Ask Adam: Playoff payouts, Heatley’s future, suspensions and bonuses

Adam Proteau
Dany Heatley (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

I hope you know how the mailbag operates by now, because I’ve explained it more than enough over the years. Thanks to all who submitted a question.

Adam, in terms of player compensation, how do the NHL playoffs work? Clearly the venues and owners benefit from the extra games, but are players just playing out of the goodness of their hearts? Do they make the same in a four-game sweep as a seventh game double-overtime nail-biter? Thanks for answering my question.
Ken Jewett, Nashville, Tenn.

Ken,

The 16 playoff teams receive varying degrees of bulk payouts from the league that are dependent on where they finish. Last season – the first under the new collective bargaining agreement that doubled the amount of total playoff monies available – the eight teams that lost in the opening round were given a quarter-million dollars to split amongst their players. If a team divvied up its money between 25 players, that works out to $10,000 per roster member.

The payout rises with every playoff round victory. The 2012-13 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks received $3.75 million total (which would reward each member with $150,000) and the Cup finalist Boston Bruins received $2.25 million (or $90,00 per player)

As the league’s revenue projections climb, so too will the playoff payouts. So to answer your question: no, they don’t play simply for the love of the game, but they’re also not going to retire based on the cash they earn in the post-season.
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Ask Adam: Nyquist; Eakins; the trapezoid; and Panthers’ changes

Gustav Nyquist (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Another week, another bag o’ mail to sort through. If you don’t see your question here, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate you taking the time to submit it. But this isn’t a perfect world. I mean, if it were, we’d have Christmas at least – at least – twice a year. Anyhow, thanks again.

Greetings, Mr. Proteau:

If the Red Wings make the playoffs, does Gustav Nyquist get any love in the Hart Trophy voting? His run over the last 25 games has been incredible, especially given the lack of supporting cast due to injuries.
Andrew Lee, Kingman, Ariz.

Greetings, Mr. Lee:

Nyquist has been a much-needed revelation for Detroit, but no, I’d say his reward for helping the Red Wings to a playoff berth would be playing in the post-season. A player would have to play multiple positions – goalie, first-line center, assistant to the GM – at an astonishing level to get the Hart Trophy nod simply because of a tremendous 25-game run. Voters have to take the entire regular season into account, which is why Sidney Crosby is the frontrunner in the minds of many.

Besides, I think you could make the argument the Red Wings’ MVP this season is not a P(layer), but head coach Mike Babcock. He’s taken a roster often indistinguishable from Detroit’s American League affiliate and kept it in playoff contention throughout the year. With due respect to Nyquist, that’s more important than any goal he’s scored.

Adam,

At the beginning of the season, you wrote enthusiastically on the Oilers’ hiring of Dallas Eakins. Have you revised your opinion – not on the man – but his readiness and/or ability to be an effective NHL coach in 2013/14 or in the next year or two? Or is this one of those prognostications you wish you could have over?
Claire Ponsford, Surrey B.C.
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Ask Adam: Jersey colors, Markov’s future, and the NHL’s playoff format

Adam Proteau
James Neal (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

This is THN’s online mailbag. I trust you’re familiar with how these things work, so let’s get right to it. Thanks to all who submitted a question.

Adam,

Regarding home and away jerseys; who’s supposed to wear white/color and when? I was under the impression home teams wore colored jerseys, and the visiting teams wore white. This was reversed however in Thursday’s game between the Penguins and the Red Wings: the Pens wore black and the Wings wore white. I asked the Twitterverse and the majority response was that Detroit asked to wear white. Is there a rule? What is it?
Rachel Katherine, Boston, Mass.

Rachel,

You’re right, NHL teams by-and-large are supposed to wear their dark jersey at home and their white jersey on the road. But the league does allow for the situation to be reversed on a few occasions each year – if the team wants it. That was the case last night. A Red Wings spokesman confirmed Friday that the team usually chooses a few home dates every season to wear their road colors, simply to give fans a different look. Read more

Ask Adam: Crosby; McDavid; Harding; and Weiss’ future in Detroit

Sidney Crosby (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

It’s Friday. It’s mailbag. Thanks to all who submitted a question.

Hey Adam,

Just a quick question. I was thinking about the Sabres recent trade with Washington (Jaroslav Halak for Michal Neuvirth and Rostislav Klesla). I know the Sabres were more after Neuvirth, but then just looking at a trade of Halak for Neuvirth seems a bit off. My question is, shouldn’t the Sabres have the right to nix the trade since Klesla won’t play for them? Or even get like a compensation pick based off of salary. What if a high-end player refused to report to a team? That could really mess a team up if they gave up a lot to acquire them. Thanks!
Justin Compo, Buffalo, N.Y.

Hey Justin,

As you note, the Sabres made that deal primarily for Neuvirth. Klesla was essentially salary cap ballast that had to be included in the trade to make it work for Washington’s financial bottom line. So, when Klesla refused to report and said he’d be focusing on playing next season, it really wasn’t an issue.

Now, if a player didn’t want to go to a team and attempted to have the trade voided, he’s got the right to try. That’s what Lubomir Visnovsky did before an arbitrator rejected his request. But, far more often than not, a team that acquires any player makes inquiries as to the player’s willingness to play for them before the deal is consummated. In Klesla’s case, Sabres management simply didn’t care if he ever played a game for them. No harm, no foul. Read more

Ask Adam: Luongo, Trotz’s future, and the women’s game

Roberto Luongo (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

More mail? More mail. It’s Friday, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Thanks as always to those who sent in a question or two.

Hello there Adam!

In the early days of his WWE career, Randy Orton was doing the “Legend Killer” gimmick and cut a promo against a tired and haggard looking Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Orton said when you wake up in the morning and no longer have the drive to be the No. 1 guy in the company, the guy who wears the belt, well that’s the day you need to hang them up.

Well, I compare old Hacksaw to Roberto Luongo. Bobby Lou will never, and I mean ever, win a Stanley Cup in Florida. And he knows that. So my question is, why do so many players say it’s not about money when they talk to the media? Of course it is! If you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you’re just playing a game and collecting a paycheck, why jerk around the fans? Nathan Horton will play out his career in relative obscurity in Columbus, but at least he has his Cup ring. Same can’t be said for Luongo or his teammate Ed Jovanovski.

So why not just state the obvious and say “I’m in it for the money”? You’re not insulting anybody. I’d take Captain Obvious over Captain Hypocrite any day. I mean, really, if you’ve been in the game as long as Luongo and you’re NOT in it to win the Stanley Cup, just what are you doing there anyways?
Steve Dicker, Paradise, Newfoundland

Hello there Steve!

While I’m sure there are NHLers who do what they do more for the love of the money than the pursuit of a championship, Luongo isn’t an example of one. When he signed his 12-year contract with the Canucks, they weren’t a sad-sack team with no chance of winning a Stanley Cup. To the contrary: they’d just won their division and a playoff round. It’s not his fault GM Mike Gillis horribly mismanaged Vancouver’s goaltending situation to the point he had no choice but to move him for a relative pittance.

But no matter which player you point to as signing somewhere for monetary reasons, you can’t expect them to be candid about that. People like you and I might appreciate the honesty, but imagine the team marketing campaign: “Come See Us Play! Not Everybody Wants To Be Here, But Everybody’s Getting Paid!” Not the best optics, I’m sure you’d agree. Read more

Ask Adam: bigger ice, Isles trade assets, and the NHL’s Olympic future

Adam Proteau
Thomas Vanek

The NHL is back in full swing after the Olympic break, but THN’s online mailbag never stops swinging. Thanks for all the submissions.

Adam,

After watching another round of Olympic hockey, once again I really enjoyed watching the game being played on a larger ice surface. Any chance of the NHL going to a larger surface anytime soon? I’m guessing it’s a million-to-one shot, but I can’t be alone here.
Ed Beckmann, Livermore, Col.

Ed,

In this case, I’d say that’s a generous set of odds. I’d also say it was even less likely than that. For one thing, there are many NHL people who will tell you the style of game that’s played on the bigger ice isn’t their idea of entertaining hockey. And to be fair to them, there were certainly some excitement-challenged games in Sochi.

But beyond the change to the on-ice product, the financial costs associated with removing rows of seats would be another obstacle in the way of making the ice dimensions larger. Now, just because teams remove x number of rows, that doesn’t mean they can’t transfer the higher ticket prices to fans in what would be their new front row seats. But there would be fewer people in the arena, which means fewer people at the concession stands.

Former NHLer Bobby Holik has said a number of times that bigger ice would also give players more room to avoid collisions (and by extension, concussions), but I don’t think anybody, Holik included, is expecting the league to make that change. So don’t hold your breath. Read more

Ask Adam: trades, shootouts – and Kessel for the Hart Trophy?

Phil Kessel (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Time for another THN mailbag. Thanks to all who submitted a question.

Adam, what teams can we expect activity from before the trade deadline?
Skjalg Hougen, Baerum, Norway

Skjalg,

Although I recently posted my picks for NHL teams that need to make a deal immediately after the Olympic break, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number of teams that will make one. Why? Because circumstances can change at any moment between now and March 5; injuries can force a GM’s hands, as can team slumps and other franchises breathing down their necks in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Certainly, the NHL’s bottom-feeders (Buffalo, Edmonton, Calgary, Florida and the suddenly John Tavares-less Islanders) are extremely likely to engage in a number of deals. But other than that, there’s nothing that suggests any Stanley Cup contender is guaranteed to make roster changes. There are simply too many variables that can impact their present and their future. Read more

Ask Adam: Canucks’ future, Calder race leaders, and a later trade deadline

Adam Proteau
Alex Edler (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

This is THN’s online mailbag – and a special Valentine’s Day mailbag at that! Well, it’s not love-related. You know how it works. If not, I’m sure Wikipedia has a handy description. Thanks to all who submitted a question.

Hey Adam,

The Vancouver Canucks are just three years removed from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, and two years removed from a President’s Trophy. Once a perennial Western Conference powerhouse, this team had suddenly fallen from being elite to out of the playoff picture heading into the Olympic Break. Who is to blame most? Owner Francesco Aquilini for allowing management to spend too much money? General Manager Mike Gillis for making many questionable, head-scratching moves? Or the players?

Is it also time for this team to start a fire sale in the offseason, moving as many veterans as possible? Or can they only hope the prospects will shine soon?
Alex Hoegler, Vancouver

Hey Alex,

As I mentioned yesterday in my column, I think it’s time for the Canucks to start making big moves prior to the March 5 trade deadline. They’re an old team (12 players will be at least 30 or older by the end of 2014) and there are no elite-caliber prospects on the horizon who can compete with the likes of the young talent you see in Western Conference powerhouses such as St. Louis, Chicago or even Colorado.

Who’s to blame? I can’t blame the players for agreeing to lucrative, long-term deals. However, I can blame Gillis for throwing them out there (and including no-trade clauses for most, if not all of the core) so willingly and I certainly can blame Aquilini for hiring John Tortorella – a poor fit for this team’s personality, and someone who’s showing he has no answers for what ails them – as head coach. Gillis has run this team like the player agent he once was; he should have been dismissed after royally bungling their goaltending situation last season. Read more