Ask Adam: Phaneuf, buyouts, and Gerbe’s Hertl-like goal

Adam Proteau
Dion Phaneuf (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Dion Phaneuf (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

How many different ways can I write an introductory paragraph to THN’s online mailbag? The answer may surprise you, but probably not. Here are this week’s best submissions. Thanks to all who took the time to send in a question. (And remember, if you want to ask something for a future mailbag, direct your questions via our handy form.)

Adam,

Was the two amnesty buyouts per team a one-time provision in the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, or can teams continue to buy out players annually?
Paul Gridelli, Chicago, Ill.

Paul,

This must be a trick question, because the answer is neither. The NHL’s amnesty buyouts were implemented in the wake of the 2013 CBA, but allowed the two buyouts per team to be used either last summer or in the summer of 2014.

The grand majority of franchises still have both buyouts to use if they so desire; only four teams (Chicago, Montreal, Philadelphia and Toronto) have used both, and only eight teams (the Islanders, Rangers, Detroit, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Vancouver and Washington,) have used one. So it’s fair to expect that we’ll see more buyouts – and teams potentially making trades with organizations like the Flyers or Leafs to use their buyout on an acquired player in exchanged for a dumped contract or unwanted asset.

That isn’t to say teams can’t buy out players after this summer. The difference is, the normal buyout rules apply, – meaning the amount of contract term remaining at the time of the buyout is spread out over twice the number of years, and two-thirds of the money remaining is paid out and (and this is the most important part) counts against the cap.

UPDATE: After this mailbag was published, Twitter user/website Winging It In Motownasked that I clarify a point of contention: an amnesty buyout can only be used on contracts signed by Sept. 15, 2012. So, for example, even if the Leafs had a buyout left to use, they wouldn’t be able to use it on David Clarkson, who signed his deal last summer.

Adam,

Why didn’t the hockey world erupt with rage after Nathan Gerbe’s goal against Philadelphia like it did when Tomas Hertl scored the exact same goal earlier in the season?
Jordan Adams, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Jordan,

That’s a very fair question, and one I don’t have a definitive answer for. Is it because Hertl is a rookie and Gerbe has played more than 200 NHL games in more than four seasons? Probably not. My best guess is that Hertl’s goal was the eighth goal in a 9-2 blowout win over the Rangers; just scoring another goal when you’re up 7-2 is seen as an affront to all that is good and decent in the minds of hockey traditionalists, so adding pizzazz to it the way he did made it close to a war crime for them.

Gerbe’s goal, on the other hand, was the second goal his Carolina Hurricanes had against Philadelphia. The game was still very much in question at that point, which lessens the sting for many hockey people. But the goals themselves are the same. Judge for yourself:

In both cases, if people don’t like how those goals were scored, they have two choices to prevent them from happening again: (a) have a goalie stop them; or (b) have one of their skating defenders stop them. Simple, really.

Adam,

Why do the Leafs keep Dion Phaneuf? He is a bum and the worst ‘D’ in the league.
Ernie Marcucci, Mississauga, Ont.

Ernie,

Worst defenseman in the league? I know Phaneuf is a polarizing figure, but let’s not exaggerate wildly. He may not have the most upside of any Leafs blueliner (that would be Morgan Rielly) and he certainly isn’t a perennial frontrunner for the Norris Trophy, but he is Toronto’s best defenseman and there is nobody available to GM Dave Nonis to replace the steadiness he brings to the team. That’s all there is to it. And his teammates love him – for proof, check out my feature on him in the new edition of THN magazine.

Adam,

Do you think the NHL should change the way they give out points for wins, ties and shootout losses? My thinking is that if you give three points for a regulation win it would make teams play for that win rather than going for a tie to get the point and give the fans a much more interesting finish to regulation time. It should be three points for a win in regulation, two for an overtime win or shootout win and one point for a loss. Thanks.
Doug McCrory, Belleville, Ont.

Doug,

This is one of our more frequently-asked questions and I answer it once every year, so we may as well get it out of the way for 2014:. Yes, there’s every reason for the league to go to a system that rewards teams for winning in regulation time; yes, the structure you propose would do that nicely; yes, there are variations on that structure – mostly, ones that give a losing team zero points for any loss; and no, the NHL isn’t likely to change the system in the near (or far) future.

Why? Look at the standings. The points system is designed to keep as many teams as possible in the playoff race for as long as possible. That’s how more tickets are sold. If you had a more honest system, there inevitably would be fewer teams with a shot at a playoff spot, fewer tickets sold and fewer revenues. So although we all recognize the flaws in the approach, the larger mission of the standings system is succeeding spectacularly.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.