The first statement in bold is incorrect - in his official retirement press conference, he was asked if he knew about the age 35+ rule when he signed the 3 year extension and the financial implications it would have on this team: His answer "Yeah I know, they explain me everything - Yes I know". (https://www.nhl.com/...7578/c-44232103) - fast forward to the 7:13 mark.
The second statement in bold is exactly why he shouldn't have his number retired, nor will the organization celebrate him much moving forward.
He was absolutely one of the best two-way players we have had on this team, and he left on the worst terms I can remember. To say that we offered him a hometown discount is generally true, but also a very ironic statement. We seem to forget that in 2001 - he came to a championship caliber team, to learn from the best coach in NHL history at a time when the KHL was incomparable in terms of player salary. In the 14 years he played here, he amassed over $80,000,000 USD - which actually would have made Russia the "hometown discount" had he stayed there his entire career.
The reason I can't side with him here, has more to do with the collateral effects this decision renders - more than him deciding to leave early. He signed a 3 year contract extension exactly 2 years ago, and apparently needed convincing to honour even the 2nd year before doing the exact same thing in Russia. That disregard toward the ownership/franchise that took a chance/invested heavily into him makes it clear that he absolutely doesn't care about the state of this team, or the fact that (1) unloading his contract is going to cost us a valuable asset or (2) if we fail to unload his cap hit, we cant sign an equivalent replacement.
All in all, from the start of this post-season when he approved the release of an article that confirmed he was heading back home - which was an ill timed distraction - to the news of this weekend, I can't say any of it sits well with me. He failed to do what was so obviously the right thing in this case, and play out the final year. I would understand injury, or perhaps a legitimate family situation - but to simply go home (considering the impact it has on the Red Wings) a year early makes me feel like when he needed us, we gave him every opportunity and more to succeed and make his "family" a lot more money than Russia could have. But the KHL has evolved, and maybe now that he doesn't need us as much as he once did - his decision becomes one out of preference rather than respect.
But I really don't think the cap hit for one year is that bad. Maybe we don't sign any free agents and go with the kids. That could end up being great for the organization long-term with AA, Mantha, maybe Bertuzzi getting more opportunity than usual. We weren't going to win the cup next year anyway. Also, I think him leaving actually gives us more of an opportunity to sign Stamkos than we would have had.
Russia would have been the hometown discount? What does that mean in the context of what I was talking about? I was making the point that he could have made more by signing with other teams in the NHL. Just because he could have made less in Russia doesn't negate that. He stay with us for 14 years which is rare in the NHL and shows loyalty. As for the "KHL has evolved" stuff - If you're trying to insinuate that he's going there for more money, we debunked that in another thread. That league is struggling due to Russia's economic woes and the hard cap for that league is being lowered successively for the next few years. He won't make more there for next year. His salary would have to be over 7.5 mill.
He hired an indepentent lawyer and talked to the player's union to try to find a way to leave without leaving us with the cap hit. Doesn't sound like disregard to me.
He's divorced, his ex-wife took his daughter back to Russia. He's only able to see her the summer months. I consider that a legitimate family situation. We don't really know the specific (rightfully), but I think you can imagine the effect of losing touch with your daughter.
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