Monday, July 7, 2008

Arbitration, Cooke and Jag-off

Back from a vacation at Virginia Beach, and ready to report on some old news....

Well at least one thing is certain. Those rumors of Brooks Laich mulling over offer sheets from other NHL clubs are debunked.

But how much the Capitals will pay him in 08-09 remains to be revealed.

The good is Laich and Morrissonn will likely be wearing red sweaters again next season, but the bad is the two players have elected to go through arbitration.

Since I won't bother to explain it, here's what it is.

"NHL salary arbitration is a tool available to settle some contract disputes. The player and team each propose a salary for the coming season, and argue their cases at a hearing. The arbitrator, a neutral third party, then sets the player's salary."

This will be Laich's second time he has entered this process, the first being last year.

It's no wonder that Laich and Morrissonn have chosen this route. Laich is coming off his best season ever, and Morrission is the stay-at-home watch-dog, cleaning up after Mike Green's botched coverage at times. Laich also benefitted from Chris Clark's injury, allowing Laich to spend time on the PP in the slot, while Morrissonn and Green were let loose when Boudreau took over on Thanksgiving Day.

If both players really wanted as much money as they could get, they probably would have taken the rumored offer sheets back on July 1. By entering arbitration, at least we know the two players want to stay with the Caps, even if it means entering the potentially messy proceedings to come.

Fehr is expected to accept his qualifying offer, while Gordon has not made a decision yet.

As expected Matt Cooke will be donning a new sweater in 08-09. Cooke signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins for two years, at $1.2 million per season.

GMGM believes that Cooke would have been "redundant," on the Capitals roster. Current agitator Matt Bradley will reprise his role.

"You can't keep everybody," GMGM said in an interview with the Washington Post.

While the statement is true, and Bradley is a capable agitator, it is a shame to see Cooke go. If there was one player during the first round playoff bout with the Flyers who actually stood up for his teammates, Cooke was one of them. Cooke is a physical presence who will be missed, but hopefully can be replaced.

Cooke is expected to replace former Penguins agitator Jarko Ruutu, who left to join the Ottawa Senators.

If you haven't already heard, Jaromir Jagr is heading to Russia to play for Avangard Omsk, the Russian club he joined during the lock-out.

Jagr leaves a mixed legacy with the NHL.

In his prime, he led the Penguins to two Stanley Cups, earned the Hart trophy in 99, and held the scoring title for five seasons.

In his decline, he crippled the Washington Capitals, broke up with his girlfriend (Miss Slovakia), was pursued for unpaid taxes by the IRS, and never created the team chemistry with Scott Gomez, and Chris Drury that the Rangers hoped for.

In his farewell address to New York Post reporter Larry Brooks, Jagr had choice words for the likes of Mike Milbury. But in an interview with a Russian magazine, Jagr claims he "wants to say sorry to Leonsis."

Jagr leaves the NHL with 1,599 points. Kind of symbolic for a player who is highly respected for skill, but loathed for his personality.

Good riddance and see you in international play.

Have fun getting cross-checked by Chris Simon in your new league.

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