Friday, November 23, 2007

Vinny Will Be A Hab One Day

Looking into the future - it's free agent season, July 1, 2009-10, your name is Vincent Lecavalier, and as many as five teams are willing to pay you the maximum salary under cap rules - give or take a dime, that will be 11 million dollars per season.

Roughly 20% of a team's payroll as it would stand now. Likely more then.

If you were him, in two years time, where would you wish to play?

Likely not Tampa.

Lacavalier's current team would then still be paying the contracts of Martin St. Louis (4M) and Brad Richards (7.8 M) until both expire after the 2010-11 season.

Between this season, and the 2009-10 season, Tampa will need to deal with a whopping 19 UFA and RFA scenario's, including those of defenseman Dan Boyle (3.625M) and Filip Kuba (3M).

With no less than thirteen of these cases needing to be dealt with next season, the Lightening are painted into a corner. As only five players are signed beyond 2009-10, with none of them being goalies, the team will need to spread a its money thinly. Possible raises to Boyle and Kuba are unlikely, unless Tampa feels it can remain competitive by paying 15 roster players, including its top defenseman and goaltenders no more than $900,000 per season.

What kind of future can Tampa Bay offer the game's current best player when this day comes.

Pardon the obvious pun, but in 2009 Lecavalier will bolt the Lightening for more electric pastures!

Bet your house, your wife's fidelity, and your kid's college savings on it - it's that safe a deal!

Now the Montreal Canadiens will play into this long before it happens - even if you do not hear about it.

Tampa GM Jay Feaster is no stoolie and he will play every available card leading up to that day when Vinny is free to choose his destiny. Feaster has gone on record as saying he will not go down as the GM who becomes known as the person who traded Lecavalier away.

Fair enough for now, but when his job is compromised based on what returns he receives for Lecavalier before that date is concerned, he'll be singing a different tune.

And it might as well be "Can't Buy Me Love!"

The Canadiens will either be Lecavalier's destination or his negotatition leverage. Seeing as all bidders might then be willing to offer him the max under cap rules, Habs included, leverage might well become a non issue.

The Canadiens will not be topped in offering him top dollar and the then 29 year old will choose based on the longevity of the offers.

Seeing as how the Habs were publicly scoured for not landing Daniel Briere, middleweight that he is, not landing Lecavalier, a heavyweight, with a home run offer may garner the organization eternal heat.

The order will come down from Gillett to Boivin to Gainey - let Lecavalier write and sign his own check - for better or worse.

And I'd agree with it.

There was a precedence of the like in Canadiens history, involving a player of similar great promise for whom the Habs opened the cash vaults to.

Not coincidently, Lecavalier wears his number and has played him in a movie.

Many might suggest that Lecavalier would not want the pressure of having to perform nightly under Montreal's glaring spotlight and magnifying press.

My answer to that is that he might appreciate having less weight on his shoulders come that time. At present in Tampa Bay, he is usually the one unique factor in his team's wins. The enormous pressure in having to exceed himself nightly for the Lightening to win, playing close to 30 minutes a game, will surely hamper his career longevity. A change of scenery to a team on which his is not the sole gunner might be a welcome breath of fresh air.

In Montreal, Lecavalier would be at home, nearer to family, friends, and roots. Of course he would be in high demand, but he still would find a certain sense of peace from within knowing the entire weight of a team is not upon him.

Considering the Canadiens could well be approacing contender status by the time Lecavalier would arrive, it could all add up to marriage made in heaven for all concerned.

Lecavalier, the Habs, and some Stanley Cups!

I can see it now.


Anonymous said...

I hope you're right Robert. Usually people like to stay with their friends, or if they do move, to play with friends. I really think that if the fans at the Bell cheered players like Crosby and Vinnie when they came to play that those players, and others, might just think "You know, I like this place."

Robert L said...

They've never booed Vinny - I don't think! Briere earned his night of boos by using the Canadiens to leverage a better deal with Philly at the expense of Habs fan's (not mine!) hopes.

One night of getting on his case sent a message. The next time, absolute silence will send another.

It's kind of weird about Vinny and montreal - it's just something i have always had a feeling is bound to happen. Hopefully the Canadiens don't go sending a whack of players to get him and have the patience to wait out 2 more years.

Bryan said...

didn't he already have his chance to sign with montréal and he passed it up?

Robert L said...

Brian - Kinda, sorta, but not neccessarily.

Lecavalier was one year away from complete free agency when he inked the expension he is currently on. This contract kicked in last season, and he is in the second year of the three year deal.

The Lightening signed all three of its stars one after another after they'd won the Cup and Lecavalier likely didn't foresee the stranglehold all three salaries would place on the team's future.

Vinny has never become a UFA and thus has never held negotiations with any other team but Tampa.

Anonymous said...

I hope that you're right too Robert, but it's so hard to predict. I think as fans we don't put enough consideration into where a player wants to live while doing his job. Will Montreal need to have a superior team/environment in 09/10 so that Vinny will choose Montreal over a warmer climate, say Anaheim? I guess it might be different if he had expressed a deep desire to play with the Habs, but I think the business of hockey would have altered that early naivete.

Robert L said...

Anonymouses - Please, both of you, LOL, could you reply to my posts with some type of identifiable name in the future. It would greatly help me in knowing who exactly I am speaking to, and it would also help me separate your replies from those who choose the same name only to act less respectively.

I would greatly appreciate the commaraderie of knowing who I am dealing with, especially since both your comments are really prodding me to think so hard for decent comebacks to such intelligent and well thought out questions.


In reply to Anon 2's comment:

Your question about where an athlete chooses to play is very relevant. Considering athletes are very different from one another - you are correct in suggesting how hard it might be to predict.

In Vinny's case, as his father is a die hard Habs fan, and that Lecavalier wears the number of his idol, I truly believe his "unexpressed" Habs desire is something he would want to look into when the time comes.

A few years back, when Lecavalier was having great troubles with the TB organization and it appeared he might be traded, he never mentioned any team as a preferred destination.

I wouldn't put much stock in those "naive" childhood desires ( a la Crosby), Lecavalier is now a grown man capable of distinguishing between a risky move and a career enhancing once.

Should he desire some sort of after career hockey related job, he'd have his pick in the province of Quebec. Should he want to step into the media, coaching, or even team ownership, returning to Montreal would slam doors wide open for him.

Of course, I'm speculating a great deal here. It is just that many things seem to fit into the when, where, how and why he would want to make Montreal his destination.

I guess we'll just need to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

lol, I tried Robert! For some reason I can't login with my gmail account.... it used to work, I think. Anyways, I'm anon#2 - Sam L. I'll remember to just sign my name in the future.

Yeah, it is just speculation for now, and fwiw, I have a gut feeling we'll see Lecavalier in bleu, blanc et rouge too.... but I'm cautious. He could get married to an American, Montreal's salary structure could change, TB might change theirs in order to keep Vinny, Toronto might become a Cup contender and go after.... wait... maybe not that last one.

Sam L.

Robert L said...

Thanks for clarifying - signing in as Sam L at the tail of an anonymous post works just as well for me. I believe you may have signed in a Sam once before - I recognize the name.

Specalutive posts such as this are great fun, but I would not post on it if I didn't have some sort of sixth sense intuition.

All through Habs history I have had a knack for predicting future Habs while such players were with other teams.

The first two I got right were Pierre Larouche and Denis Herron.

A little later on, I guessed Bobby Smith correctly, but was way off on Kevin Lowe.

In the early 1990's, I recall naming four players to my best friend, three of which became Habs.

I got Muller, Damphousse, and Turgeon - Theo Fleury was my slip up.

The last prediction I had right was Yannick Perreault.

Since then I've had two strikes - J.P. Dumont and Paul Kariya.

I cannot say from where these strange intuitions come from, but they do not happen very often.

The most recent "crystal ball visions" I've had, other than Vinny, involve Markus Naslund, Martin Brodeur ( I don't understand why! ), Francois Beauchemin, and Chris Draper.

I wake up some mornings with these transactions in my head. I've given up even trying to explain them to myself.

I'm likely more psycho than psychic, but it is an enerving trait, based on a 50/50 success rate.

Until I prove to myself that I am a total idiot, I'll go with my hunches.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Robert, I'm the first anon, Gary.
You have a lot of work here, and your opinions make us think as well.
Every Habs fan would like to think of Vinnie playing on the team. At 20 minutes he would still be a game breaker. But, like Crosby, he went away when he was young. For eight years they form bonds in other places, see other things, marry, buy, invest in a circle of friends. Like Biron and Briere. Montreal needs something else to hook them when available, and I think that something is class.

Me, I couldn't believe when Crosby was booed at the Bell. The cameras caught the sudden reaction in his stride, and then on his face. Something changed inside him at that moment I think.

When Vinnie signed the extension you mention a lot of Habs fans felt he was sending a message. At the time there was a lot of talk about where Vinnie belonged, he re-signed with Tampa.

Now Vinnie or Crosby could write their own endorsement and contract tickets in Montreal, in Canada. But money isn't everything. When you have a choice it becomes often times, secondary.

So when Overchkin (sp?), Jagr, Crosby, or Vinnie come to the Bell, and make such beautiful moves, why can't the crowd just go quiet for a second and then applaud in admiration and respect. Sometimes those qualities are returned.

I am sorry if I implied Vinnie was booed, I do not recall if he was. Jagr and Crosby were.


Robert L said...

Thanks Gary, for the kind words and giving me a name I can better respond to.

I'm of two minds when it comes to booing opposing players. I don't hate if it is happening for a reason - like Crosby and his foolish antics from last year. But - it should never last beyond the context of one game.

Booing somebody for something they did last game, or last year, is just classless. Booing a player just because they are good, is plain dumb.

I'm not sure that Vinny re - upping with TB can be interpreted as sending any message to Canadiens fans about how he feels about the city. When he inked that contract extension, I recall certain things he said about being surprised to receive such a large offer. It was perceived, with cap realities being new then, that owners were tightening up. It is quite likely that when Lecavalier was offered such a generous sum, that he barely paused to think twice before signing.

Next time he signs, things will be different. He'll be close to 30, and may look for different challenges. Where the Cup looks headed then will have alot to do with it. I doubt that he would remain with TB if they weren't a competitive team.

It will be interesting to watch what Montreal does in the next off season in regards to the following year.