Before we hear anymore sob stories about Jason LaBarbera and his plight with the Los Angeles Kings, let's consider a couple of things.
First, the guy is making $800,000 to play in the minors. That's more than 20 of the 60 guys who play in the NHL, including last year's Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Cam Ward, who pulls in $684,000, and, arguably the best goalie in the league this year, Dominik Hasek, whose base salary without bonuses checks in at $750,000.
Secondly, if you want to feel badly for anyone, think of the Los Angeles Kings and their fans. They're the ones who have to watch the likes of Sean Burke, Barry Brust and Yutaka Fukufuji because LaBarbera effectively can't be recalled from the American League's Manchester Monarchs.
The reason for that is because LaBarbera is on recallable waivers, meaning that if he is ever called up to the Kings, he has to first be placed on waivers. That means any team in the league could pick him up and the Kings would be on the hook for half of what remains of his salary this season. That's the case for any player who makes in excess of $95,000 a season in the minors.
The parity-crazed NHL has this stipulation in the CBA because it wanted to prevent the rich large-market teams from cornering the market on fourth-line players and third goalies with one-way contracts, then burying them in the farm systems so their salaries don't count against the cap and recalling them whenever they were needed.
What the league and NHL Players' Association should do is amend this rule to allow waiver-free call-ups for goaltenders in emergency situations. That's exactly the case for the Kings, who have seen their top two goalies, Mathieu Garon and Dan Cloutier go down with injuries.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DOM: Dominik Hasek celebrated his 42nd birthday Monday night by taking a couple of his Detroit Red Wing teammates out for dinner in Long Island.
But it wasn't just any teammates. Only the team's defensemen and penalty killers were invited to the dinner. Hasek obviously knows which teammates he needs to keep happy and well fed.
WHAT'S THAT VLAD?: At the ceremony to retire Ken Dryden's No. 29 with the Montreal Canadiens Monday night, Vladislav Tretiak actually said the following: Â“I played against Team Canada in 1972 and in 1975 against the Montreal Canadiens Â– the best hockey I ever saw,Â” he said. Â“Ken Dryden played unbelievable.Â”
Yeah, people couldn't believe how bad he was in those games. That would be the same Dryden who struggled terribly through much of the Summit Series, posting a save percentage of .832. The only saving grace for Dryden was that as shaky as he was, Tretiak was even worse when the series shifted to Moscow.
That would also be the same Dryden who stopped just 10 of 13 shots in the 3-3 tie between the Montreal Canadiens and the Red Army team on New Year's Eve 1975. The Canadiens badly outplayed the Soviets and the only reason why the game was close was because Dryden let in a couple of bad goals.
There are many reasons to celebrate Dryden's remarkable career, but his play against the Soviets is not one of them.
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