Wednesday, September 13, 2006

So that's how Kharlamov felt!

If Bob Clarke had chosen football over hockey, there is only one team he would have been involved with, the Oakland Raiders. Clarke who epitomizes the motto Just Win baby (even if his teams don’t) took out his hockey stick on Wednesday morning and delivered a two hander to Dave Nonis that will have the Canucks GM hobbling around for months.

Well, ok, Clarke didn’t actually lay on the lumber, but he sure did lay on the numbers as he put out an offer sheet to unrestricted free agent Ryan Kessler, an offer that has the Canucks GM ready to spit out his teeth.

The Flyers, in making the first offer to a restricted free agent since 1999, have reportedly tripled Kessler’s salary to close to 1.9 million dollars. This is roughly 50 per cent more than Nonis had planned on paying the player, who played the role of a checking centre last year, accounting for his low goal total of 10 last season.

The rest of the NHL, when not contemplating the rather unusual financial terms offered of late on Long Island, now are beginning to worry about Clarke and his sudden re-jigging of the financial terms of operation. (Not to mention his sudden exit from that unofficial agreement that all GM’s seem to have made when it came to restricted free agents)

It’s a worry that Clarke dismisses with the wave of a hand (or a slash of a stick), reminding those that are criticizing him, that the Flyers have lost players to free agency, all be it the unrestricted variety and didn’t set their hair on fire at the time.

The problem for the Canucks is that they’ve already tapped out most of their available cap space already, and probably can’t meet the offer even if they felt that Kessler was worth that kind of money. Having come quite close to their 44 million dollar cap figure, the Canucks now must worry that these poaching raids will continue and that they might be quite vulnerable in the short term.

As for Clarke, well hockey fans probably owe him a debt of gratitude; with a simple stroke of a pen he’s brought back that ages old animosity to all things black and orange. Once again there's a team wearing the black hat in the NHL, and somehow you think that Clarke wouldn’t have it any other way.

Makes you wonder if Al Davis ever wanted an adopted son, or an NHL franchise for that matter!

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