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Ein Minuten Bitte… Again

I suppose that with it being summer and the Hawks having already made their signings and not yet a trade to clear cap space, we have more time than we should to study the narratives they are pushing. It’s not something I consistently want to do, but they keep putting this stuff out there and some of it is just wide of the mark. And those who are supposed to stand watch and call it out are once again passively accepting and even echoing it themselves.

During yesterday’s press conference, the Hawks and the sycophants who cover them couldn’t wait to tell us that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane took less money so that they could keep the team together (even though the team is already over the cap). Their agent told everyone that they could have asked for the maximum $13.8 million per year.

That’s nice. I’m sure they could have asked. And Stan Bowman could have laughed them out of the room.

Just because originally Toews and Kane asked for more than the $10.5 million they got doesn’t mean they’re sacrificing something. Because as we’ve discussed before, they’re basically getting paid market value. If they were truly taking a “hometown discount” wouldn’t it look a lot more like Ryan Getzlaf’s and Corey Perry’s contract? Wouldn’t that be a real discount?

Because as we looked around before, $10.5 million in salary is less than the $12 million that Sidney Crosby gets as it should be. Because neither of these players is Sidney Crosby. Daydream Nation are wonderful players, but what are we talking about here? Toews doesn’t have a 40-goal season. Kane doesn’t have a 90-point one. And hey, I’m the one who screams the most that Kane hasn’t had any help to get those gaudy point totals. But if we’re saying that Kane took a discount, then wouldn’t a $11 or $12 million player that he supposedly should be not need any help? Crosby turned Pascal Dupuis into a fucking legend, and Pascal Dupuis sucks! They each have a Conn Smythe, I get that, but those Conn Smythes should have gone to Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford, and that’s not much of a secret to anyone. Toews has one Selke and has never finished higher than 4th for the Hart. Toews was on a point-per-game pace in the lockout seasons, so that’s two 70+ point seasons. Patrice Bergeron has the same amount, and an additional Selke. Do you think of him as a $10 million player?

Hey, I get it. They’ve won. They’re clutch. They perform in the big moments. So does Justin Williams. Is he going to get $10 million?

This isn’t an argument that Kane and Toews are overpaid. They probably aren’t, and if they are it’s by a small margin. Certainly they should be making no less than $9.5 million per year. But getting paid what they’re worth or deserve is not taking a discount to keep the team together. Sure, they also project to be good for a while and you pay for what a player is going to do and not what he has done. But Toews is 26. Considering how it’s now thought forwards peak, he only has about three years left in his peak years. That means he’ll be getting paid $10.5 million (admittedly that will be less and less a share of the cap) while he’s declining. Add one year for Kane’s peak and one off his decline.

Of course, Kane and Toews come with this unquantifiable factor of being the center of the entire Hawks’ marketing drive, and the center of the organization. They couldn’t possibly have let either of these guys walk. That obviously drives the price up. But this whole urge to augment that marketing drive by saying these guys sacrificed some money for the good of the team… it’s basically bullshit. They took market value, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We don’t have to champion it to make it ok when the roster actually does get squeezed so we forget that it was these deals that caused it.

And another thing while I’m on the soapbox. I’m getting a little tired of these articles with the premise, “Look at how different is for the Hawks now! This never would have happened under the old man!”

Yeah, we get it. But it’s been seven years since Bill Wirtz went down for the dirt nap, and things have changed so rapidly that and massively that it’s not even worth looking back any more. Sure, it’s always great to have perspective, but I feel these kinds of articles– led by Mark Lazerus’s barley guised plea to leave him alone through a “Golden Age of Hawks Hockey” article last spring–are basically meant to keep fans from looking at anything closely. “Hey it used to be way worse so just shut up and take this!”

What’s the limit on not comparing to the previous Wirtz’s Hawks? 10 years? 20? For me, the time to judge Rocky’s Hawks against Bill’s passed as soon as the Hawks made the playoffs in 2009. Rocky’s Hawks should only be judged against previous incarnations of Rocky’s Hawks, and that’s it.

  • fullmetalninja

    I didn’t hate reading this article, but not sure your premise is very accurate. Kane and Toews deal has no bearing on this season’s cap. This off-season the rate for good 3rd line centers (or Dave Bolland) seems to be 4-5 mil range. A quality 2nd line Center (like Statsny) went for 7 mil. What will the next off-season bring? I just do not see any way that you can claim that either would not be able to sign next offseason for more than 10.5 mil. By definition both were below market value deals, and the discount likely increases each year.

    • wowwowweewoo

      disagreeing with Fels – that’s a permaban

      • SamFels

        Easy. I’m usually wrong. So disagreeing with me is generally the right way to go.

  • TitanTransistor

    “And those who are supposed to stand watch and call it out are once again passively accepting and even echoing it themselves.”

    Expecting the Chicago beats to do their jobs is like expecting gravity to reverse. We’ll all be waiting a very long time.

    • guest

      I honestly can’t blame them. Would you throw away a dream job (especially in a field as rough to find work in as journalism) covering the hawks so you could stick it to Rocky & Co.? I get that it’s a travesty of journalistic ethics, but such is the nature of a topic where a private company decides who gets to go in the room and who doesn’t.

      Not to mention the fact that when you look around the league, other fanbases aren’t saying “lol look at chicago wasting their money,” they’re saying “holy shit what are we gonna have to pay xyz.” There are projections that the cap will be north of 80 mildo before these contracts are up.

      They could almost certainly have gotten more in free agency.

      • TitanTransistor

        True. I guess it depends on whether they actually view themselves as journalists, as opposed to third party PR.

      • OMFS88

        Meh, the great journalists don’t shy away from the tough questions out of fear. That’s mediocrity personified

        • OMFS88

          And mediocre is about the extent of recent Hawks coverage from people who work for the major outlets

        • guest

          It’s not even fear, though. You fear what might happen if you stick your hand down a dark hole. You know what will happen if you stick your hand down a hole that says in huge red letters “THERE IS A SNAKE IN HERE THAT WILL BITE YOU.”

          The simple fact is that if a beat is too critical of the hawks, they won’t be a beat anymore. So what do you want them to do? Stand up one after the other so we have a different beat writer every week? And you ask this succession of people to throw their jobs away.. for what? So we can read someone with eyes in the room saying what we all claim to know anyway before their inevitable shitcanning?

          This isn’t covering a war. It’s not uncovering government corruption. It’s not revealing corporate shenanagins. That’s the language you’re using. It’s a sports team.

          Blame McD for having crazy levels of control over the “message,” don’t blame the people making the same decisions you’d make if it were your ass on the line with so little to gain.

          • TitanTransistor

            If a beat was actually honest, critical and intelligent, they would amass a following large enough that the Blackhawks couldn’t ignore them. Tons of cities have journalists that don’t get along peachy with the team, but they can’t ban them, because doing so a) would bring a backlash and bring such policies to light and b) they would be cutting off a popular source of coverage.

            Peopl with pulpits need to take the responsibility that comes with them seriously. I can’t think of more spineless reporting than I’ve seen from Lazerus or Myers.

          • cza

            Snake? This is TCI—let’s step up the analogies:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Dt1AeolGWs#t=38s

          • Bannerman

            This is exactly what I was thinking

          • OMFS88

            Let me be clear: I have NEVER compared professional sports to war, govt corruption or people being forced to make loan payments per the terms of their mortgages. Professional sports are much more important than all of those things COMBINED and should be covered as such.

  • fromheretoinfirmary

    Yea I gotta disagree with a bit of your argument here Sam. While I agree that Toews and Kane didn’t take some great hometown discount for the good of the team, I do think that 13.5 is a somewhat accurate estimation on what they could have pulled on the open market. It’s been discussed elsewhere how many players are making comparable salaries whose cap hits are significantly lower due to the cap-circumventing deals that are not longer available. Let’s take Zach Parise for instance. While a arguably more prolific scorer than Toews and Kane, he’s also no Crosby, and possesses some of the “intangibles” that our two superstars have (e.g. leadership, marketability, etc). He pulled 12 million in salary through this year. Of course, his cap hit is 7.5, but had his deal been limited to 8 years as required under the new CBA? His cap hit would be 10 million. Point is, don’t think the thought of 88/19 pulling 13.5plus in the free market is a stretch, especially with the money that midlevel centers are making as ninja points out. Also, I don’t read the beats b/c they just tell me things I already know, but watching the actual press conference, I didn’t think the “hometown discount” storyline was pushed too hard. Toews simply said that they had to balance team and personal interests. In fielding questions, I basically heard the Hawks brass say essentially that the deals were fair.

    • rhodes

      Could they have made more during free agency next year? Probably, yes. But the key word there is probably. They could also have made less. Free agency for these guys was 82+ games away. Think what a season ending injury in February does to their free agency prospects. The Hawks are offering the $$$ today, so Kane/Toews are able to mitigate some income risk–this doesn’t come for free.

      Also, I have to believe both are considering where they might play. Do they want 13.5 if it means playing for Nashville? I have heard both of these guys separately state that they like the fact that Chicago offers them a chance to win a cup. The organization is deep with prospects and there’s a good group around them. Not many teams can say this. So, maybe you can call this a “good team” discount, rather than home town discount.

      Don’t think the Hawks had no leverage in this negotiation.

      • fullmetalninja

        What you are saying isn’t without merit. But, honestly folks, Jonathan Toews is 26 and has a lake near Winterpeg named for him. Winnipeg has no real NHL Centers. Patrick Kane is from Buffalo. Throw out Dale in FL, throw out the bastard of the North East Garth Snow. Do you honestly believe that Win/Buf would not throw max deals at these guys individually? You know they would. Toews/Kane know it. The agent knows it as well.

  • Bobby Otter

    When do we talk about how Kane all of a sudden looks like he’s 36?

    • lizmcneill

      Someone should kindly telling him that gluing his remaining hair to his skull isn’t going to stop it disappearing.

      • YoAdrienne

        Poor kid. My dad, brother, and cousins sympathize with him. Toews is headed that way, too, only from the other direction.

  • TitanTransistor

    I don’t really view Toews’ Conn Smythe as the same kind of robbery as Kane’s. Toews had something ludicrous like 29 points over the course of that run, didn’t he? I thought Keith and Toews each had a case.

    I didn’t think Kane had much of a case at all compared to Crawford, to be honest. Hell, I think Keith, again, probably had a better argument than Kane.

    • SamFels

      Toews didn’t score in the last two rounds. That doesn’t mean he was bad, but Keith and Sharp were better.

  • jacquescloutier

    if 10.5/year is such an incredible sacrifice, it better have been what they were asking for originally. you can’t [er, you shouldn't] paint them as selfless heroes at 10.5 if they were originally asking for 12.

    even without the narrative, i think 10.5 is too much, and i was very disappointed when i saw that number. they’ll have the highest cap hit in the league by about a million for a few years [until stamkos re-signs], and i think they have maybe one top ten points finish between them in the past five seasons. malkin has an eight year contract that starts this year instead of next at 9.5. malkin’s a 1.2 point per game player, and kane/toews are around 0.9. even with all the positives that kane/toews have brought [as sam mentioned above], i’m not sure i can look at them at a million more per year and think ‘yeah they gave us a pretty good deal’. i’m ecstatic that they’re both with the hawks for another eight years, but the contract left me a little sour.

  • hawkfacts

    I don’t get all the angst in this article Sam. Are you mad at Toews, Kane or the management team? Why? You get rid of 1 of the other core guys the year after next and there are no cap issues with these contracts. With Saad and Teuvo under the team’s control for the next 5 years, the Hawks are perennial Cup contenders until sometime in the 2020′s. You can’t even begin to say that if either Toews or Kane had walked.

    • SamFels

      Just mad at the coverage, as always. Certainly can’t be mad at Kane and Toews, the job pays what it pays. Stan got the deal done and that’s what it cost. That’s fine too. There’s nuance to this that I didn’t do a very good job of articulating. I think they took market level deals, and I just don’t see the hometown discount aspect of it.

      • hawkfacts

        Got it. I think we all get sick of the marketing machine. (especially in the summer when there is no other news)

        • VermontHawk

          I had the same reaction has hawkfacts: why all the negativity. Seemed aimed at Toews and Kaner. Sam’s follow-up explains it well, but the article seemed less aimed at the media than the players or team. Just imagine if Stan let one (or both) walk. Bash the coverage harsher, yes. Didn’t come across that way in the article.

      • ‘hawks58

        It really depends on how you look at it Sam.

        Based on Crosby’s cap circumventing deal and Ovechkin’s contract that was signed 7 years and 1 lockout ago, yes they signed for market value.

        However, players of the caliber of Toews and Kane simply do not hit the open market. Had either been free agents, they most certainly would have been offered $13M+ per season.

        When Ovechkin signed in the 2007-08 season, his $9.538M per accounted for 19% of the $50.3M cap; over the first 9 years of Crosby’s contract, he is paid $10.6M per year and that was in the midst of all of his concussion issues.

        The truth is, Kane and Toews certainly took millions less than they could have gotten on the open market but at the same time they squeezed the Hawks for everything they were worth.

  • SuperHawk27

    In case anyone else was wondering(I was):

    sycophants: a person who praises powerful people in order to get their approval

    • tom

      So basically our entire culture.

    • The Nutbrown Hare

      I’d expect the convention to be rife with a good many sycophants this weekend.

  • David

    Preach…

    • Preacher

      Hmm?

  • Flavius

    Deutsche Grammatik, bitte……SCHEISSE!!!

  • 5Minutes4Fighting

    Crosby just got paid 12 mil in the fist year of a front-loaded 12-year-deal that pays an average of 8.7 mil a year (which is the cap hit for the contract).

    19 & 88 will be getting 13.8 mil the first 3 years of their contract. The yearly average is 10.5 mil a year (which is the cap hit for the contract).

    So the Hawks will be paying 19 & 88 a lot more than Sid, and the cap hit will be a lot bigger. Looks like the Hawks may have overpaid, not underpaid.

    • lizmcneill

      If Crosby’s contract was 8 years, his cap hit would be 10.8M, and he signed with a 64.3M cap.
      Sid – 16.8% of cap
      DDN – 15.2% of cap each.

  • Joe Banks

    I’m satisfied that a home town discount was given to the Hawks. Maybe not a pants dropping, but they did not have to sign now. They could have waited til next summer… right Kevin Hayes?
    The urgency was all on the Hawks side, and now Stan can plan the the future, knowing exactly what they will be paid for years to come.
    Even if their cap hit was a million bucks less, they still have to cut another horse out of the herd.

  • PuckHog

    unless i am missing something, kane and toews will be the highest players in the nhl next year, and have the biggest cap hits. that’s a discount?

  • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

    The coverage bothers me, too, Sam. But in today’s internet world, the beats are there NOT to cover the Blackhawks but to cover the Blackhawks and get page views for the paper. Pure and simple. (I know I’m not telling you anything new.) Their very job description requires them not to ask tough questions, so why expect them to? They need to cater to the average reader, they’re told to cater to that reader, I’m sure, and the average reader wants quick digestible gruel.

    Anyway. Since Kane came into the league there are only ten players who have amassed more points than him in that time (13 if you look at points per game). Five of those guys are on the down curve (Thornton, St. Louis, Sedins, Iginla); then there’s The Three (Ovech, Crosb, Malk); and then Getzlaf and Backstrom. Six of these guys have never won a Cup; none has won two. Toews is 18th where Kane is 11th, but Toews of course brings in exchange the best two-way game in the league, and is one of the best captains. There’s clearly an argument to be made that they are not elite production players in the mold of the top 5 or 6, but:

    Add in the two Cups and their single-handed financial resurrection of the franchise (money money), and these ten-point-fives are right where they should be. I fully, 100% agree that they aren’t true discounts, but I think hometown discounts are more a dream of fans than a reality of contracts. They maybe left 500K per yr on the table … so 4 million dollars. Quite a discount, actually; just, a discount for Rocky, not for Stan and the cap.

  • bennicksic

    Two things. One, Crawford blew conn smythe when he gave up the dump in goal to andersson that almost lost the Detroit series (three goals were needed in the third to win) and in game 4 facing a 2-1 series deficit against Boston and then deciding to forget he had a glove, giving up 5 goals.

    And the second, mark Lazarus is a really shitty hockey reporter.

    That’s all