Why buy out Butler?

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Happy Friday. Once again, we’re here to (a) use the royal “we” whenever we see fit and (b) answer your latest batch of questions. Thanks as always for taking the time to submit and/or read.

Dear Adam, with a lockout very possible and the Devils needing money from tickets, merchandise, etc. How much will it affect owner Jeff Vanderbeek and the Devils? I know he said he had investors, but even if he did they obviously won’t put out without a NHL season. Thanks Adam, you do an awesome job.

Tony Egidio, Hopatcong, N.J.

Dear Tony,

I appreciate the kind words. Like all teams, the Devils will feel the impact of losing revenue. However, remember, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is a smart gentleman who has been through these sagas before and does his best to minimize the pain felt by the owners who pay his salary.

In this current labor showdown, Bettman has secured a TV contract with NBC that pays the league $200 million whether or not there’s actual hockey being played. That amounts to lockout insurance and, while it won’t pay all the bills, it certainly helps the owners stay united.

Now, the Devils have been rumored to be on the brink of bankruptcy for months and a prolonged lockout could do irreparable damage. But, as we’ve seen with the Phoenix Coyotes, the league will do as much as possible to ensure the franchise isn’t pushed into financial apocalypse.

Hey Adam. Why did Bryan Murray buy out Bobby Butler when they could have at least got a seventh round pick?

Austin Green, Dauphin, Man.

Hey Austin,

Sens GM Bryan Murray clearly wanted the cap room created by Butler’s buyout and you can see why: although the salary payout to the player is $200,000 both this and next season, the cap hit (as per the invaluable capgeek.com site) is actually only $50,000 this season and $200,000 next year. In this day and age, that’s a negligible amount of money to spend on opening up a roster spot.

Why not trade him for a low pick? First, you have to assume there’s a market for the player. And if other GMs were aware Murray was shopping Butler aggressively (as you’d have to imagine he did), they likely realized they might be able to acquire Butler without giving up any assets whatsoever. You can never assume that, just because something didn’t happen – in this case, a trade – nobody attempted to make it happen.

Hey Adam! I notice in THN's new Yearbook Wade Redden is not listed on the N.Y. Rangers' depth chart, despite having two more years left on his contract. So, what happens if Redden has a great training camp and earns his spot back in the NHL? Do the Rangers make roster moves to get in under the cap or have they simply said, "screw it" and given up on him?

Since they're still on the hook for another $10 million in salary, wouldn't it be in the Rangers' best interests to have Redden with the big club? After spending the past two seasons in the AHL, does Redden even get invited to camp anymore? I'm not picking on the guy, I'm just using him as an example. If Sheldon Souray can find his way back to the NHL, why can't Redden?

Steve Dicker, Paradise, Nfld.

Hey Steve!

I don't think you can argue Souray’s situation is similar to Redden’s. Souray was similarly buried by the Oilers in the American League and didn’t escape until his contract expired (and he signed a relatively inexpensive one-year deal with Dallas last season). Had Souray’s prior contract and its $5.4-million cap hit extended into last year, he’d likely still be riding minor league buses.

Even if Redden turned his game around, the Rangers’ blueline is fairly stacked as it is. Are you going to play him as a fifth or sixth D-man at that cost? No, you are not. Redden has two seasons to go with a $6.5-million cap hit and, barring a miracle, he’s not going to see NHL ice again until that contract expires.

Hello Adam, So Mr. Bettman talks about the NHL surviving the last lockout because the NHL has the best fans in the world. Is he presuming upon us fans? If so, could you offer me one good reason why I should return to the game once the lockout is ended? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Dan Doughty, Lindstrom, Minn.

Hello Dan,

I can’t speak for Bettman, but I understand where NHL owners are drawing their confidence this time. The way fans came back after the 2004-05 lost season emboldened owners into thinking they could be as, if not more aggressive toward the NHL Players’ Association in this new labor showdown and not have their bottom line affected.

That said, I also think no two situations are the same and these are uncharted waters the NHL is entering. There may be fans far more prepared to leave the league behind after what could be the second fully canceled season in eight years – or fans may just rush back once again. We’ll never know until it happens.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.



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