04 July 2009

The Blackhawks apparently forgot common sense, too

Per TSN:

Chicago tendered qualifying offers to several key players this week, including Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser,Aaron Johnson and Troy Brouwer, however the investigation underway is to determine whether the qualifying offers were filed correctly.

If not, there is the remote possibility the qualifying offers could be ruled invalid and the players listed above, conceivably, could be deemed unrestricted free agents because of the blunder.

Seriously? As I mentioned in my last post about the Blackhawk's forgetting their abbacus when they were signing Marian Hossa to a long term deal, the Blackhawks were going to have problems. I basically outlined out it is quite likely that Versteeg and Cam Barker, two important players for the up-and-coming Blackhawks would leave the team one way or another, as casualties of terrible cap management in coming years. Of course, it would help the Blackhawks somewhat, in that they would recieve some sort of compensation for those losses, in the form of draft picks surrendered to sign them (they were supposed to be RFA's) or whatever returns were acquired in a trade. Now, it looks like they may not get anything for them, as Dale Tallon might've accidentally let them walk away:

Chicago general manager Dale Tallon says the qualifying offers were mailed to the players in time, on June 29th, but says because of the July 1 holiday, some of the players didn't receive them in time.

What kind of mistake is that? Not qualifying a potential RFA means letting him become a UFA. Who even uses the snail mail system anymore? Much less uses it for time-sensitive documents on which the fate of multi-million dollar businesses depend? If you were a NHL GM, wouldn't you qualify Barker and Versteeg, at the least, the very first second you were able to do so?

The main stumbling block here may be that the league got the faxes (why didn't you fax the players while you were at it?), but the players never did, and only got the snail mail offer sheets. But as far as I can figure, the players are the important ones. If they didn't get the contracts before the deadline, then they might as well have never got them, and they should be UFA's. Sending the contract/check/whatever after the fact doesn't count for anything, in any business. Sorry, Chicago, but that's the rules, and there's no mulligans in pro sports.

It's easy to say "oh that team has always sucked" or "that team is always really good" or other such things, but its important to remember that oftentimes in sports, you can climb up the mountain in an instant, and you can fall completely off just as fast. The Blackhawks might be a good example of both sides of that, depending how things go for the next two years.

EDIT: Tom Benjamin has posted his take too, and discusses the conflicted feelings the NHLPA may have on the issue. For the NHLPA, while the revenues from a good CHI team are important, I think the issue of individual player's rights in a situation where team management has clearly screwed the pooch should take precedence. Firmly establishing player's rights in the situation of such a mistake is not going to return CHI to the depths of the league's revenue system. Be sure to check it out.

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