Detroit Red Wings Free Agent News: 6 Worst Contracts in Franchise History
The Red Wings have long been considered one of the best-managed franchises. From ownership on down, their consistency is envied around the league.
Four Stanley Cup championships in 14 years can have that affect. Beyond getting the right players for a team, and having the right coaches to lead them it comes down to finding a way to pay everyone—and keep the players happy.
In the days before the implementation of the salary cap, many pointed to the Wings as the NHL version of the Yankees—an organization that could out-pay any team to get the player they wanted.
Smart people realize that it takes much more than big names and contracts to build a great team. Just ask the Miami Heat.
Once the salary cap came into being, many assumed that the Wings would fall back to the pack. Instead, they have made it to the finals twice since then, winning once.
Even with all that has gone right; the team has definitely put together some bad contracts.
Here are the worst contracts in Red Wings have signed.
#6 Dominik Hasek 1 Year, $2 Million with Another $2 Million in Bonuses
This was the last contract Hasek signed with the Wings.
He had already retired once, came back and contemplated retirement again. While a very good goalie, he was no longer an everyday constant, as the team would not play him on consecutive nights, and he split time with Chris Osgood.
Hasek would start the playoffs as the teams’ goaltender, but after a couple of rough games during the first round series he was benched. The Wings would go on to win the Stanley Cup with Osgood in goal.
The salary is high for a player who only played in 41 games.
#5 Jiri Hudler 2 Years, $5.75 Million
Hudler was a young up-and-coming player who served a decent role on the team.
In the 2008-09 season, he topped 20 goals for the first time in his career. After the season, a poorly-handled negotiation process ended in his agent filing for arbitration, and Hudler signed a deal with a Russian team.
By the time everything played out, Hudler decided to go to Russia and play.
After one season he was let go and return to the Wings for the 2-year, $5.75 million deal.
His first year back was abysmal as he scored only 10 goals and looked lost on the ice. He made $2.75 million and will bag $3 million in 2011-12. At the stats level and performance-speaking, Hudler had a good season in 2010-11. But the Wings could have found several players making less than a million a year who could have done just as good a job.
It basically means that they overpaid Hudler by three times his actual value.
Now he still has a year left, and if he is not traded will have a chance to make up for last season. There are several younger players, eager to take his spot chomping at the bit to take his spot, however.
#4 Curtis Joseph 3 Years, $24 Million
Joseph came to town as one of the best goalies to without a Stanley Cup title; sadly, he would never change that ignominious tag.
The Red Wings were coming off a Cup-winning season in 2002, and with the retirement of Dominik Hasek, they badly needed a goalie.
Joseph seemed like a good fit, and had a decent first year with the team. The team was upset in the first round of the playoffs, and Joseph received much of the blame for it. His second year was drama-filled as Hasek opted to come out of retirement. The team tried to trade Joseph but his contract proved a repetitive stumbling block, as teams were unwilling to take on his deal.
Joseph would spend time in the minors that year, as the team simply did not have room for him. He would end up finishing the season with the Red Wings, as injuries forced Hasek from the lineup.
A second round loss in the playoffs proved to be an untimely end for Joseph. The lockout wiped out his last year with the team.
Joseph played well for Detroit, especially considering the circumstances, but he was brought here to win the Cup.
Though it was by no means his fault alone—as the offense disappeared in the playoffs—with the team not making it past the second round in either of his seasons, he did not come close to what he was paid to do.
#3 Sergei Fedorov 6 Years, $38million
Red Wings icon Sergei Federov makes the list just because of his first year in this deal.
In 1998, he was a restricted free agent and held out for most of the season. The New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes made offers to Fedorov. He accepted an offer from the Hurricanes that was designed to prevent the Wings from being able to sign him.
The contract's per-year average was very reasonable at $6.3 million, however it was very front-loaded.
On top of his $2 million dollar base salary, he would receive a $14 million signing bonus. To make matters worse he was also to receive an additional $12 million if the team made the conference finals. The Hurricanes had little chance of making the playoffs let alone going that far in them. Meanwhile, the Wings were the defending Cup champions and a safe bet to make it that far again.
The Wings decided to match the offer which ended Fedorov’s 59 game hold out.
He ended up playing the rest of the season and helped the team win its second consecutive Stanley Cup. Fedorov salary ended up being $28 million dollars for only 43 total games.
That is still the highest salary an NHL player has ever received for one season and one of the highest single-season salaries any athlete has received.
#2 Derian Hatcher 5 Years, $30 Million
Hatcher arrived to help the team on defense. The injury bug quickly hit, though, and Hatcher never fully recovered. He played in only 15 regular season, and 12 playoff games.
The injuries sapped any remaining speed, allowing opposing forwards to blow by him.
The lockout took away his next season. Once the league was back in business, the team bought out the rest of his contract.
#1 Uwe Krupp 4 Years, $16.4 Million
Krupp arrived to the team as an established star, and one that seemed able to improve the defense.
Instead, a back injury forced him out of the lineup before Christmas. During the 22 games that he did play in, he was subpar at best, as nagging leg injuries hindered his play.
Two weeks after leaving the lineup due to a herniated disk in his back, he was found to be dogsled racing.
A subsequent battle ensued between Krupp and the team, which resulted in the team suspending him and trying to void his contract. Krupp countered by filing a grievance.
After over two years of battles, Krupp tried to make a return to the team but only played in a few games during the 2002 season.
Despite the team winning the Cup that year, Krupp’s name did not make it onto the trophy due to playing in too few games.
His grievance was partially successful as he did recoup about half of the $8.2 million he was seeking.