me wrong. I think the 28-year-old Lecavalier, even with a wonky shoulder and an attitude crushed by more losses than a Bernie Madoff investor, could turn a team around so fast that even New York Islanders fans would stop pining for Ted Nolan and Neil Smith, but when it comes to making this deal, I'd be holding all the cards.
Lecavalier may be the franchise in Tampa Bay, but ownership not only appears unable to afford him, it appears it may have even gone over the limit on the debit card for the operation it creatively financed last offseason. And as we've all learned since the owners' lockout wrought its havoc on the game, if you want to move a big salary that you can't afford now as well as for the life of an 11-year contract, your reward is pretty much limited to getting rid of the contract.
So, if I'm Bob Gainey or Pete Chiarelli or Ray Shero or Neil Smith's replacement, here's my offer: I'll take that ridiculous 11-year $85 million dollar contract off your hands before you have to actually fund it.
You get financial relief. You get cap relief. You get to face your family and friends and not have them continually laughing at your foolhardiness. And you get to start all over again at a price point you can afford and with a rebuilding program that is built around Steven Stamkos, Mike Smith, Martin St. Louis and a hope and a prayer that your fan base will someday forgive you.
And you will be thanking me, because I will be doing you a favor.
I'm not saying the Tampa Bay Lightning is hands down the most mismanaged franchise in the NHL, but it's getting close. The only saving grace for owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie is that the Islanders retain that title on points and only because they've been doing it for so many years that no one has been able to knock them out. It's a saving grace in that we all know you have to beat the champ, not just look better (or in this case, worse).
There was a time early on when the Lightning -- along with the Ottawa Senators in their formative years -- were the laughingstock of the expansion era. Lecavalier changed that in Tampa. He gave the franchise respectability, a fan base and, eventually, a Stanley Cup. But that now seems like a hockey lifetime ago. The franchise has come full circle and if the owners are going to save it (and themselves), they just might have to let their franchise player go.
Problem is there are only a handful of teams that can afford to make that happen, and given the perceived financial plight of the Tampa franchise, none of them should have to give up anything more than cash to make it happen.
If you think I'm mistaken, call any general manager and tell him you're looking to move a lifetime contract that starts at $10 million a year and that if he plays his cards right, he too can have his own version of Rick DiPietro. If he doesn't hang up right away, he's either unbalanced or angling for a job as a due diligence inspector in the league's New York office.
If the Lightning want to move Lecavalier it's for one reason and one reason only: money.
And if that's the case, well, you have my offer and, for now at least, the Timbits are off the table.
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