Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pegula in a cage-match with the NHL big dogs over Shane Doan

Weeks ago it was leaked that an Eastern Conference team offered Phoenix free agent Shane Doan a 4yr./$30M contract.

Via cbssportsline John Gambadoro of Phoenix's KTAR 620 tweeted back in early July, "NHL source just confirmed to me that an Eastern Conference team has offered Coyotes Captain Shane Doan a 4-year deal worth more than 30 mill."

For weeks the hockey world was aghast to the point where it mattered not who the team was. Just the very fact that someone would offer a 35 yr. old winger on the downside of his career that amount and term was stunning enough.

So who made the offer, if it was in fact true, sat on the back burner while Doan made his rounds and various pundits predicted who the "front-runners" were in the Doan "sweepstakes."

But, as of the last 24 hours, it seems as if the cat's out of the bag.

Jeremy Roenick was the first to open his mouth (what a surprise) via this tweet from XM's Josh Rimer after Roenick appeared on his show (from,) "[he] also said that the Buffalo Sabres made a huge offer to Shane Doan, and as of right now he has yet to accept it."

Yes, we all know Jeremy Roenick needs attention and, yes, he thinks that it's his duty to chime in on every topic like we really care what he thinks. That's a given.

But, what Brian Stubitz--the same author who jumped on the original leak--brings up in his blog is that Roenick still has ties to Phoenix and probably has connections inside the organization.

As a confirmation, John Buccigross of ESPN, tweeted this (via,) "Was told tongiht that Buffalo''s four year, 30 million dollar offer to Shane Doan is legit. Coyotes only want to go two years for now."

I'd assume that sometime very soon (like, today maybe?) there will be an official announcement that the offer is true.

Now the big question, "Are you nuts, Terry Pegula?"

That Doan is a complete player with buckets of intangibles is not to be disputed. He's a solid contributor on the stat-sheet and is a rugged player and captain with on-ice and off-ice leadership qualities. But, $7.5M per season? That's bordering on NHL superstar level.

For a 35 yr. old power forward who's on the downside of his career, four years is a bit long. Four years from now he'll be nearly 40 and it's unsure how effective he'll be this upcoming season much less three or four years from now.

Those are just the Sabres-centric ramifications of the offer.

Looking beyond that, the ownership question in Phoenix is said to be near completion as Greg Jamison was seemingly close to finding another $20M to buy the franchise from the NHL. Having the face of the franchise potentially leaving for an offer they may not be able to match, or even come close to matching, might put the cabash on that deal. It might even be the death-knell for the team in Phoenix.

Next, one needs to look at the salary structure, and what it means to free agents in the future. One could see every player agent saying, "Well, Shane Doan's at $7.5M coming off a 22 goal, 50 season. My guy had we want this"

This has an affect on other franchises as well. It's been documented that the Columbus Blue Jackets incurred huge losses over the last five seasons. The Nashville Predators have financial concerns even though they brushed them aside when they matched the Shea Weber offer sheet.

And it's just been revealed that the San Jose' Sharks, a team with a strong following and a commitment to winning, just lost $15M last season (not that the ownership really cares.)

All of this is happening in the midst of an NHL/NHLPA bargaining session where the owners want more of the pie at the expense of the players, and the players are saying that, although they're willing to help, the owners should fix the problem themselves.

Terry Pegula wasn't kidding when he said that he was taking off the financial chains of management. As level-headed as GM Darcy Regier is, this must be a huge shock to his system after years of a "just break even" mandate. Last season's $67M splurge on Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino was an eye-opener, but Doan's contract offer easily trumps that (well, maybe not the Leino contract.)

It wouldn't be surprising to see Pegula come off as a villain in all of this as he's thrown a monkey wrench into the entire system (one must also wonder why this info was released on the eve of another NHL/NHLPA meeting, that's for another blog though.)

But, for his team, he really has no choice.

The laws of supply and demand as well as the struggles of Buffalo to attract upper-eschelon talent dictated this course of action.

Doan was the only top-six/top-line talent left on the board this off season after Zach Parise left New Jersey for Minnesota and if the Sabres wanted to get in, they'd need to go big.

The usual big-money, high profile teams were said to be in the mix--the Flyers, the Rangers and the Canucks--with all of them having more to offer than the Sabres outside of money and term.

First and foremost, Doan has said all along (and there's no reason not to believe him) that he wanted to stay in Phoenix. But as ownership questions drag on, it would seem as if that ship is sailing leaving him the decision on a new home for the remainder of his career.

Philadelphia would have been a big player, especially after GM Paul Holmgren struck out on Parise, Ryan Suter, Rick Nash and Weber. "Homer" likes to make a splash in the off season and would be in hot pursuit of Doan were it not for his troubles on defense. He's also accustomed to being a villain and ownership, lead by Ed Snider, wouldn't think twice about a a $30M offer.

The Vancouver Canucks wined and dined Doan last month. They have a Stanley Cup contending team and would offer him the opportunity to play on a wing with the Sedin twins. Problem is, they also wouldn't want to hurt their feelings by signing Doan to a richer contract than theirs. It would seem as if $6M per season would be the most they're willing to offer hoping that his British Columbia ties would make up the difference.

The NY Rangers are always a player and Doan did in fact visit while he was in NY for labor discussion. They do have the cap-space to make a $7M-plus offer, and adding him to their group of forwards would put them amongst the best group in the league. Would they go four years? Maybe.

Regardless of where Doan ends up, Pegula threw himself into a cage-match with the big dogs of the league with the offer. It's a statement move that the Sabres are no longer a "small market" team and that he will continue to back up his proclamation that the sole purpose of the Sabres existence is to win the Stanley Cup.

Whether it's sound thinking on his part is to be determined.

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