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Campbell's Cuts: Sundin situation clarified

Ken Campbell
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The Hockey News
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Campbell's Cuts: Sundin situation clarified

Ken Campbell
By:

A published report speculated the Toronto Maple Leafs might decline the option year on Mats Sundin's contract next season in order to sign him to a long-term deal that would save them cap space.

Well, not exactly.

The problem is by doing that the Leafs would, in effect, take advantage of the savings granted to them in the new CBA without picking up the option year. That amounts to them trying to have things both ways and it simply is not allowed in the new NHL.

Here's why: After the rollback Sundin's salary for each of last season and this season is $6.84 million with a team option for 2007-08 worth $5.32 million.

But for purposes of the salary cap, the three numbers are averaged and Sundin's salary against the cap is listed at $6.33 million per year, including next season when he'll make more than $1 million less if the Leafs pick up his option.

If the Leafs were to turn down the option on Sundin, his contract calls for a $1 million payout that would go against the cap. In addition, the Leafs would also be on the hook – in terms of the cap – for the $500,000 they saved each of the past two seasons, which would bring the total to $2 million.

That would go against the cap over the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons for a salary cap hit of $1 million per year.

That's why the Leafs will almost certainly pick up the option on Sundin's deal next season.

ALL-AROUND ATHLETE: Brian Savage didn't exactly make Tie Domi-type headlines when he announced his retirement this week, but Savage's ascent to the NHL was just as unlikely and compelling as Domi's.

Consider what former Montreal Canadiens teammate Mike Keane had to say about Savage just after Savage broke into the league.

“The guy has the worst body I've ever seen,” Keane told The Hockey News in 1995. “He has that weird shape, no shoulders and long arms. Great body for a 60-year-old, but this guy in his mid-20s.”

In fact, the Sudbury native gave up hockey entirely for the most formative years of his life to concentrate on playing golf full-time and didn't even skate between the ages of 15 and 17.

But that didn't mean he wasn't a dominant athlete. As a teenager, he won three consecutive Northern Ontario junior golf championships and captured longest drive competition at the Canadian junior golf championship. In fact, when he first went to the Miami (Ohio) University, it was on a golf scholarship.

When Savage wasn't driving the green on par fours, he was exhibiting terrific speed on the track. He has long been regarded as the best all-round track and field athlete in Sudbury's history, behind his brother Dave, who attended the University of New Mexico on a track and field scholarship. He still owns the local high school long jump record and won the 1988 Northern Ontario high school championship in the long jump and 800-metre, despite mistakenly grabbing his brother's size-9 spikes and jamming his size-11 feet into them for the events.

That all changed when, on a whim, he went to a Sudbury Wolves game with a couple of buddies one night and – watching players he played with as a child excelling in the game - became inspired to play again. That led to him playing high school hockey, which led to one year in Jr. A, interest from the Canadiens, a spot on the hockey team at Miami (Ohio) and a silver medal with the 1994 Canadian Olympic team.

Savage was a notoriously quick starter, who faded as the season went on, but he remained a serviceable NHLer to the end of his career.

FRESH FACE: Remember the name Mark Seidel, who was recently named head Ontario scout for the Minnesota Wild.

A native of Espanola, Ont., Seidel started his career running a Jr. A team in the northern Ontario outpost and spent his free time doing his own independent scouting reports on NHL prospects. From there he went to work for Red Line Report, an independent scouting publication, and was most recently with the International Scouting Service before joining the Erie Otters as assistant GM. Don't be surprised if Seidel surfaces in NHL management someday.

Ken Campbell's Cuts appears regularly only on The Hockey News.com. Want to get the inside edge from Ken himself? You can reach him at kcampbell@thehockeynews.com.

One of THN's senior writers, Ken Campbell gives you insight and opinion on the world of hockey like no one else. Subscribe to The Hockey News to get Ken's expertise delivered to you every issue.

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Campbell's Cuts: Sundin situation clarified