The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

WAYWARD DUCKS, REUNITED
and it feels so good
Wow! This one knocks my socks off. As predicted by ESPN.com's Ray Ratto, and me, sorta, the big money in the NHL free agent market has made its appearance. The Colorado Avalanche today will announce the signing of left wing Paul Kariya and right wing Teemu Selanne, reuniting the former teammates and marketing stars with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Looks like someone is loading up for a Cup run!

For years, these two carried practically all the offense for the Ducks, to the point where it almost didn't matter who their centerman was. Now, with Sakic, Forsberg or Reinprecht as options to center them... whoosh.

Of course, both players have their detractors. Both of them could be viewed as soft, and their production the last couple of seasons hasn't been phenomenal. But I wouldn't bet against them rediscovering their chemistry now that they're on the same team.

Bold move by Colorado. I don't know if you can hand them the Cup just yet, especially since there's the question of who will be minding their net with Roy gone. But this move, provided Kariya and Selanne come through, allows the Avs to put other offensive assets like Tanguay on the market, toward the purpose of perhaps getting an established goaltender. Very intriguing.

Update: As details have come to light, my proclamation of the "big money" coming up as a result of this signing was premature. Kariya signed for a ridiculously low $1.2 million--10 percent of what he made this past season--while Selanne got on board for $5.8 mil, a reduction of the $6.5 mil option he turned down from the Sharks. In other words, Colorado landed two premier scorers for a combined $7 million, and both for only one year. Amazing.

So, I guess all those knee-jerk fans who hate seeing all those numbers to the right of the dollar sign can now relate to these two guys? Isn't that the common refrain, that fans can't "relate" to players who make astronomical sums to play a game? Now that Kariya has taken a huge pay cut, can Joe Average now relate to him making "only" around $1 million? [/sarcasm] They'd better enjoy their year of relating to him, since he'll likely be a Group V free agent after this one-year deal expires, and he can then cash in (depending on how well he does this season).

As for Ducks GM Bryan Murray being upset at being lowballed out of those two players, that's the breaks. I'm thinking if there was any collusion effort on the owners' side--and I doubt there ever was--it's now dead.

The domino effect has started, as other teams will now scramble to pick up the players they want/need. A couple of other teams took significant action today: Detroit landed Derian Hatcher with a 5-year, $30-mil deal (a raise for him), while Columbus inked Todd Marchant and Trevor Letowski.