will be sleeping in these.
It's ... the hockey world's most annoying new trend: fake outrage. And it doesn't take much these days to get hockey fans up on their soap boxes.
And here we go again.
Yes, it's mid-July and there's nothing to talk about in the NHL, so somebody somewhere needs to drum up a fake controversy to give us all something to shout at each other about.
And right on queue, here comes the Vancouver media. Lead by Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province, they're desperately trying to whip up a frenzy over Ron Wilson and the Leafs tampering with the Sedin twins.
This all stems from Wilson's June 30 appearance on a Toronto radio station. During a discussion on potential free agent targets, he specifically mentioned the Sedins by name.
The Sedins never even made it to free agency, resigning with Vancouver the next morning (as Burke has already pointed out). But, the argument goes, Wilson's comments could have been used as leverage in last-minute negotiations. This may not have cost the Canucks the twins, but it could have cost them a lot of money.
There's a problem with that theory: by Blotchford's own reporting, the Sedin's had already received matching 5 year, $30M offers from the Canucks before Wilson ever opened his mouth. Hours before free agency began, the twins were able to negotiate themselves all the way up to ... 5 years and $30.5M.
That's right: a difference of $500K each. Total. Less than 2% of the value of the contract.
Not even enough money per year between the two of them to sign a single player to league-minimum deal. Less money than Kyle Wellwood spends in a week on Swiss Chalet dipping sauce.
And that's not even the biggest hole in the story. The entire premise of Blotchford's little scandal rests on the idea that, until Wilson opened his mouth, nobody knew the Leafs might target the Sedins.
But everybody knew. Just about every hockey outlet on the planet had spent weeks speculating about whether Burke would land the Sedins.
But we're supposed to believe that the idea had never occurred to agent J.P. Barry. Until the moment Wilson opened his mouth, of course, at which point Barry slapped his forehead and realized that the GM who had drafted the twins and had tons of money and cap room just might make an offer.
Of course, there is a precedent here. The St. Louis Blues lost a first round pick to the Devils as compensation for a tampering charge involving Scott Stevens. This case has been widely cited by Canuck fans as being a good comparison to the Wilson fiasco.
But there's a part that gets left out. In the Stevens case, the NHL determined that the Blues had been negotiating with Stevens, who was still under contract to New Jersey, and had already agreed with him on an offer sheet.
So we have one case where a coach drops a name on the radio, and another where another's team's player is already signed and sealed before ever reaching free agency. Yes, Vancouver, those two situations certainly do sound very similar.
(It's also worth pointing out that it took the NHL four years to come to a decision on Stevens. Apparently the case was heard by Mats Sundin.)
So how will it all play out? Tough to say. Tampering is one of those rules which isn't well-defined, has no specific punishment, and rests largely in the realm of "commissioner's discretion". That means Gary Bettman can do pretty much whatever he pleases here.
Ordinarily, the result would be predictable: help the small market team, screw the large market. But in this case, both Toronto and Vancouver are large markets. And since neither city is a struggling southern franchise without any fans, there's a good chance Bettman will just lose interest completely.
What Bettman should do is have the league investigate further... just in case. After all, if this goes any further than an offhand comment on live radio (such as actual contact between the Leafs and the Sedins before July 1), then it's a whole new ballgame and the Leafs will deserve whatever the get.
But if not, he should fine Wilson (for being an idiot), fine the Leafs too (since Wilson's an idiot), issue a stern warning and be done with it.
Finally, a friendly note to Canuck fans. Yes, we all understand why you're pretending this is such an outrage. After all, there's a possibility (however slim) that you could receive some Toronto draft picks out of this. And since the current Leafs roster is projected to score about 16 goals over the entire course of next season, those picks should be pretty decent.
So yes, we understand why you're acting like a broke college kid who just got into a fender bender with a guy driving a Porsche, grabbing your neck and shouting "whiplash" at any lawyer who wanders by. We get it.
But you may want to dial it back a little. It's one thing for some bored media types to try to create a story out of thin air. There's no rule that says you have to embarass yourself as you play along.