And they called Mike Gillis a fool

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Oh yes, the cap hit the Philadelphia Flyers incurred for Chris Pronger on that seven-year deal seemed big, especially because he’s 34 years old already. But what the hell, right? If he retired at any point in the final three or four years, it would cost them next to nothing, right?

Well, the NHL doesn’t think so, and the fallout is a cautionary tale all NHL teams should really keep an eye on.

A clue that Paul Holmgren should have known this Pronger contract might be a problem presented itself fairly quickly; the mutants over at HFBoards, within five minutes of the contract being announced, were already asking if this was going to count against the so-called “Over 35” rule.

For those unfamiliar, the current CBA has a rule stating that any contract that goes into effect after a player’s 35th birthday will have the full salary count against the cap for the entirety of the contract, regardless of whether or not he retires. This is meant as a deterrent to teams that would sign a useful 35-year-old player (say, Scott Niedermayer) to a long-term, heavily front-loaded deal that would drop the total cap hit off a reasonably-sized cliff upon that player’s retirement.

And that’s exactly what Pronger’s deal was because, as Bill Daly points out via Elliotte Friedman’s Twitter, it kicks in when the new League Year starts on June 30, 2010, and Pronger will have already been 35 for close to nine months by that point. Except now the Flyers “disagree and interpret the rule differently” which is, of course, hilarious.

The last thing anyone wants is their team holding the bag for some guy they signed to an absurd contract because they thought (incorrectly) that they could skate past something that says this:

All Player Salary and Bonuses earned in a League Year by a Player who is in the second or later year of a multi-year SPC which was signed when the Player was age 35 or older (as of June 30 prior to the League Year in which the SPC is to be effective), regardless of whether, or where, the Player is playing, except to the extent the Player is playing under his SPC in the minor leagues, in which case on the Player Salary and Bonuses in excess of $100,000 shall count towards the calculation of Actual Club Salary.

I don’t know how Philly thinks it can interpret something that explicit “differently” but okay. What this really means is that every team in the league, like the Canucks and, I’m sure, a few others, should be scampering to hire a “capologist.”

How does this relate to the Flames? Well, the only three contracts currently on file at the Saddledome that will end after a player is 35 are those belonging to Jarome Iginla, Daymond Langkow and Miikka Kiprusoff. But the most interesting case is that of Iginla, whose birthday is July 1. That means his contract, which expires June 30, 2013 will last until he is 35 and 364 days old. But if, like Pronger, he signs an extension prior to that final year starting, the Flames have to be awful careful about that cap hit, especially if he signs it prior to free agency officially starting on his birthday.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about this. I’m not a capologist.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Ken Campbell at THN offers this:

    On the one hand it says the contract has to be signed when the player is 35 and then goes on to stipulate that it comes into effect the year in which the SPC is to be effective, hence the possibility for confusion.

    But the spirit of the provision is that it governs contracts that kick in when a player turns 35, not when it is signed.

    “The league has sent out memo after memo after memo alerting teams about this,” said one former NHL executive. “If this is what they’re doing, they’re trying to drive a 747 through a loophole.”

    The league has yet to hear from the Flyers about this and considers it to be unambiguous. And given that Holmgren has said the Flyers are willing to live with the negative ramifications of signing Pronger to a seven-year deal, it might not be an issue.

    Then that just makes it a really bad contract.

    …so basically the Flyers are going to accept the cap hit.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    i think GMs around the league need a couple weekend retreats with the CBA.

    Tallon screwing up his RFA's, Tambellini (and maybe Murray) not understanding the date of the Heatley $4 million and now this thing with Pronger..

  • I'm a Scientist!

    bengood wrote:

    i think GMs around the league need a couple weekend retreats with the CBA.
    Tallon screwing up his RFA’s, Tambellini (and maybe Murray) not understanding the date of the Heatley $4 million and now this thing with Pronger..

    lol. You have a point.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    is there a Capologist Crime Lab at NHL HQ? There's 30 teams you would need a shwack of Cappy's or a bang ass computer system to track and persecute offenders. There's been some major screwups this year and I wonder if any Team will get taken to task. That would be the true tell of any Capo at NHL HQ.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    The part here that should really scare the Flyers is should they be stuck with his contract and the cap hit after this dispute, they know Pronger has a track record of thinking of himself and not an organization he plays for.

    He won't event think twice about retiring as soon as the front loaded part of his contract pays out, even if it hand ties the Flyers.

    This is where they should be kicking themselves.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    as i read this i thought to myself:

    no calgaryian is this literate… what is going on here? then i saw the blurb at the bottom about how mr. toilet paper (or whatever it is) is from boston and it all made sense.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    DK0 wrote:

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    I thought maybe the part they were arguing was that the extension was “signed” before he was 35. Just takes effect after.
    TLP wrote:
    All Player Salary and Bonuses earned in a League Year by a Player who is in the second or later year of a multi-year SPC which was signed when the Player was age 35 or older
    But thats just me on first glance and no legal knowledge

    Agreed 100% That was my initial reaction upon reading the article.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Not that I want to give the Flames fans any good news, but ther will not be an issue with Iginla. The CBA states 35 or older which means he will be 364 days OLDER than 35, thus falling into the catagory of his cap not hitting the books if he retires during his next contract. They just need to wait until after July 1st 2012 to sign him to an extension.

    By that time the Sutter brothers will be so senile from being kicked in the head too many times by thier cattle they may make that mistake anyway!!

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Love the gratuitous swipe at HFBoards calling them mutants in the same sentence where you point out that they noticed the mistake before anybody else picked up on it.

    Still touchy around here about Speeds embarrassing Gregor or what.

    You would think somebody would play editor for columnists too ignorant to control themselves.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    @ Mowgli:
    Mowgli wrote:

    Where did the term “human rake” come from again?

    dude, look at the guy's front teeth – he could rake up all of freakin' Saskatchewan with that grill!

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Sooo…MondayGuy was telling me that he "swears" that he heard on Sportsnet that Mrs. Pronger had to sign the contract agreement with Philly as well.

    Anyone else hear this? He swears up and down he heard it. Was it a quip by a witty Sportsnet guy?…or was it REAL?

    FYI: If any of you follow @MondayGuy on twitter, you will know he spends most of his "awake" time in a drunken stupor.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    theoil wrote:

    You would think somebody would play editor for columnists too ignorant to control themselves.

    Really? If you don't like the product here, there are a lot of other sites to go to. The bloggers on this site are head and shoulders above anything else out there as far as Oilers news goes.

    Go troll somewhere else.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I heard that part about Mrs. Rake signing the NMC too and I remember it because I couldn't figure out why she would be signing that sheet. An agreement to stay in philly maybe, but a no movement clause? Didn't understand so it caught my attention.

    On the oilers site I saw an interview with tambo and he didn't seem so convinced that the cap was going to drop significantly next year. I wonder if the media has built that frenzy. Maybe philly can deal with both this and briere's contract then keep Carter and Richards for their 1 2 punch. Pretty major imo for a team with the worst record in hockey two(?) years back. Hope tambo doesn't try to replicate it here though, I like the horses we got.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I think Philly will find a way around this. They had similar problems with Hatcher, Rathje, and Gauthier contracts that they either "assigned" them to the minors or just put them on the long term injured reserve for the last 2 years of their contracts. I don't think either of those guys were hurt that badly, they just didn't want to play anymore. I'm sure Pronger has already agreed to do the same if need be.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Doug wrote:

    I hate Boston (Go Lakers, Go Colts) and Calgary (duh) so this guy is a fusion of my worst enemies.

    i will actually punch you square in the gut. just you watch.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Was Mensa passing out 'genius' pills to GMs at their meetings in Montreal this year?

    Bob Gainey – "A $7.3M cap hit is good value for Gomez"
    Dale Tallon – "The organization will be very happy with the $1.75 I'm going to save them by using USPS instead of Fedex"
    Steve Tambellini – "July 1st must mean the evening prior"

    And now Paul Holmgren and the Pronger contract???

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Alon wrote:

    #43

    Alon
    July 9 2009, 8:56 am.

    @ Doug:
    Article was cross-posted accross all 3 sites.

    Just practicing replies to quotes, etc… Please ignore my attempts to highlight, quote, etc…….