Calling Foul on the Tim Thomas Trade and Floor Circumvention
Under normal circumstances, the announcement of a trade like this would have whipped throngs of Islanders fans into a joyous frothy frenzy. But, the Islanders acquisition of Stanley Cup goaltender Tim Thomas was anything but normal. The purpose of the Islanders trading a meaningless pick for Thomas was less about acquiring an upgrade in net and all about bending the rules of the current CBA, just like Garth Snow himself did with those ridiculous bookshelf shoulder pads he had when he played in net.
The reality is that Tim Thomas will never report to the Islanders, thus the trade will be disputed at the end of the season, and since Thomas is in a contract year, the Isles will not even lose the draft pick. Isles GM Garth Snow was quoted on Thursday saying that the move gave his team “roster flexibility.” Funny, I thought it simply got the Isles to the cap floor. Not only that, it assists the Boston Bruins, allowing them cap space to accommodate the spending spree GM Peter Chiarelli went on before the lockout began.
To be perfectly honest, this deal smells worse than Gordon Gekko.
Let’s not vilify the general managers here. They are only getting their marching orders from the owners. However, the two owners involved are notorious in their own rights.
Charles Wang has become notorious out in Long Island for refusing to open his wallet to entice quality free agents to his team. He has continuously tried to strong arm Nassau county into funding his Lighthouse Project in order to get the Isles a new home. Don’t get me wrong, there is a good reason they call the Isles arena the Nassau Mausoleum. It has been falling apart for the better part of two decades. However, to get a better store front, you need a good product to show. The Islanders have regularly been at the bottom of the standings, and although they have been one of the most surprising teams out of the gate in the East, recently they have came down back to earth and are currently on a four game skid.
Then there’s the case of Nino Neiderreiter. Last season, the Islanders decided to keep the overwhelmed Neiderreiter up with the big club simply to get to salary floor, and instead of treating him with care in the spirit of developing him, the staff either saddled him with big time minutes or making him a healthy scratch. It’s no wonder he wants a trade. Clearly, the Isles management currently have little interest in actually putting a winning product on the ice, which is baffling, since Wang got his new state of the art arena, bringing the Isles to Brooklyn when the Nassau Coliseum lease expires.
The owner on the other end of this deal is also infamous. During the most recent work stoppage, Jeremy Jacobs was largely categorized as a hard line owner, looking to crush the NHLPA. Based on what I know about how the CBA negotiations unfolded, that’s a fairly accurate assessment. It’s very interesting that the deal got done without Jacobs in the room, and during negotiations, the air was poisoned as soon as he walked into the room.
Just hours before the great lockout of 2012 began, Jacobs finished signing his name to a tremendous group of contracts, getting all his ducks in a row, while most likely thinking that he will never have to honor these contracts. I’m aware what I’m insinuating here. It’s called fraud. I think it’s very interesting to note that two of the teams that spent the most during the summer before the lockout are owned by members of the initial negotiating committee that put an initial offer on the table demanding 24% refund on player salaries. I’m looking at you Craig Leopold and Jeremy Jacobs.
The NHL could have stepped in to block this sham of a trade, but Wang and Jacobs’ exchange of nothing more than a bank transfer got the thumbs up from Gary Bettman’s deputy, Bill Daly, who was quoted as saying the Tim Thomas’ contract remains a hockey asset. But, I thought the asset is the player, not the piece of paper he signed. Am I wrong?
Expect more shenanigans between NHL teams. I know the ugly memory of this most recent lockout is still fresh, and it seems absolutely ridiculous to start talking about warning signs that may not become relevant until 8-10 years from now, but this is just the beginning. I’m sure the capologists and accountants are scouring the current CBA looking for anything and everything they can use as a loophole to get a foot up on the other guy. But, it’s this shady gamesmanship, like the Thomas trade, that caused the length of this lockout, nearly doing irreparable damage to the sport we love. And if the NHL management REALLY wanted to promote the game, Bettman, Daly, and the rest would have taken a look at Wang’s trip to the Boston Bruins ATM and blocked the trade.
And that is the Last FN Word.