Saturday, June 17, 2006

McCabe situation turns farcical

Bryan McCabe has a lot of fans in Toronto.

But when it was reported two weeks ago that the veteran Maple Leafs defenceman had signed a gaudy, $29-million, five-year deal, well, even the most ardent of those were up in arms.

This week we learned the contract was never signed — although it had been put on the table. And what followed was mass speculation as to why, exactly, McCabe hadn't agreed to what was one of the most lucrative contracts for a blueliner in NHL history.

Was it because McCabe waiting to test the free-agency market?

Did the Maple Leafs ownership group, MLSE, have a problem with the deal?

Did a little birdie from another club — possibly the New York Islanders — whisper in McCabe's ear that he was wanted there?

Or did his wife, Roberta, demand their family be closer to her Long Island roots?

Your guess is as good as mine, but it is interesting that the Maple Leafs are having such difficulty signing a contract most would agree is above and beyond McCabe's worth. Now, with this apparent stalemate (one shrouded in secrecy — as much as that's possible in Toronto, anyway), the team is damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

If McCabe signs the deal, critics will cry it's a waste of money.

If he doesn't, the asking price of any possible McCabe replacement has just been bumped up and the team looks rather foolish about the whole thing. (A long-term deal with a no-trade clause will also be all but guaranteed in wooing other UFAs.)

Jes Golbez explained back when McCabe's apparent deal was first announced why it's problematic, and it's not really the dollar figure that's out of whack:
The big issue is the length of contract WITH a no-trade clause. Haven't teams learned from their past mistakes? McCabe will be getting a rather handsome sum as he ages and declines. Is a 35-year old McCabe worth $6mil a season? This contract, like many of these types that were signed in the OLD NHL, is a big risk to become an albatross. Only an exceptional player should ever be given more than a 3-year deal when they approach the 30 mark, and McCabe isn't one of them.
As for all the recent silliness, The Globe and Mail's David Shoalts says it's time for the team to bid adieu to the six-year Leaf:
This needs to be cleaned up quickly and the best way is to say so long to McCabe and explore the alternatives.

Just about everybody in the league agrees McCabe is not worth the five-year, $29-million the Leafs offered him. His struggles in the second half of the 2005-06 season undid all of his good deeds in the first half. So take it back, add $2-million more to get one of the big three, and move on.
And finally, the Toronto Star's Damien Cox sums the whole mess up nicely:
There was already much debate over whether McCabe was even worth the five-year deal worth an average of $5.5 million per season that was apparently being offered by the Leafs.

Now, with it appearing as though giving the defenceman big money, substantial term and a no movement clause wasn't good enough, McCabe and/or the Leafs are creating the uncomfortable public percepton that the player is very reluctant to return.
That, of course, can be overcome if he does re-sign and reports McCabe balked are denied. Should McCabe slink out of town, however, it'll once again raise questions as to this organization's managerial (in)competence.

All that for what?


At 11:59 p.m., June 17, 2006, Blogger beezee05 said...

In watching Chris Pronger out there in game 6 tonight I can't help but think how over estimated Bryan McCabe is. He is high risk, looks for the big hit...more often than not finds himself out of position as a result when he doesn't connect. He looked good this year purely as a result of how the game is being played and called. In my estimation he only looks exceptional with a Kaberle feeding him for the one timer during the many pp's that exist in today's game.


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