IT'S CRAZY TALK

Robin Brownlee
July 02 2008 09:06AM

 hossa2.jpg

The Edmonton Oilers are making a statement as they usher in the era of billionaire owner Daryl Katz today and, given their ongoing pursuit of high-priced free agent Marian Hossa in the wake of deals made by GM Kevin Lowe in the last 72 hours, it's as bold as they come.

You can word it however you'd like, but fundamentally, it comes down to this: "We can and we will spend whatever it takes to win. We're not small market any more. We're thinking big. Nothing is beyond our reach."

After so many years of being have-nots prior to the new CBA, of not being able to bid for the best players and the biggest names, the events of the past three days -- the acquisitions of Erik Cole, Gilbert Brule and Lubomir Visnovsky -- have been exhilarating, to say the least.

And now, after huddling with agent Rich Winter Tuesday evening, Lowe's made a pitch he hopes will land him the biggest name in the free agent pool -- Hossa. Just the possibility has rabid Oilers fans pumped, convinced "We're back, baby."

That's fine. That's good.

The problem, assuming speculation Lowe is willing to overpay to the extent of something approaching $10 million a season for seven, eight or nine years for the talented 29-year-old is accurate, is that when you strip away the bravado, it doesn't make a lick of sense from a hockey point of view.

Seven years and $70 million? Eight years and $80 million? Nine years and $90 million? A contract that will take Hossa to age 36, 37 or possibly 38?

If the Oilers are going to offer Hossa a contract that will take him between four and six years past what common sense and history suggest will be his most productive years, why not just offer $90 million over 30 years -- at least it would soften the cap hit.

Hossa is a helluva hockey player, of that there is little doubt. He's the kind of special talent who could certainly help the Oilers make a splash over the next three or four seasons. And he'd certainly help sell tickets going into a brand new building.

But paying that kind of money for seven, eight or nine years to get three or four productive seasons just because they can? To make a statement? To welcome the new boss?

It's crazy talk.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Tommy
July 02 2008, 09:21AM
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Sure it's crazy talk. But as long as there is enough flexibility on the back end of the contract (i.e. no no-movement or trade clause) then they can simply send him the minors and/or swap him for a bunch of nothing players and all you are spending is Katz's money.

The real problem is if it hamstrings you like Toronto's contracts did to them.

$8M+ is stupid in any stretch. Would I love to have Crosby or Malkin or Ovechkin for the same price? Sure. But that'll never happen, because you'll never pry them out of Pitts and Wash. So to get a "franchise" player, overpay for the first few years but make sure to leave yourself with enough flexibility to bail after year 4 or whatever.

Heart says yes, brain wants to say no, but I am trying to convince myself it could work. Plus Hemsky and Hossa would be lethal.

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#2 Tim S.
July 02 2008, 09:25AM
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The term does sound too long but it will always be too long or too much when trying to sign one of these guys. Hossa is only 29, it is easy to beleive he has 7 good seasons left.

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#3 Brian Fellows
July 02 2008, 09:49AM
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Not only that but if the Katz era beginning in Edmonton means they can get a Marian Hossa to sign here, other Marian Hossas will follow him down the road.

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#4 CJ
July 02 2008, 10:04AM
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Too much money for Hossa, I would rather spend $8 million on Jagr for 2 years. By then the 'kids' will need new contracts and Gagner and others will be looking for $4 million plus. Makes more 'cap-sense' to go after Jagr short-term then Hossa long-term. Also Carolina just signed Pitkanen for 3 years $12 million.

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#5 Milli
July 02 2008, 10:21AM
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I think the term might be exagerated. But ya know, can you imagine Hemmer feeding hosaa????? Wow....that would be awesome. It does make me nervous, because I start to think of teams like Toronto and the Rangers that spend spend spend, but still don't win. But if it happenes, I'll enjoy it for a while, and then let Klo and Dkatz figure out the rest.

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#6 Wanye Gretz
July 02 2008, 10:47AM
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UPDATE

TSN is reporting that Hossa has signed a one year deal with the Red Wings for $7 million dollars.

(http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=242261&lid=headline&lpos=topStory_main)

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#7 kish
July 02 2008, 11:06AM
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much ado about nothing... http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=242261&lid=headline&lpos=topStory_main

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#8 Cole
July 02 2008, 11:36AM
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Im will not be disappointed if he signs somewhere else because 9 million is to much for any hockey player. I mean Ales Hemsky put up better numbers in fewer games. I would rather see the oilers be able to resign Gagner and Cogliano when the time comes than lose them because of overpaying Hossa. The Oilers should make a pitch for Naslund at 5 million over two years and give him the set up man in Hemsky that he needs.

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#9 jdrevenge
July 02 2008, 01:40PM
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I think lowe has glen sather disease right now. run across a little money to throw around with your team and hes going crazy... really glad this didnt work out.

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#10 RobinB
July 02 2008, 02:33PM
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Give Hossa credit. Instead of taking a big stack of dough and laughing all the way to the bank, he's taking a run at a Cup ring. He'll get his money down the road anyway. Still, I'm surprised.

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#11 Dav
July 02 2008, 03:50PM
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I think this is a stupid risk on Hossa's part. Injury plagued, bad concussion, or worst of all a healthy yet soft season and he just you know what himself. If his agent pushed him to do this and its not altruistic then hes a greedy mofo too.

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#12 RobinB
July 02 2008, 09:44PM
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HATS OF TO HF: This is self-indulgent seeing as I'm one of the co-hosts of Total Sports with Bob Stauffer, but after taking some pokes at certain posters over on HF on various issues, it's only fair to point out there's a thread on their board congratulating Team 1260 for its Oiler trade coverage over the past few days. It's well deserved.

There's obviously a lot of people at HF who recognize good radio/TV/print when they get it, and they've been getting it from Stauffer and Jason Gregor over the past few days. They've been a step ahead of the competition, and that's what our business is about.

We're now hearing some of the things Bob and I talked about in regard to Pitkanen -- remember how we were accused of trying to "run him out of town?" -- thanks to an interview by Gregor with Craig MacTavish. It's the horse's mouth stuff about Joni we talked about and took a lot of heat over on the show because we couldn't quote people who basically told us what MacTavish came out and said today.

Anyway, this isn't about that. The last few days have represented a job well done at Team 1260, especially by Bob, who proves day in and day out you don't have to be an ass-kisser as a media man to get the goods and deliver them better and before everybody else. It's nice to see that recognized over at HF, even if we don't always see eye-to-eye.

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#13 Smokey
July 03 2008, 01:37AM
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Pitkanen did not want to be here, and I will miss the three times a year he screams past a couple defenders a rifles it top corner, but we got tougher with Cole, a heart and soul player who will be revered from the moments he gets here. When he knocks over Iginla, or pops Burrows in the beek, we will be very aware that we stole this guy. I hope he comes and scores 30 a year, and provides the nightly presence we need. If he gets hurt for a stretch lets not ride this guy outta town like everyone else. You wonder why Hossa did not sign here. He has played in Canada, and the bashing he took in Ottawa was nothing in comparison he would take if he does perform up to expectations here. It was a smart move to go to Detroit where they have one good run in them before the management has to tighten the reigns on spending. He will score 40 easy goals, and if he was a complete bust, Detroit fans won't care cause they still will be Stanley Cup favorites. It does surprise me that money doesn't entice players to be here. Edmonton fans make facebook pages up, raz Rolly's kids at school, and trash players non stop, and still can't get over Pronger leaving. I don't care two bits if he left. If he wants to be elsewhere, then I will worship players who wanna be here. It is free world, but as a loyal fan since I was four, I will bitch to my wife in private, and when I see Horcoff and his family at the Mall, I will leave the guy the hell alone. If people here could do this then maybe free agents would come here. I have learned that a change in management, is only half the battle in players wanting to be here, the other half are crazy fans who turn off players who would look good in copper and blue.

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#14 RobinB
July 03 2008, 10:49AM
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Smokey: I'm not a huge fan of the Cole signing because broken necks tend to make me nervous, but at his best he does bring the elements you talk about and that makes him (if he remains healthy) a multi-faceted top-6 guy. It's a bonus the Oilers rid themselves of "future Norris Trophy candidate" and all-around it's-all-about-me guy Joni Pitkanen in the process.

As for the rest, fans here have given players some rough rides out of town and have stepped way over the line on occasion, but that's the flipside of having a city that lives and dies with it's hockey team. I doubt very much the fans here had anything to do with Hossa turning down the Oilers for the Red Wings. He put his money where his mouth is and signed where he thinks he has the best chance to win. At a time when some players take the money and don't care as much about winning as they let on, that's refreshing.

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#15 Dennis
July 03 2008, 04:05PM
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I love listening to the Team and it's a crew that cares enough about their job to go the extra mile but let's be honest here: Bob's kissing Lowe's ass pretty much every day.

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#16 Tommy
July 03 2008, 04:55PM
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I can see Hossa's viewpoint. Cap will likely go up a bit, if he lights it up and gets 100 pts next year he can sign his big long term contract after he gets another shot at the cup, because, obviously Detroit is THE contender.

I have nothing against what he did. I don't think it was a burn on the Oilers either. There has been plenty of noise from the Oilers camp that they'll "try again" with Hossa.

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#17 RobinB
July 04 2008, 12:32AM
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Dennis: Wow, your perception is, well, different than mine. If you mean Bob's been positive about the moves Lowe has made or has tried to make in recent days, you're right -- but why shouldn't he be? I wasn't big on offering Hossa a contract that would take him to age 36 or 37, but it's refreshing to see Lowe is taking an aggresive stance to improve the team. He deserves kudos for that. I don't call that kissing ass. Bob plays it straight and he's been accused time after time after time of ripping the team every chance he gets, so he's hardly a fartcatcher for Lowe. He calls them as he sees them and, for the most part, I think he's bang on in the majority of arguments he makes.

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#18 mc79hockey
July 04 2008, 09:21AM
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Bob plays it straight and he’s been accused time after time after time of ripping the team every chance he gets, so he’s hardly a fartcatcher for Lowe. He calls them as he sees them and, for the most part, I think he’s bang on in the majority of arguments he makes.

I'm of the view that Lowe gets a pretty soft ride from Bob and MacT gets it too tough from him. The Lupul thing is an example. Bob's come around to acknowledging that most of the blame for that lies on Lupul but he still blames MacT for a chunk of it. I've often wondered why Lowe doesn't deserve more blame than MacT. Lupul was a poor fit for the team in any number of ways (he was just a poor fit for any PP run by a right handed shot who likes to set up on the left hash mark), Lowe's the guy who acquired him, it didn't work and we're looking at the coach? Seems nuts to me.

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#19 RobinB
July 04 2008, 11:22AM
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mc79hockey: In my mind, you're right that Bob leans on MacTavish at times when it's just as fair to look at Lowe. Bob has his take on coaching and I have mine. They are somewhat different, but that's OK. In the specific case of Lupul, I thought he would be a fit here after seeing him in the 2006 playoffs. Soft, yes, and too often on the perimeter, but he looked like he could finish. I'd have preferred Getzlaf, but that wasn't on the table in the Pronger deal. Lupul was awful here. no question, but I can tell you MacT did sour on him rather quickly. His level of patience does seem to vary from player to player.

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#20 mc79hockey
July 04 2008, 02:39PM
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Lupul was awful here. no question, but I can tell you MacT did sour on him rather quickly. His level of patience does seem to vary from player to player.

I don't disbelieve you that MacT soured on him quickly. You wrote something a while back though, saying that MacT didn't stick with Lupul, the way he gave other players chance after chance. That always struck me as being wrong - I think you'd have a hard time finding another Oiler who's been as bad as Lupul who had as much opportunity, in terms of ice time.

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#21 RobinB
July 04 2008, 04:19PM
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mc79hockey: I'm not going to start rifling through shift charts so I can make an argument based solely on ice time, but there's a few players -- some in distinctly different roles than Lupul -- who've been thrown over the boards time after time despite less than stellar results.

Dustin Penner. God awful early. Dan Cleary. MacT loved him. Jiri Dopita. Lowe's project, Adam Oates. Finished. Anson Carter So many nights of nothing.

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