Diary of a Sports Diva July 7, 2007
I'm thinking that Edmonton Oiler's General Manager Kevin Lowe must think he's in a perpetual bad dream -- starting back at the 2007 Trade Deadline when he practically gave his team's heart and soul player -- Ryan Smyth -- away for practically nothing. Then he figures he has Michael Nylander tied up at the beginning of Free Agent Frenzy. As the Oil prepared to announce his signing, after negotiating an agreement and getting it in writing by Nylander's agent Mike Gillis, they learned that Nylander had been negotiating on his own and signed a four-year contract worth $19.5 million with the Washington Capitals. They can pursue legal action all they want, but chances are only Nylander's signature counts as a done deal.
So then Lowe opens the vault, shocks the hockey community (and at the same time, garnering its wrath -- more on that in a second), and offers Thomas Vanek a seven-year, $50 million dollar offer sheet. Finally! He should win this one. Nope. The Buffalo Sabres, which saw its team instantly plummet out of a playoff spot with losing Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to free agency, quickly matches the offer and re-inks Vanek, whether they want to spend that much or not.
Kevin Lowe is left holding an empty roster spot and an open checkbook.
What is interesting is why now? Why couldn't he have signed Smyth for the now what seems to be a pittance at Trade Deadline? We'll never know. But what he did do was raise the bar back to pre-lockout stupidity.
We saw the salaries increase somewhat prior to the Vanek deal, and what has been the most surprising is the length of some of the deals -- like Daniel Briere's eight-year, $52 million dollar contract with Philadelphia. But for some reason, Lowe's offer to Vanek, from the "small market team," seemingly sends the message that the NHL general managers are back to the status quo. And Vanek, while is a pretty good player, could we really say he's the key guy? The Jarome Iginla, the Daniel Briere? Makes you wonder why we even had to endure the lockout season.
As if season tickets weren't expensive enough, the Michigan Legislature is mulling over a new tax -- a luxury tax on all professional sports tickets sold in Michigan. It would also include concerts, shows, and movies. According to the Red Wings, what it means is the new ticket tax could cost a family of four season ticket holders anywhere from $597 to $1,900 extra. The club is lobbying its fans to log onto notickettax.com to tell the governor and their legislator to take a hike or voice what they really think.