Friday, August 22, 2008

NHL should ban indecision.

I think we're in for another one of those years of hearing those famous (sortof) last words, "I am undecided on my future, I need to think about it."

Mats Sundin's first self-imposed deadline of August 1 has come and gone, and nobody is any closer to knowing what he might do come the beginning of the season.

He could retire, he could play with another team, sources say he doesn't want to play in the Western Conference, but who really knows. Some people even suggest he wants to finish his career as a Maple Leaf (god love the poor bugger, must've been hit in the eyeball with a puck one too many times).

But it's not really the fact that Sundin is sitting on his hands (and a contract), it's the fact that this seems to have become the norm in the "new" NHL.

Let's go back a year, the most prominent example I have of this NHL indecision (sounds like a segment off of Jon Stewart) is Scott Niedermayer. The elder Niedermayer spent the entirety of the first half of the season "deciding" what he wanted to do. I don't think he was deciding, I think he was taking a sweet vacation and preserving his body for the time of year that he really wanted to play: down the stretch and into the playoffs.

So, while everyone was getting beat up, stitched up and getting long-last ankle injuries, Niedermayer was sitting back and relaxing. I'm sure he was staying in shape... but staying in shape and getting your ass knocked into the boards by Georges Laraque are two completely different things. It wasn't until December 5, 2007 that Niedermayer had made his "decision" playing just 48 games in the 2007-08 season.

I don't want to put the full blame on Niedermayer, though. I really do think he's a premier player in the league and a fantastic leader. My question is, how was this allowed to occur? Obviously the Anahiem Ducks would have liked him in a uniform on day one, but they also must have liked the fact that they would have him for the playoffs without having to pay him a full contract year taking up valuable cap space.

In the end they did have to move a few people around because of a clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement called "tagging" cap space. (essentially meaning you cannot have players on the team this year that would exceed the cap next year should it not change... which is a strange clause that can become tricky come trade deadline) but they did save money in the end.

Also recently the NHL decided to lift a fine placed on Niedermayer for missing training camp. What is that saying to players who think that maybe they'll just spend the first half of the season with their family or on the beach staying uninjured for the "real season"?

Especially when you had players like Selanne and Forseberg do essentially the same thing. The NHL has got to crack down on this "pondering my future" tactic players have started to employ. I'm sure if the NHL told the Ducks that if Niedermayer isn't on the ice by (insert date) you will lose him for the rest of the season because he'll receive an NHL suspension.

I don't understand this pondering your future. Ponder away in June, July and even August (so far Sundin is still in my good books because training camp hasn't opened). But once that camp opens you're either ready to play or your not. Why should rookies and the grinders on the third and fourth lines have to be there all season, but other players don't have to. Start in september and if find that you just don't have it anymore... leave. Simple as that.

No comments: