Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Marian Hossa Cap Recapture Circumvention Theory

I'm not a Doctor. Let me start there. News broke today that 38 year old Marian Hossa is allergic to hockey equipment and will eventually be placed on the Chicago Blackhawks long term injured reserve, probably ending his career. Apparently they can't order special equipment that he's not allergic to. He's allergic to all equipment. Once upon a time I got rashes from hockey equipment. It's called Eczema. It's common and easy to treat. They haven't said what Hossa's condition is, so it could be more severe than what I had.

I'm not disputing that Hossa has a medical condition. I'm sure he does. Everybody has something that can cause discomfort. The part that arouses my suspicion is the timing. Hossa is one of those players who signed a 10+ year contract that was front loaded with a back dive to circumvent the salary cap. The idea is that the player retires when the salary flatlines and he gets paid more for a lower cap hit. It was deemed illegal in the 2013 CBA. That CBA even went so far as to add a significant "cap recapture" penalty to punish all those teams who circumvented the rules. Chicago was one of them. The Blackhawks are jammed tight up against the cap for the next few seasons. Had Hossa retired when he originally planned to retire at age 38, it would have hurt the team baldly. Hossa going on LTI instead of retiring helps them substantially.

Was Hossa not already planning to retire at age 38 when his actual salary dropped from $7M to $1M? The team would have been painfully aware of what his impending retirement would mean for a roster already projected to be over next year's cap. This is not an injury that is preventing him from playing. He's saying that the discomfort has become too much and it's not worth it to him to continue his career. Isn't that why most athletes retire? Their health starts to falter later in their career and they retire when it's no longer worth it to them. He's already proven he can play just fine despite the ailment. I'm not sure why Chicago should get to circumvent the cap recapture penalty because Hossa is ostensibly retiring.

It's possible that Hossa always intended to play out the back dive and I'm just an insensitive jerk who loves conspiracy theories. Maybe they did not just look for whatever was "most wrong" with him and use it as an excuse to LTI him instead of facing a cap recapture penalty. Maybe it's just me.

Somehow though, I think that the other "back dive" contracts out there that are illegal under today's rules, might produce similar career ending ailments. Let me make a few predictions...

Henrik Zetterberg, 2018 - painful foot blisters
Roberto Luongo 2019 - hurt feelings
Jeff Carter 2020 - virulent jock itch
Duncan Keith 2020 - paralyzing case of athlete's foot
Jon Quick 2020 - sore groin
Shea Weber 2022 - shin splints
Ryan Suter 2022 - hamstring pull
Zach Parise 2022 - aching feet

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