If the battle between the NHL and NHLPA has gotten stale and boring for you and you have elected to tune out until you hear the news of a signed CBA, you can be excused if you missed the latest volley that was fired over the bow of the USS NHL.
When the NHL free agency period began back on July 1, there were two big names available, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. After much speculation, the two players eventually signed with the same team, the Minnesota Wild, inking identical 13-year deals worth $98 million each. At the time, some felt the deals were excessive, while others wondered exactly how the Wild would afford to pay that much to just two players. No one wondered if the contracts were bargained in good faith.
That last fact has changed. When ESPN The Magazine recently asked Suter if he thought maybe they the deals were not made in good faith, he replied:
From what's going on right now? Yes. Definitely. I haven't done any interviews. I haven't said anything, but yeah, it's disappointing that the owners, they sign all these guys and some guys were signed within the last week before the CBA was up. Now, they're trying to go back on their word. It's frustrating, disappointing. It doesn't seem like that's the way you operate a relationship or business.
Make no mistake, that’s a bold charge to make. Suter is basically saying that when the Wild extended those contracts they knew full well that they were not going to be honoring them for the full amount the players signed them for.
The problem with Suter’s charge is that it’s nearly impossible to ascertain whether it’s true or not. It’s basically a he-said, he-said situation, but one that does make you wonder why some of the more, shall we say, outside the box deals were being signed over the summer.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any uglier between the NHL and NHLPA, they have.