Subban settlement sets a precedent Canadiens brass can live with

Saturday August 2nd, 2014

After all that, P.K. Subban got the deal he wanted.

The Montreal Canadiens shocked the hockey world Saturday afternoon with the announcement that they'd reached an accord with the 2013 Norris Trophy winner.

Those feelings that were rubbed raw during Friday's confrontational arbitration hearing? All better now, thanks to a soothing, eight-year, $72 million balm.

According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA, Subban will earn $7 million in each of the next two seasons, with his highest earnings, $11 million, coming over the following two years.

Top Line: P.K. Subban fallout; case of missing Stanley Cup ring; more links

The agreement is vindication for Subban, who deserves every penny of this deal. He's already the most electrifying player in the game, and at 25, his best years lie ahead of him. That $9 million AAV may never look like a bargain, but you can bet he'll give the Canadiens their money's worth for the duration of the contract.

As happy as he must be, the real winner today is Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin. Not that he's off the hook for his mishandling of this whole affair -- he'll have to explain how he let the process careen off the tracks as dangerously as it did -- but in the end he avoided being saddled with an arbitrator's award, got his best player locked up through the prime of his career and ostensibly salvaged a key relationship that only 24 hours ago seemed damaged beyond repair.

Just as important as restoring the peace is the statement this deal makes to the rest of the organization, especially potential core players Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. Both will come to the end of their entry-level contacts after the 2014-15 season, and it's a safe bet Bergevin will expect them to accept bridge deals similar to the one he negotiated with Subban prior to this deal.

Have we seen the last of these notable NHL free agents?

That's not an unfair stance, especially given Galchenyuk's injury history, but that position would have been nearly impossible to sell if he hadn't fairly rewarded Subban today. Now Bergevin can point to this agreement and tell the next generation of kids it's up to them to pay their dues, prove what kind of players they are and force him to open the checkbook on the third contract. Now he can honestly say that if they deliver on expectations -- or go beyond, as Subban did -- they'll get what they deserve in the end.

Let's just hope the process isn't quite as dramatic the next time.

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