Teemu Selanne’s reported imminent return to Anaheim has fans in rival cities crying “what the Duck!”
At issue for the complainers is a legal manipulation of the salary cap and contentions the Ducks are getting an unfair advantage by injecting players of Selanne’s and Scott Niedermayer’s ilk midway through the season. I don’t see it.
For starters, as a strategy, allowing players to sit out half a season is a gamble. The upside is you get well-rested, possibly elite performers who could make a huge difference. That has clearly been the case with Niedermayer.
The negatives, however, are the potential impact on team chemistry and the effects it has on the cap.
Anaheim was forced into trading Andy McDonald and, likely, waiving Ilya Bryzgalov in order to accommodate Niedermayer.
Doug Weight, 37, has been an OK addition, but is in the twilight of his career; McDonald, 30, is in his prime.
And if J-S Giguere goes down to injury, the Ducks no longer have the luxury of inserting Bryzgalov, who was perhaps the best back-up in the business and a player who is proving in Phoenix he is really a bona fide No. 1.
As for Selanne, there’s no guarantee that at 37 he’ll be able to repeat the 48-goal pace he enjoyed last season. Besides, he was an unrestricted free agent who, theoretically, was available to 29 other teams. That he only wants to play in Anaheim is a prerogative he has earned.
Are the Ducks better off for having Niedermayer and Selanne on their roster? Absolutely.
But there have been sacrifices and disruptions and teammates displaced.
The hard cap has forced GMs into being creative to ice the best team possible. The Ducks and Brian Burke are simply employing all the tools available and demonstrating a character that we all love to see in players on our favorite teams: an anything-to-win mentality.
Jason Kay is the editor of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend.
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