Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Burke vs. Lowe, now in desktop wallpaper format!


They fight, they fight,
They fight, they fight, they fight,
Fight fight fight,
Fight fight fight,
Burkie and Kevin Lowe.

Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy has done a nice job of breaking down the latest Lowe tirade. I've got some thoughts, too, but those will have to wait (I've written and scrapped two posts about it already). For now, all you get is a fabulous cartoon from a true "pathetic hockey market" patron. Enjoy!

30 comments:

RudyKelly said...

I like how Brian Burke is Itchy.

Alexander Dubcek said...

Just think of how you'll have to change that should the two ever decide to bury Scratchy's, er, Lowe's hatchet:

They love, They share
They share and love and share
Love, love, love
Share, share, share
Burkie and Kevin Lowe!


Of course, just like the non-violent Itchy and Scratchy Show, the non-acrimonious Burkie and Kevin Lowe will suck something fierce.

Earl Sleek said...

Of course, it begs the question, which GM is likeliest to step up and grab the peace-making role of Poochie?

Scott said...

Dean Lombardi

Earl Sleek said...

Oh, and if any Ducks fans want to go console MetroGnome about the Flames' one year, $1.95M signing of Todd Bertuzzi, I'm sure he could use some calming advice.

Earl Sleek said...

It's also possible that the part of Poochie has been already been claimed by a "cease and desist" order from Gary Bettman.

Bummer.

Tyler said...

That order doesn't bind their respective fanbases though, does it? Assuming not, fuck you Sleek, you talentless hack.

Rick said...

I'm not defending Burke. I think he drastically oversimplified the contract situation, but...

...I'm also not defending Lowe. He has not won a Cup as a GM (and, let's face it, was just along for the ride on the ones he won as a player), has not drafted better than average and hasn't done much about making Edmonton more attractive.

He can say what he wants about Anaheim, but there's never been a huge problem getting FAs to sign there and even Disney was usually willing to spend money--so there's more than one factor that goes into what makes a great hockey market. Last I checked the Ducks had perfect attendance numbers, too.

I think if Lowe's comments had stopped at Burke is a prima donna, has to have the spotlight, and is just pissed about Penner--then he would have ended up looking a lot better than adding on other dubious and somewhat ironic commentary.

And as for how the Ducks got Scott Niedermayer--Rob was here before Burke came. Anyway, that was less disgusting than getting Pronger to go to Edmonton by leveraging the weatherman his wife was fucking at the time before Prongs found out.

I think it worked out pretty well for Rob and Scott, don't you?

Earl Sleek said...

fuck you Sleek, you talentless hack.

Don't forget "loudmouthed moron", and you should probably point out that Lowe has six more cup rings than I do.

We have to give TSN some ammunition to keep this story front-and-center for a few summer-lull days, so please, no holding back. :)

I think if Lowe's comments had stopped at Burke is a prima donna, has to have the spotlight, and is just pissed about Penner--then he would have ended up looking a lot better than adding on other dubious and somewhat ironic commentary.

Very, very true. I suppose calling Burke a spotlight-hog isn't actually news, but it sure is accurate.

Scott said...

One thing I've heard a lot of is people complaining about Lowe causing this huge shift in compensation for RFAs. That seems blatantly wrong. I suppose he raised the profile of offer sheets, but in terms of compensation for players, the shift was already there. Some examples of other forwards signed to long-term contracts before the Penner sheet plus Perry and Getzlaf:

Ilya Kovalchuk:6.4M is 16.4% of 39M Cap
Rick Nash: 5.4M is 13.8% of 39M Cap
Martin Havlat: 6M is 13.6% of 44M Cap
Patrice Bergeron: 4.75M is 12.2% of 39M Cap
Ryan Getzlaf: 5.325M is 10.6% of 50.3M Cap
Eric Staal: 4.5M is 10.2% of 44M Cap
Corey Perry: 5.325M is 9.4% of 56.7M Cap
Ales Hemsky: 4.1M is 9.3% of 44M Cap
Sedin Bros: 3.575M is 9.2% of 39M Cap
Dustin Penner: 4.25M is 8.4% of 50.3M Cap

It doesn't look to me like Kevin Lowe had much to do for the market for these kinds of contracts. The offer sheet was new, but good RFAs were getting this much long before Lowe. Either Burke doesn't think Penner is on this level or he fucked up. Given his degree of whining, I'm going to go with, he fucked up.

Earl Sleek said...

Scott, good research, but there's three key differences between everyone on your list and Dustin Penner.

1) They were all highly drafted. Penner wasn't drafted at all.

2) They were all top-line contributors. Penner played easy minutes on a Getzlaf second line.

3) They all were coming off more than league-minimum deals. Penner was a $450k player before the deal.

So I think you're oversimplifying Burke's statements. It's not that K. Lowe was the first person ever to sign an RFA to a multi-year deal, but rather he was the first one to poach a middling player for top dollar. Like it or not, there is an impact to the move, one that is different than the impact of signing a Kovalchuk, Nash, etc. The price of young, middling talent has gone up, and while that may have been inevitable at some point, Lowe accelerated it significantly.

Mike in OC said...

Thats what I think too Scott. I think he did not expect it because Penner was an undrafted player. He thought he would still be able to extend his contract in the 2 mil range, enabling him to sign all 3 of them. Lowe steped in and the whole thing backfired. IMO

Rick is right on as well. Lowe crossed the line when he started talking shit about things other than Burke. I still can't beleive he called Bobby Ryan a bust pick, what the fuck did Bobby have to do with it?

Mike in OC said...

Earl beat me to it and said it way better...oh well!

Earl Sleek said...

I still can't beleive he called Bobby Ryan a bust pick, what the fuck did Bobby have to do with it?

Heh, well I think I've called him a "terrible pick" before also, but I don't know if it concerns me hugely. If Ryan played up to the hype of being picked right after Crosby, he'd be in the $7M range soon enough.

I think we might get a good player in Ryan eventually on a stomachable deal. Ironically, the less he's used at the NHL level the next couple of years, it's probably better for his chances of being in a Ducks uniform five years down the road (assuming salary reflects performance still on some level).

I'm still reflecting on what should be done with Ryan, but if the decision is to arbitrarily limit his ice time and results the next two years, I don't think I'll be that upset. Better that than to see him rack up 80+ points just before his new deal.

Scott said...

Response to point one: They were all highly drafted, and they were all resigned by the team that drafted them. The main difference to me is the offer sheet part, but the draft pedigree is different too.

Response to point two: Penner got paid less than all the other players on the list, which probably means he's worse than the other players. Penner was also brought to Edmonton to be a top line contributor and he did alright in that role. Not as well as anyone else on the list (except probably Bergeron), but then again he's also the least well-paid.

Response to point three: Most players received more than a 100% raise. I'm not sure that a player's previous salary is terrificly relevant. Martin Havlat received a 131% raise, Rick Nash 360%, Staal 378%.

What young middling talent is having the price go up? I only see RFAs getting signed to longer five or six year deals if the club thinks they're very good. Are you talking about the David Backes offer sheet where he received 2.5M for 4.4% of a 56.7M cap? That's almost half of Penner's and it's probably the example that could most be said to result from Kevin Lowe. I think this whole linkage is a figment of Burke's imagination.

Even if this is relevant, how is it relevant to Getzlaf or Perry? Why is Burke using this as a reason for how high Perry's contract is? Is Perry a terrible comparable to Hemsky and the Sedins?

Two answers I can think of:

1. Burke is misreading how the market has developed which is why he got taken in the first place.

2. Burke is bitter and whining and, understands the market, but is intentionally trying to belittle someone who got the best of him. Basically Burke is an asshole.

Earl Sleek said...

Even if this is relevant, how is it relevant to Getzlaf or Perry? Why is Burke using this as a reason for how high Perry's contract is? Is Perry a terrible comparable to Hemsky and the Sedins?

You are dead on here. I don't think it's hugely relevant to either contract, except perhaps there was an increased risk of an offer sheet to Perry at the time of his re-signing (but that's about the lessened stigma, not directly on price).

As for whose price is possibly going up? I can't say too much off the top of my head (Perry and Hiller were essentially the only RFAs the Ducks dealt with this summer), but perhaps there's problems with O'Sullivan and the Kings (he's not a top-liner, but I think he's holding out for money)? I dunno, but there's bound to be an increase somewhere--it's a market that loves comparables. Maybe just look over the RFAs that have not signed yet.

Basically, all anyone has to do to convince me that Penner had no impact is to show me where they predicted Penner's deal to be in excess of $4M. If that was predictable, then sure, Lowe's off the hook. If it wasn't predictable, then it was a significant jolt to the system.

I sure as hell wouldn't have predicted it, but hey, I'm just one guy with a passing interest in salary structure.

Basically Burke is an asshole.

I know Oilfans think I need to hear this every comment or so, but believe me, I know this. It's probably the least-contested part of Lowe's whole comeback. Let's be a little less Lowe-ish, however, and talk more about the issues raised and less about the guy who brought them up, shall we?

Scott said...

You obviously disagree with Lowe's talent analysis. Fair enough. He thinks that Penner is a first unit PP, top line LW. That's how he was played, that's how he was paid. The bet wasn't as sure as any of the other guys, so he paid less money. The contract seems reasonable to me based on Lowe's talent analysis and the market at the time for signing an RFA long term.

Penner is not a comparable for middling talent because that's not the role he was signed for. If you want to use Penner as a comp for your next contract, you better be getting ready to be a top line, top unit PP guy. Even the Backes thing is way more comparable to the offer sheet for Kesler (1.9M is 4.3% of a 44M Cap). To me it's these offers that could cause middling talent salary escalation. I can't see any examples where this has happened to a Penner comp because Penner's contract is for a different group of players. It didn't happen for any of:

Robert Nilsson:1.833M is 3.2% of a 56.7M Cap
Ryan Carter:0.625M is 1.1% of a 56.7M Cap
Chuck Kobasew:2.333M is 4.1% of a 56.7M Cap
Matthew Lombardi:1.817 is 3.2% of a 56.7M Cap
Scottie Upshall:1.225 is 2.4% of a 50.3M Cap

To me, that's the middling talent crew. Or are we talking about RFAs like Derek Roy, Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Carter, R.J. Umberger, Mike Richards, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Milan Michalek. They're not all equals but they're all being paid to be a top three forward on the team and they're all getting long term. These are the guys that Lowe lumped Penner with. Given how many other (better) comparables are available for these guys (listed previously to which we could add Simon Gagne and Marian Gaborik) I honestly don't think Penner is going to have much impact. It was alreay happening. Penner is a drop in the bucket. Some of these GMs are going to be wrong and pay dearly for signing a non top-three guy to top-three money. Maybe it'll be Lowe. Maybe not. We'll see. Penner's was different because it was an offer sheet.

But it was different for one more reason. I think the fact that Burke is being intentionally assholeish is relevant to the impression most people have. If he wasn't I don't think so many people would have the (false) impression that Kevin Lowe is to blame for salary escalation with elite RFAs (he certainly hasn't done anything to the "middling" market). It's Burke's false bluster that causes this. I'm not saying that so that you can discover it for the first time. I'm saying it because it's the reason people even have this impression.

Earl Sleek said...

Scott, btw, I just realized the point of your first comment. Sorry if I blew it off before, but I now get what you are getting at.

Still, I think I can get by with the notion that Penner is in a different category than most these guys, or rather that Penner's contract addresses a different question than "what do you pay your top homegrown players?"

I sort of wish now that I hadn't deleted the mostly-written piece about Penner (I deleted one last night about Penner's contract and one about pathetic hockey markets; just couldn't get the words straight). I'll get back to it later this week, but I think you'd find it surprisingly pro-Lowe. That Penner may end up a decent deal for the Oil, though (which I won't really judge until year three), is a different issue than whether it made a unique impact on RFA salary structure.

For kicks, here's what I said last November about whether the Penner signing was "wise"; I think it's still relevant.

"...the one aspect that strikes me the most about the Penner offer sheet: if I'm a GM that has publicly admitted his team's inability to attract UFAs, I wouldn't be in the business of driving up RFA salaries at the expense of UFA salaries. Sure, with the CBA being what it is, I'm sure eventually the stigma around offer sheets would have eventually disappeared, but still, it is significant that Kevin Lowe did trigger this market shift. Probably the best thing Edmonton has going for it is a solid group of young, entry-level talent; jumping the offer-sheet gun seems only to paint a dark future for keeping it together."

The Oilers probably will have the money to keep the key young pieces together when RFA status comes, but it probably will cost more than it would have pre-Penner-offer-sheet.

Earl Sleek said...

He thinks that Penner is a first unit PP, top line LW. That's how he was played, that's how he was paid.

Sure, but I think with other RFA cases, there was more a look at what a player had accomplished and less of a look at what maybe could be accomplished.

Penner was none of those things for Anaheim -- he did see some top PP time, but that was more for a different skillset than for a pure talent ranking.

I dunno, there's a lot of smart people who figured Penner for a much smaller dollar raise. Why can't it be said that Lowe paid more than market?

RudyKelly said...

I thought Penner was on the 2nd line with Getzlaf and Perry?

I don't think it's Lowe's fault that the market is different now, but it's an easy place to point out the change. Penner was a 24 year-old rookie coming off a 45-point season and he was given $4 million dollars a year; that's obviously going to be a shock to the system. Every successive RFA is going to look to that contract and point out that their client is younger, has more experience, and had a better year. It kind of set a baseline that was higher than someone like Burke would like. Now, it's not Lowe's fault that other GM's are so terrified of RFA's that they'll cave and give out stupid 3-year, $15 million dollar deals to guys like Ryan Carter, but it did play a small part.

Earl Sleek said...

Right on, except for this:

Now, it's not Lowe's fault that other GM's are so terrified of RFA's that they'll cave and give out stupid 3-year, $15 million dollar deals to guys like Ryan Carter, but it did play a small part.

You mean Jeff Carter. As Scott noted, Ryan Carter's playing for peanuts.

Earl Sleek said...

Well, fuck. I suppose tonight I'll instead write about the UFA acquisition of one Brendan Morrison.

Good news? He's unlikely to be the worst remaining member of the West Coast Express. Oh, and in case I haven't been saying it enough, good bye Schneider.

Morbo said...

Poochie blows. Which I guess fits if we're going with Bettman as Earl suggests.

Scott said...

"Sure, but I think with other RFA cases, there was more a look at what a player had accomplished and less of a look at what maybe could be accomplished."

I mostly agree with this assessment. Penner came off of one year and 45 points. It doesn't look special, but most of these guys are getting paid because of hope rather than track record. Patrice Bergeron, Eric Staal and Ales Hemsky each only had one "star-ish" year before they got paid. For Getzlaf it was one and a half. Rick Nash had 57 points (though that includes 40 goals) in his platform year. Marian Gaborik had never made it to 70 points. These offers have always been more about hope in future results than a proven long-term track record. Penner's track record was the worst. He also got paid the least. R.J. Umberger just received 4 years at 3.75 for 6.6% of a 56.7 Cap. Umberger had 50 points and only 13 goals (plus a what looks to be extremely lucky playoff run). His track record isn't special. He's also getting paid less. Is this a good bet for a first liner? I don't know, but we're probably going to get the chance to find out since it looks like he'll be their 1C in Columbus.

"Why can't it be said that Lowe paid more than market?"

He obviously paid more than Burke wanted to pay Penner. But Lowe had a different role in mind for Penner. That role carries a price tag. Penner's track record was less proven so he slots in at the bottom of what's paid to a player in that role. It seems for all the world like market value. You could say it was above market value, and that would be true if you were paying Penner to be a second-liner, second PP time as Burke was probably wanting to do. But Lowe paid him to do a different job. Let's say McDonald's has me working on the till for 8$/hr and they like my work but don't want to promote me to manager. Wendy's comes along to give me 15$/hr to be a manager. McDonald's can complain and refuse to make me a manager but it doesn't mean that Wendy's is paying above market value, it means Wendy's hired me to do a different job.

"I don't think it's Lowe's fault that the market is different now, but it's an easy place to point out the change."

I think this is the primary reason people do it. I think this is encouraged by Burke's boorishness and I can see why Lowe would find that upsetting. I also don't think that it describes the reality of how the market began to change.

"Penner was a 24 year-old rookie coming off a 45-point season and he was given $4 million dollars a year; that's obviously going to be a shock to the system. Every successive RFA is going to look to that contract and point out that their client is younger, has more experience, and had a better year. It kind of set a baseline that was higher than someone like Burke would like."

Can you think of any examples where this is true? Umberger didn't use Penner as a "base-line" since he received less even though they look to be very comparable players. It's a nice theory and all, but it just doesn't match up to what's actually happening.

Earl Sleek said...

I think this is encouraged by Burke's boorishness and I can see why Lowe would find that upsetting. I also don't think that it describes the reality of how the market began to change.

Perhaps, Scott, and overall good points. I won't get into "overpaying the market", because it's getting largely semantic at this point, but I still think we've described the Penner deal as being unique enough to be noteworthy, and in that regard I find it hard to (a) blame Burke for talking about it, or (b) believe its impact to be negligible.

Granted, Burke's got his own agendas too, but if GMs can talk about the effects of a $10M Sundin offer or a $7M Campbell offer, I think they can also talk about a $4.25M Penner offer. Whether you think the market-effect description is fair enough is certainly your option, but I dunno, holding Burke up to absolute sincerity is probably time wasted.

Specific examples is going to be tough on me particularly, as I'm not paying attention too carefully to RFA deals (especially in relation to previous season points) this summer. It's always a bit tough to do straight dollar-to-dollar comparisons, though. With Umberger's fewer dollars comes fewer years (and perhaps no threat of an offer sheet?), and I'm fairly sure these factors matter.

Still, who's to say Penner wasn't a baseline? He was quite probably a comparable to factor in, and there were other Umberger-like RFAs who probably earned lower raises. I know Perry went more expensive than I would have guessed a year ago (though I did peg it right a few weeks ago).

I'll grant you a large point, though. On a grand scheme, Lowe did not kill the cheap second contract (and I should probably go look to see if that was Burke's contextual quote). Still, he did fairly blatantly kill Penner's, and I don't know how that doesn't affect the next Dustin Penner, whoever that lucky guy will be.

Scott said...

Good discussion overall. Thanks. I do think the Penner situation was unique because he was "promoted" without even having one particularly good season of either 30+ goals or 60+ points. A marginal bet was new.

The next person with one of these types of contracts has arrived: R.J. Umberger (through trade instead of sheet). He received even less than Penner, but he again has no track record as a top line forward (30G or 60P). Another questionable (based on track record) deal was Mike Richards, since he signed it last December (before this past season he had never made it to 40 points). GMs are getting riskier. Someone is going to be wrong soon. It may have been Lowe. Penner was a 1LW that scored 47 points. Not very good at all.

I take your point on Burke's sincerity. I don't think any GM tells the whole story much of the time. To me, it's the fact that he has a blatant agenda and people listen to him thinking that the information is factual when it looks a lot more likely to be inspired by bitterness for what happened and because the market isn't going the way he wants. He seems to need someone to blame to make himself feel better about being complicit with the market. I would just laugh at his bluster except that it seems like smart people believe it sometimes and I find that frustrating.

Sundin looks to me to be pretty unique among UFAs. I think that he's the first UFA forward to approach the max. He's also looking for less term than most. Campbell's contract looks stupid to me, but only because I don't think Campbell is really a top two D option. Campbell comparables in this CBA:

Ed Jovanovski: 6.5M is 14.8% of 44M Cap
Dan Boyle: 6.667M is 13.3% of 50.3M Cap
Bryan McCabe: 5.75M is 13.1% of 44M Cap
Sergei Gonchar: 5.0M is 12.8% of 39M Cap
Kimmo Timonen: 6.333M is 12.6% of 50.3M Cap
Brian Campbell: 7.1M is 12.5% of 56.7M Cap
Wade Redden: 6.5M is 11.5% of 56.7M Cap
Pavel Kubina: 5.0M is 11.4% of 44M Cap
Andrei Markov: 5.75M is 11.4% of 50.3M Cap
Kim Johnsson: 4.85M is 11.0% of 44M Cap
Roman Hamrlik: 5.5M is 10.9% of 50.3M Cap
Sheldon Souray: 5.4M is 10.7% of 50.3M Cap

I don't think the market for Dmen has changed a whole lot. There are others who are under these numbers like Streit and Kaberle, but for the most part this is the range for star but not elite defencemen on a long-term deal. Campbell is nothing new. Also, we can already see some mistakes here (holy crap Ed Jovanovski... Kim Johnsson? Really? And of course Souray... idiocy...) For reference sake, here is the list for elite Norris-calibre on these types of contracts as well as Lidstrom (Short Term Deal) and Schneider(a duck on a ST deal):

Scott Niedermayer: 6.75M is 17.3% of 39M Cap
Zdeno Chara: 7.5M is 17.0% of 44M Cap
Chris Pronger: 6.25M is 16.0% of 39M Cap
Nick Lidstrom: 7.45M is 14.8% of 50.3M Cap
Mathieu Schneider: 5.625M is 11.2% of 50.3M Cap

Fucking Detroit discount.

Anyway, the point is there is a clear difference in the market for UFA elite and UFA star (which Jovanovski tries to cross). I'll be interested to see what Pronger gets his next UFA season. The elite pay scale might disappear since he won't have any comparables. Then again, that hasn't stopped Sundin from getting an elite F offer.

Anyway, thanks for the discussion. It's fun.

Earl Sleek said...

Fucking Detroit discount.

No kidding. I have a Red Wings fan living under my roof right now, and he couldn't wait to tell me what a genius Holland was for the Hossa and Conklin deals. I wanted to grab him by the neck and scream, "Of course, but nobody else got those cheap options!"

I'll be interested to see what Pronger gets his next UFA season. The elite pay scale might disappear since he won't have any comparables.

Yeah, that's two years away, but it would be interesting to see who's in the bidding and what they offer. Pronger's a smart cookie, though, and I'd guess he'd take a smaller offer on a better (warmer weather?) team.

Anyway, thanks for the discussion. It's fun.

Definitely, and any time. My head hurts a little now with all the salary-thinking (remember when this game used to be about hockey?), but it's always a good exercise getting educated. I was kind of surprised that I was getting this much feedback on what was essentially a picture-post, but that's the Burke-inflationary effect for ya.

And (no obligation, and no hurry), if you'd like to craft a response to Burke's bad cap landscape logic, I'd be happy to post it. We all could use an outside reality check from time to time. I'd even draw a Burkie cartoon for you.

Scott said...

Wow! That's an amazing offer. I'll definitely write something up in the next few days. Hopefully it will look something like what you're asking for. If not, feel no obligation to put it up. How would I get it to you?

Earl Sleek said...

earlsleek (at) gmail (dot) com

And if you want to spend longer than a few days, don't feel too rushed. We probably have until next summer to still care about Brian Burke :)

Nut said...

I think the point that Penner might eventually be a deal for Edmonton as he further develops proves Burkes point. He essentially skipped his "second contract" as Burke says, and shouldn't have made 4 mil until he proved he was a 70-80 point player.