Don’t Hold Your Breath for Habs’ Offer Sheet

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The Canadiens’ season ending rather prematurely certainly has fans and media talking, and with good reasons. The team’s lack of offensive threat has been a problem since the second half of the season and ultimately, cost the team a chance to face the Senators in the division finals and perhaps even to represent the Eastern Conference in the finals.

No one knows that better than better than team GM Marc Bergevin who, in his press conference, acknowledged that his team needs a boost in that department, particularly at the centre position. After all, while Tomas Plekanec was starting to show signs of slowing down, it was difficult to predict that he would be completely MIA on offense and who in their right mind would have predicted that Alex Galchenyuk would hit rock bottom a year after scoring 30 goals?

Fans and media alike are looking at ways that the Habs can improve their offense rather rapidly, based on what’s available out there on the market and they are quick to point out that both Jonathan Drouin and Leon Draisaitl are Restricted Free Agents (RFA) with compensation and could be eligible to offer sheets. While those players are exceptional young talents, many like yours truly question if the offer sheet is even an option.

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Jonathan Drouin is a pending RFA

While legal according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Offer Sheets are seldom used by NHL General Managers and while no one will come out publicly and admit it, the tool is heavily frowned upon by GMs around the league as it is perceived as putting their homologues in dicy situations in a salary cap world, where cheap talent is key to having a competitive team. The fact is that most GMs don’t want to use it, whether is by principle alone, or by fear of retribution by their colleagues in the future.

But instead of going with suppositions, why don’t we look at all of the offer sheets signed since the introduction of the salary cap after the 2005 season. Here’s a chart to help have a clearer picture:

NAME DATE OFFER OWNER SIGNED RESULT
Ryan Kesler Sept 12/06 1 year $1.9M VAN PHI Matched
Thomas Vanek July 6/07 7 years $50M BUF EDM Matched
Dustin Penner July 26/07 5 years $21.5M ANA EDM Accepted
David Backes July 1/08 3 years $7.5M STL VAN Matched
Steve Bernier July 8/08 1 year $2.5M VAN STL Matched
Niklas Hjalmarsson July 9/10 4 years $14M CHI SJS Matched
Shea Weber July 18/12 14 years $110M NAS PHI Matched
Ryan O’Reilly February 28/13 2 years $10M COL CGY Matched

As you notice, only eight players have signed offer sheets as a RFA and all but one was matched by the team. Only Brian Burke‘s Anaheim Ducks backed out and took, instead, the compensation which was the Oilers 1st (12th), 2nd (43rd) and 3rd (73rd) round picks in the 2008 draft.

Everyone else matched the original offer, which is quite telling. If a team is going to brave the rest of the league by signing a player to an offer sheet, they will usually sign players who can have, in their opinion, an impact in the NHL. More interesting though is what happened (or not) to those so-called gutsy GMs who dared to break the unwritten rule.

  1. The first GM out of the gate after the salary cap CBA was Bobby Clarke, who signed Kesler back in September 2006.  He was replaced by Paul Holmgren the following month, on October 22, 2006.
  2. Kevin Lowe is the GM who signed both Vanek and Penner in 2007. He lasted a year before being replaced by Steve Tambellini on July 31, 2008.
  3. Canucks’ GM Mike Gillis was just hired on April 23, 2008 prior to signing Backes to an offer sheet the next summer. St-Louis Blues GM at the time, Larry Pleau, gave him a taste of his own medicine when a week later, he signed Bernier, who was just acquired in a trade four days earlier by Gillis, to an offer sheet of his own. Gillis completed several minor deals after, but had to wait to 2013 before being able to complete a substantial trade, acquiring the 9th pick overall (Bo Horvat) from the Devils for Cory Schneider.
  4. Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks is definitely the exception to the rule. He has completed several trades, including some important ones, after signing Hjalmarsson to an offer sheet in 2010. Wilson has even completed three trades with the Blackhawks since that time!
  5. Faced with the loss of Chris Pronger to injury, Paul Holmgren and the Flyers were in desperation mode and signed Shea Weber to the richest offer sheet in NHL history, hoping that the Predators couldn’t match… but they did. In the two following years at the helm of the team, Holmgren has completed a dozen trades, but none of impact. In the book released for the Flyers’ 50 anniversary, he admitted being unable to find people to trade with because of it. He had to step down and give way to Ron Hextall for that reason.
  6. Brian Burke, then interim GM for the Flames and who was quite verbal against Kevin Lowe’s offer sheet to Dustin Penner six years earlier while GM with the Ducks, signed Ryan O’Reilly to an offer sheet of his own in what is perhaps the most hypocritical offer sheet signing ever. Colorado matched and Burke went back into is President’s role making ways to Brad Treliving just a few months later.

So Habs’ fans and media, unless you want Marc Bergevin out, which clearly some of you do, what do you really think the odds are of him signing one of Drouin or Draisaitl to an offer sheet? Do you honestly think for a minute, based on facts and history, that it would be for the best of the team, of the organization? Oh don’t get me wrong here, if Drouin is available as rumours around the NHL seem to suggest, Bergevin will be all in to get him, but it will be, in my humble opinion at least, through the traditional way of trade. As for Draisaitl, don’t lose too much sleep over that folks, he will be re-signed in Edmonton.

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Plagiarism Goes Unrecognized

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Virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer Charles Mingus once said: “They’re singing your praises while stealing your phrases.” And I was reminded of this when some of you, readers and Twitter followers, pointed out a case of plagiarism of one of my latest articles published on this site. 

Without permission, someone by the name of Jeff Drouin, a writer (and I use the term loosely), published an almost identical and word for word translation of my article Paul Holmgren Breaks “The Code” on the Dans les Coulisses blog. It happens and usually, on sites like that one where they have several writers, the designated Editor-in-Chief automatically assumes that the article in question is original. Up to this point, there’s nothing wrong or different.

However, when you contact the said Editor and make them aware of the plagiarism, they will fix the situation rather quickly… when they are a respectable site, that is. And sometimes, you get to know the true colours of those running those sites when having to deal with similar issues. So when I approached the Editor by Twitter, he immediately came to the defence of his staff writer, claiming that he linked to my article.

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When you read the article, if you understand French, you will notice that the writer in question linked the article on Habsterix.com for credit for Paul Holmgren resigning from his GM position due to the offer sheet to Shea Weber. They didn’t mention that they’ve translated the article and that’s what they refused to understand when I communicated my concerns to them. See for yourselves and you be the judge:

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Source: http://www.danslescoulisses.com

Notice the correlation with breaking the code, camaraderie amongst GMs, unwritten rule, reason for bringing in Ron Hextall, then linked to the Pacioretty story, putting the Flyers in a difficult situation again and finally, Holmgren not having learned his lesson. That’s almost a per verbatim of what I had written.

I tried explaining that the link is giving me credit for the reasons of Holmgren quitting as GM, which is clear in my article that the credit belongs to author Jay Greenberg. They should have given me credit for the article as a translation, due to the fact that it’s a translation of mine. But no, I am wrong according to them. Here are my explanations to DLC on Twitter (if you understand French):

I was told that I shouldn’t read the web as people steal from each other all the time. With that conversation, I saw the true colours of those who run that site and I now know that integrity was not part of their core values. Some people had told me that but you know me, I give people some rope and see if they take advantage of it in a positive manner, or if they use it to hang themselves.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I would normally not write about little feuds like this one but the total oblivion of what right or wrong, then the denial and even accusations towards me forced me to bring this problem to light. It’s unfortunate as they have had more than their fair share of controversy with traditional media and I see that it now extends to bloggers like yours truly, who do this as a hobby, for fun. Unfortunately, they are trying to take the fun away from it. But I have news for them: it won’t work! I will keep on writing and be opinionated, as proven by this latest opinion piece. For some reasons, I doubt that DLC and his staff would plagiarise this one too.

Oh and for the record, the only people who have my permission to translate my articles to French are my good friends at Hockey Sans Limites. You will see the Holmgren article there and how credit is supposed to be done.

EDIT: Pour l’explication (audio) en français, écoutez mes explications à 1:13:00 environ…