Thursday, August 9, 2012

Inside Track: Howard Contract Extension Talks

What follows was put together by dedicated readers Nick and Michelle. At least I think they're dedicated readers. No, I'm sure they are, otherwise why would they volunteer to write for it. I'm fairly confident that they read this blog regularly and are constantly sharing it with friends, family and strangers. 

Anyway, I asked them to undertake this project after a spirited Twitter debate and they came through with gusto. The links on their names will take you to their Twitter feeds and I highly recommend following them as they're fun people. Photoshop Extraordinaire Josh Howard provided the photoshopping duties, and clicking his name will also take you to his Twitter feed. Everything that follows is their work, edited by yours truly and approved by the authors.  -Mike
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Like many of you, we’re suffering through the doldrums of another off season and it hasn’t been an easy summer for any of us. We’re Cup-less, devoid of the trademark star signing of years past, and were only given an odd signing or two. (Mikael Samuelsson? What's next Kenny, Brett Lebda and Andreas Lilja? We're kidding, please don't do that)

As many of you know the Red Wings are also preparing for NEXT offseason when a number of players are entering free agency, including Val Filppula and one James "Tiberius" Howard. Lucky for you, our tinfoil wearing Wingnuts, we managed to get a bug into General Manager Kenneth Mark Holland’s office at Red Wings HQ. Double Agent Ty Conklin planted the wire under the pretense of plunging the private toilet located in Ken's office.

What follows is the transcript of a top secret conversation between Ken Holland and Jimmy Howard's agent, Lee Gleader. We hope you find the information as interesting as we did. Enjoy.

The Scene:

Ken Holland sits in an over sized leather chair behind a desk that's littered with Tic-Tacs, golf tees, and a calender that looks rather empty save for numerous golf times penciled in. Lee walks into the room looking remarkably like Jimmy Howard wearing a Ty Conlkin mustache and dark sunglasses.

Security cameras had been disabled during this highly classified meeting,
but thanks to a hacked traffic camera and some strategically placed mirrors,
Josh Howard was able to give us a sneak peak at Jimmy Howard's Agent
Editor's Note: Contract negotiations are long and arduous, so settle yourself in, grab a drink and then hit the break.


Ken: Nice to meet you Lee, you must be Jimmy Howard's new agent; you look familiar have we met before?

Lee: Yeah, I get that… *clears throat and starts again in a deeper voice* I get that a lot; I just have one of those faces I guess.

Ken: Um, well yes, but you're also wearing leg pads that look astonishingly familiar...

Lee: Errrmmm, right, well...

Ken: Well, it’s nice to meet you, Mr. Gleader and I hope you'll pass on my regards to Mr. Howard and his baby boy, Jimmy Howard v4.0.

Lee: Fair enough, I know your day is ticking away. Jimmy Howard loves playing in Detroit and would like to sign a contract extension; we just need to come to an agreement on the terms. When your Mule goes lame, your Big Rig jackknifes the only thing standing between the enemy ravaging your net or being denied faster than Babcock can Death Stare someone is your goalie. Who are you gonna call on? Your Conk may get blocked and your Big Mac may leave your stomach feeling a bit wonky, but you can always count on your Jimmy to stand firm. That being the case, let’s start with 5 years at $5.5 Million/year.

Ken: I’m glad to hear Jimmy would like to sign an extension with the team, but I'm afraid we are looking for different terms. Long term, big money contracts for goalies just isn't my style. I brought up the idea of signing Jimmy for a long time at the last GM meeting, but couldn't hear any responses because Mike Gillis wouldn't stop crying and muttering something about "big, goofy, overpaid choke artist." Why don't we just extend your client's contract for two more years, at $3 million per year?

Lee:  Ken, did you have your Stanley Cup rings in your ears again when I said I was here to talk about James Tiberius Howard? You’re starting out in Steve Mason or Dwayne Roloson territory. You and I both know that Jimmy is a better goalie and has better numbers to back him up.

Let’s look at last year’s numbers just for shits and giggles. 


Games Played
Wins
GAA
SV%
Jimmy Howard
57
35
2.13
.920
Steve Mason
46
16
3.39
.894
Dwayne Roloson
40
13
3.66
.886

The whole world knows that in Detroit Mason or Roloson’s performance would get a goalie run out of town.
Now, I think Jimmy is worth my original proposal, but in the interest of negotiations, how about 5 years at $5 Million/year and you throw in free bread sticks for the duration of his contract.

Ken: Here's my problem with paying your client that much, Mr. Gleader. 

Seven out of the ten goaltenders with better save percentages than your client made under $5 million last season. That includes Brian Ellioit, Kari Lehtonen, Mike Smith and Tim "Crazy Pants" Thomas. Goaltenders do not tend to pay dividends on long term contracts after cashing in on good seasons. Look at the eleven longest active contracts entering last season. How many of those guys would you want to build a franchise around? Maybe 3? 4, if you count Jonathan Quick. 

I just don't think Jimmy has been at a high enough level for long enough, to warrant a contract that spans 5-10 years. What if we went 3 years, 3.75 million per? Hold that thought, Lee. Garth Snow is at the door. He keeps trying to sell me a pile of broken glass with a DiPietro jersey draped over it.

Lee: I don’t want to pump Jimmy’s tires here, but he has put up his numbers while having starter responsibilities and playing time, Schneider hasn’t has had either yet and it’s unknown what kind of performance he’d put up with the added pressure. If Jonathan Quick is the standard then let’s take a look at his humangous big 10 year extension and the $7 Million he’ll be earning for the next 7 of those years shall we?

Jimmy was 11th in save percentage, 7th in GAA and tied for 5th in shutouts and tied for 5th in wins last year with Quick . Plus, having an enforcer on the ice at all times can come in handy, just ask Sidney Crosby what happens. Jimmy has the passion, dedication and skills you need. I’m sure we can come to an agreement wherefore everyone is happy. How about we agree to 4 years at 4.75 million per year and you agree to get Ty Conklin to stop following Jimmy around with a toilet plunger saying over and over again “Please Jimmy, I’ve got my technique down really good now and I’ll work for food and a place to sleep”.

Ken: Don't you worry about Mr. Conklin. He's been, erm, "reassigned" to our top secret hockey facility in Siberia; as a janitor of course. We can't have him doing anymore damage ON the ice, now can we?

I understand that Jimmy sees himself as a top-tier goaltender, and seeing the deals that guys like Quick and Rinne get, he wants a piece of the pie. But I'd like to take a minute and remind Jimmy about a certain star goalie of the past that played for the Winged Wheel, and the sacrifices he made to ensure a team that could compete for a Cup.

His name? Dominik Hasek: One of the all-time greats, two stints with the club and a guy who had six shutouts in a single postseason run. When he came back for his second tour, he was a 38 win goalie for $750,000. The following season, and this is the important part Lee, he turned down $5 million to ensure the Wings could assemble the best team possible in front of him. 

Jimmy will have to decide if he's okay with a top 6 D with Ericsson, Quincey, White and Kindl in front of him for the next five years; or if he'd like us to pursue better talent when we can. I've got my eyes on a fantastic undersized winger in the Australian Hockey League we'd like to convert to defens.

I know that Jimmy is a fiery guy, and I enjoy a good face wash on Princess Crosby as well as the next guy; but we can't pay a guy millions to play goalie if he's going to break fingers during a temper tantrum. He should look at the $3 million in salary Hasek told the team to keep after he was injured, I don't think Jimmy would be willing to do the same. All the same, we've invested a lot of time and effort to molding Mr. Howard into the goalie he is today, and I'd like to keep him around. How does 3 years, $4.15 million per sound?

Lee: If you’re so taken with Hasek, I hear he’s available. He might be willing to play for some good joint lube and an agreement that Homer sticks around to teach him English. Realistically in today’s NHL you can only expect a player to take so much of a discount and give up so much; you wouldn't expect players to go back to using wooden sticks just because that’s the way it used to be, would you?

Now, about that defense. With the LidstromBot returning to his secret lair to carry out his plans of world domination, and the on ice backup goalie getting chummy with the sharks, added to the constant risk of suspension from that head hunting Smith character; Jimmy’s going to have a lot more work to do. I.. uh, I mean… we would like to know that you’re going to do everything in your power to acquire the best defense possible; though it sounds like I may need to invest in some raspberry jam if you don’t get some better prospects. How about 4 years at $4.5 Million/year and Jimmy gets one of those new water jet packs.

Ken: It's a solid point, Mr. Gleader, and something we can look at just a little bit closer.


Year
Goalie
Salary
2005-2006
Cam Ward
Entry Level Contract
2006-2007
Jean-Sebastian Giguere
$3.99 Million
2007-2008
Chris “Put me in the HOF” Osgood
$1.8 Million
2008-2009
Marc-Andre Fleury
$5 Million
2009-2010
Antti Niemi
$826,875
2010-2011
Tim Thomas
$5 Million
2011-2012
Jonathan Quick
$1.8 Million

Let's look at every Stanley Cup winning goalie and his cap hit since the lockout. Now, we don't have to bring up the fact that MAF can thank Patrick Sharp for handing him the 08-09 Stanley Cup on a ruptured titanium cyborg testicle platter; but I think this paints a pretty good picture of our goals here. More often than not, teams succeed by having a good value in goal with a guy good enough to get hot during the playoffs. That's 5 out of 7 years, and it should have been 6, a team won with a goalie making under $4 million.

Lee: You drive a hard bargain, but Jimmy’s a team player and always puts the good of the team and his teammates ahead of himself. He’s just coming into his prime and with the experience he’s gained the last few seasons and his dedication to always improving and pushing himself to be better; he’ll be worth every penny and more of his new contract.

Why don’t we say… 4 years at $4.4 Million per year and you throw in a new Hungry Hungry Hippos game. Abdelkader smashed the last one after he though he lost all his marbles; Datsyuk really stole them all but no one’s telling Abby that.

Ken, I think we both want the same thing here. We’ve been getting closer, stripping things down to the bare essentials and feeling each other out; I think we’ve reached the point where we can close the deal and both get what we want. I’d like something a little bigger and longer, but I understand you only have so much to work with, and I’m confident we can make the best of the situation. I'm laying it all out on the table for you; this may be the last chance you get. Now grab your pen, is it in your pocket, and take what I’m offering.

Ken:THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!

Lee: Uhh, what?

Ken: I mean... Sounds like we've got a deal, Mr. Lee Gleader

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