Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Is Another NHL Team Tampering with Pavelec?

Let me begin by saying this is pure speculation.

Recently, Don Waddell said that he was offered two good players for Pavelec in a trade and turned it down. Yesterday, Pavelec was told to report to Chicago and immediately his agent went to the press making charges and insisting his players would not return to the AHL. The speed with which this was leaked to the press hints that it may have been pre-planned by the agent.

Let's think about this for a moment. What motivations might explain this chain of events?
A) The player pushed this option. I'm sure Ondrej Pavelec wants to play in the NHL, however, from what I have learned about the player I'm skeptical that this was his idea.

B) The agent pushed this option. The agent has a significant financial motivation to see his client play in the NHL instead of the AHL. Typically a player like Pavelec will make something like $50,000 in the AHL but close to $1,000,000 in the NHL. If the agent gets a 5% cut he stands to receive a commission of nearly $50,000 if Pavelec spends the year in the NHL instead of the minors.

C) Another team provoked this option. This one concerns me the most. We know another team made a serious offer for Pavelec recently. That suggests that Team X really want him and perhaps they think they could use him immediately. What if Team X were to have a conversation with Pavelec's agent and casually mention "you know we made what we consider to be a very fair offer for Pavelec to the Thrashers. It's too bad they didn't accept our offer because he will be stuck behind Lehtonen and Hedberg for the next two years."

Now Team X doesn't have to come right and explicitly suggest that they have Pavelec refuse to report to the AHL or even demand a trade but implying that there is a market for a trade provides additional motivation for an agent not only to make the demand but GO PUBLIC QUICKLY with such a demand.

Another club might desire to incite Pavelec's agent to push Atlanta. After all if the player and agent come forward with public demands, that might force Atlanta's hand. Furthermore, if the player has a reputation as "troublemaker" or if it is perceived that Atlanta is having a "fire sale" then the club that was seeking him might be able to get him for a lesser price than under normal circumstances.

Now tampering is illegal and the NHL can punish any club caught doing something like this, but it is VERY difficult to prove. Let's say you could get phone records and prove that Team X talked to Agent Y--you still can't prove that they discussed Pavelec unless one of the participants were willing to testify to that fact or taped the phone conversation.

Again, I have no proof that anything of this nature happened, but the circumstantial evidence causes me to be concerned. Sadly the NHL has a history of stronger franchises trying to bully franchises that are perceived to be vulnerable. For example, years ago the NY Rangers signed Joe Sakic to a huge offer sheet because they thought the owners of the Avalanche might not be able to pay the salary. Also the Philadelphia Flyers signed Chris Gratton to a big offer sheet because they viewed that franchise as weak.

Is is possible that another NHL team sees Atlanta as vulnerable with their ownership mess and a GM that is probably on thin ice? Is it possible that they think a hold out could force the Thrashers hand? I think the answer to both of those question has to be, "yes, it is possible." Is it possible that another NHL club thinks it can get away with tampering, again I think the answer is likely "yes, it is possible" and that's a real problem for both the Thrashers and the integrity of the NHL.


  • Let-em-in's lackadaisical effort makes me want to solve this problem by sending him to Chicago, and taking a chance on Pavelec. If a team took Kari off our hands we'd be guaranteed at least one win this year, given that we now play every team!!

    By Anonymous Michael Burke, at 2:58 AM  

  • Falconer I hadn't thought about tampering. I see your point but I'm just not feeling it. My overall impression is two things are at play - pride and money. I think Pavs and/or his agent have over-inflated his ego. He feels being an AHL goalie is beneath him. And/or he wants more money/the agent wants more money. As you pointed out, that's the biggest difference between the AHL and the NHL.

    Honestly I wonder if any NHL team is going to want this kid - not reporting like that is major PR damage league-wide. We've seen teams let go of talented prima donnas before. Not the brightest move - especially since Waddell holds all the cards here for Pavs' NHL career. He can trade him or not and we still own his rights for a loooonnngggg time.

    Sad thing is, this kid would likely have been up with the team next season - either as a back-up to Kari or possibly even as the starter. And now he's virtually thrown it all away.

    By Anonymous Sara, at 8:15 AM  

  • Make Pavelec the starter and trade Lehtonen. You hate to give in to a player like this, but Kari is going to get expensive next year and would bring more in trade than Hedberg. This team is young and realistically is building for the future. Throw Pavelec out there and let him take his lumps and learn on the job. Going to the AHL isn't going to help him that much anymore. LA and maybe Ottawa have a possible need in goal. I don't think getting a Vermette, O' Sullivan, or Ladislav Nady back for Lehtonen(with maybe some other minor players involved on both sides) would be too bad. This team needs some offensive skill players. If it can finally cut the cord with Exelby, the defense would be fine, and Pavelec and Hedberg are capable goalies.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:51 AM  

  • Logically, your theory is the only thing that makes sense. Otherwise, he has burned his bridge here and made himself look like a high-maintenance, unproven jerk to the rest of the league.

    The fact that Kari is a #2 overall pick has doomed us to stay with him way too long. I think we've already seen everything from him, and he is no franchise caliber goalie. Unfortunately, there is no way we are going to dump him and go with Pavelec.

    By Blogger Mike, at 7:51 PM  

  • This isn't the first guy to suggest that he won't report to the minors and he won't be the last. If the GM of the team comments publicly about receiving an offer for Pavelec, then the agent doesn't need to do any dirty work to figure out there is a market for his client at the NHL level. Still, this seems like a bad move for Pavelec since the inevitable result will be a suspension without pay. Things may change if one of the goalies get hurt, but for right now, there's absolutely nothing forcing the team to make a move.

    By Blogger Scott, at 8:20 PM  

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