From the Fourth Period:
According to Le Journal de Montreal, Lecavalier told friends on Monday that he was aware the Lightning had been measuring his trade value on the market.
Lecavalier’s brother, Philippe, works as a player agent alongside Kent Hughes, who represents Vincent.
Philippe Lecavalier told the paper he “can’t understand how such a thing can arise.
“One of the main reasons Vincent signed his [11-year, $86 million contract extension] last summer was because he was assured that he wasn’t to be traded.”
For the Habs, Le Journal notes the team would have to free up a significant amount of salary to accommodate Lecavalier’s contract, which likely means certain impending unrestricted free agents wouldn’t be back next season.
However, the paper also suggests GM Bob Gainey isn’t about to mortgage the future even if he could acquire Lecavalier.
Adding further fuel to the fire is a report from Montreal’s La Presse, which claims the Lightning owe Lecavalier $500,000, which must be paid by tomorrow, Jan. 15.
The Lightning ownership group, OK Hockey, reworked a financing plan with Palace Sports & Entertainment last week, which would have prevented any financial concerns, however the report claims the the Lightning might not have the necessary funds to pay Lecavalier in time.
“The league could always come to the aid of the team and provide for the necessary funds,” an unnamed source told La Presse. “It would therefore allow the Lightning to remain afloat.”
La Presse also reports Gainey didn’t travel with the team to Boston last night and stayed in Montreal, presumably to continue trade negotiations.
Lightning, Lecavalier drama highlights what ails NHL
I wouldn’t read too much into the alleged $500,000 owed to Lecavalier as being a reason for the Lightning management group trading him. As the article states, the league could easily loan the money to the Lightning but if this is the case, then Gary Bettman better start fessing up to the financial problems facing some teams.
His huge, long term contract will be a bigger issue for the long term survival of this franchise. The “rag/tag”, overextended ownership group headed by Len Barrie and Oren Koules will be hard pressed to maintain the current payroll in the future.
Look for Brian Lawton and ownership to have a fire sale in the near future (or at the trade dealine) with players like Mark Recchi, Ryan Malone (good luck!!), Gary Roberts, Martin St. Louis, Adam Hall, Vaclav Prospal and Jeff Halpern being shipped out of Tampa……..simply put, pretty well everybody is available except Steven Stamkos and probably Mike Smith.
The trading of Lecavalier would be a devastating hit to the hockey fan base in Tamp Bay, something that was thriving after the 2003-04 Stanley Cup championship until the Lightning hit hard times last year.
The bigger problem beyond the Lecavalier rumours are the financial issues facing teams like the Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers (to name a few).
Bettman shouldn’t turn his back on transferring these financially troubled franchises to strong hockey markets in Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec (if Quebec City can build a bigger hockey venue).
Mr. Bettman might have to swallow his pride and possibly approach Jim Balsillie to take over ownership of one of these teams with no guarantees attached to the sale.
The NHL will have to be aggressive in how it deals with these financial hot spots in the future otherwise the marketability and value of NHL teams will be damaged beyond repair.