Calling Foul on the Tim Thomas Trade and Floor Circumvention

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Updated: February 11, 2013
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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.

Main photo Credit: slidingsideways via photopin cc

10 Comments

  1. nyifc

    February 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Your article makes no sense. First off the Isles are around 10m above the floor and have a history of being criticized for not unloading vets at the trade deadline. Plus Bailey was just activate so his salary now also counts which at some point will include Joensuu. Are you seriously trying to advance the notion the Isles are going to unload contracts when the trade deadline is only a few weeks before the season ends and if Streit goes, it’s likely a prospect like Ness, Donovan ELC would have to be inserted because they would be out of defenders saving Isles what again for a few weeks? So the man who bought the Isles in 2000, repaired a building he was a tenant in countless times and spent hundreds of millions then 10m+ for an arena project strong-armed Nassau while every team in New York/New Jersey received huge taxpayer money for new facilities including Msg getting 15m a year since 1982 to go with 1990 renovation? Maybe Wang should have done what Milstein did because after a decade plus of spending he’s been treated no better while every franchise in North American is getting new taxpayer funded buildings plus 15m a year to manage those buildings. (Phoenix/Edmonton) What did Wang strong-arm Nassau into with Mangano’s dumb referendum? Not one dime those other places are ready to hand to hockey owners from the taxpayers.

  2. nyifc

    February 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    One other thing. If Wang is so notorious for not opening his wallet, how come he did for Paul Martin, how come Ehrhoff at his press conference thanked the Isles for their generous offer. Oh that’s right, Wang does not front-load so like Toronto-Montreal no top free agents will sign with them either. Why give Yashin, Peca, DiPietro, Streit or sign any of his prospects? You do realize the man was spending 45m before the league even had a cap while other teams in new buildings getting taxpayer money were spending under 30m. Why did Wang pay Witt early or give Hunter five years. Funny how Tavares, Okposo, Grabner, Nielsen, Nabokov all gladly took his money when some of those players were pending UFA and could have signed elsewhere.

    • Big Mick

      February 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      So, what’s the reason for the “roster flexibility” as Snow described it? I find it truly amazing that you’re defending Wang/Snow on this.

      Yashin was a total mistake, Peca was worth it, but it was a good chunk of time ago. And as I recall Nabakov didn’t want to come to the team at all when he was claimed off of waivers!

      Walk me through this, because clearly I’m not looking at it with the correct optics.

      • nyifc

        February 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm

        The options you are presenting make no sense as you jump from Thomas in 2013 back to Yashin in 2000 who was a 90 point player at a time UFA began at 31 who was part of four playoffs in five years here while Peca had one playoff goal. It’s too early to make anything out of Snow’s roster flexibility comments whether that means adding/subtracting payroll or holding Thomas for next season……..Again let’s be fair the Isles have not unloaded vets at the deadline in past years beyond Guerin and this deadline is only three weeks before the season ends so any defensive prospect could come up and supplement the cap hit.

  3. anonymous

    February 11, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    I’m not really getting your point here. You are clearly biased and have not done any research to give you a proper grasp on the situation. I’m calling foul on your understanding of this deal, hockey, and journalism.

    • Big Mick

      February 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      So you think the Thomas trade is legit? I appreciate that you have an opinion, but you didn’t even state a point. You only threw an insult. Maybe collect some thought and then start typing.

  4. Badwriternarticle

    February 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Well then, when leaving a comment it says your email address will not be published. I see you decided to use the name from my email address rather than the name I submitted, which, I believe was badwriternarticle. I would have preferred to remain anonymous, however, I see you would rather have my name associated with my opinion. No problem, if you or anyone else need me to point out exactly why I posted the previous post, you know my name now…

    • Maksim Vasilyev

      February 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Not sure how it pulled it up, email and name removed

    • Big Mick

      February 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      I just simply replied to the comment. I don’t care about your name, but I wanted to understand where you were coming from. If my facts are incorrect, then explain where I went wrong. That is all. I can take criticism, and revel in good debate.

    • Ben Kerr

      February 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      No one did anything to alter your name. Perhaps you screwed up on the form. As it is, Max has removed your name though.

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