“He has earned that right”

We hear that all the time when a veteran player makes a controversial decision or request. The longer a player has been in the league, the more rights he is entitled to. We have heard it a lot this week in regards to Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne. When they politely declined their invitation to the All Star game, some people were angry while others felt with the NUMEROUS years of service they have provided the league it was OK for them to say “no thank you”.

When I hear “he has earned that right”, sometimes I agree, other times I don’t, and there are a few times where I sit on the fence. Let’s go through some of those times:

1) Declining All Star invitation

Can someone “Earn That Right”? : Yes

Lidstrom has appeared in 11 All-Star Games, while Teemu has played in 10. You can’t say that these two players haven’t represented the league in the past. While I was surprised that they decided not to attend (seeing as this could possibly be the last year for both of them), I do believe they have earned the right to do so. We are talking about two 41-year olds here, a few days off would be a big help in gearing up for the second half.

2) Debating retirement

Can someone “Earn That Right”? : Kind of

In the 2007-08 season we saw both Selanne and Scott Niedermayer do this to the Ducks. They spend the off season, training camp and first chuck of the season saying the same thing….”I haven’t decided yet”. I believe to a certain extent they have earned the right to ponder their decision, but when it goes as far as  the mid-way point of the season then it’s gone too far. Coaches and players need to plan out the season and it’s tough doing so when they have no idea if/when a significant player will return.

3) Asking to be traded to a contender

Can someone “Earn That Right”? : No

I’ve never been a fan of this one, especially when said player is on a team he has spent a number of years with. Let me get something striaght, if they have some sort of clause in their contract that says that they can veto or choose where to be moved, then all the power to them. However, if a veteran just wants one last shot at a ring and expects the team to make a deal that is not benficial to the franchise, then I am not in favour of it.

4) Refusing to waive a no-trade clause

Can someone “Earn That Right”? : YES

Before I get to my explanation of this one, let me say this: I believe players should earn “No Trade Clauses”. They are given out far too easily. I would really like to see a clause in the CBA that states someone has to play X amount of games or years in the league before that can have a No Trade Clause in their contract. That being said, if a veteran decides not to waive his clause, I have no problems with it. Back in 2008, Mats Sundin did just that in Toronto and there were many Leaf fans who thought he was being selfish. He was a veteran of the league and the Leafs organization and I believe he earned the right.

5) Declining to attend World Hockey Championships

Can someone “Earn That Right”? : Yes*

This one has an asterisk because I believe a player has earned that right if he has represented his country at the World Championships at least once in the past. If a veteran has done that, and wants to get some rest in the off season, I think its fine to decline an invite. Plus, we can’t forget  when the WC take place…right after a player either missed the playoffs (heartbreaking), or just got bumped in  the first round (even more heart breaking).

Got any more? Comment or tweet me @robpizzo

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Let’s head to the Links

It has been a LONG time since the Red Wings last lost a game at The Joe (Pro Hockey Talk)

Speaking of the Red Wings they chased Ryan Miller from the net last night in the 2nd period after he allowed 5 goals. After the game, he was not too happy (Puck Daddy)

Will NHL Players participate in the Olympics in 2014? Helene Elliott thinks they should (LA Times)

I wonder if Brendan Shanahan gets Overtime Pay? (NHL)

Jonathan Quick….nose bleed…..anthems…..just read it (Kings Insider)

Ken Campbell of the Hockey News says that Steve Yzerman has to fix the Lightning’s goaltending problems

So Jake Gardiner is back with the Leafs for a while, or not…or….I have no idea (Pension Plan Puppets)

The Rangers have lost 2 of 3…and have a tough road ahead (Blueshirt Banter)

and in case you missed Detroit’s franchise record 15th straight home win, here are the highlights

Comments (8)

  1. I agree that players can earn the right to decline the All Star game. I think it’s more important to act in the best interest of your team before promoting the league. Also I think having new faces at the game can’t be a bad thing. Seeing the same guys at the game year after year winning the same skill competitions every year contributes to the stale feel of the NHL All Star game.

    I don’t see the problem with asking to being traded to a contender though. These types of trades often give the team draft picks or good prospects in exchange for an aging veteran. Sure if the trade doesn’t help the team giving up the player then it’s a bad move but I don’t know how often that happens.

  2. Just a note that the CBA already has a clause stating that you aren’t entitled to a NTC/NMC in your contract until you have played 7 years in the league/reach age 27, whichever comes first. It’s why both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter’s NTCs start next season, and why Paul Holmgren could still trade them last summer.

  3. Do you think that Ray Bourque hadn’t earned the right to request to be traded at the end of his career to a contender? He played in Boston for 20 seasons and was as loyal as a player can be to the organization that raised them up. He couldn’t deliver the cup by himself and the Bruins were unable to build a contender around him. Boston got some very productive years out of Brian Rolston as part of that deal.

  4. Matt- Agree with fresh faces at the game. Not a fan of EVERY team needs to be represented though. Especially when a player says no. Case in point with the Ducks. Teemu said no, so they send Perry who is NOT an All Star this season because they need a Duck.

    Caroline- I stand corrected, I wasn’t aware of that clause. However, I still think that number should be bigger

    Rich- Bruins were unable to build a contender around Bourque??? Was this before or after they went to TWO Stanley Cup finals with him

  5. Pizzo, just a few comments on your points:

    1) In this respect, I think Selanne and Lidstrom also understand the notion of passing the torch. They both know that there are several young stars out there who deserve to play in the all-star game and those players might be excited to do so. While it would still be an honour for these guys to play, I think they understand that the All-Star Game should feature some of the younger talent in the league.

    2) I think this is a definite yes, however the stipulations on who gets this right must be stringent. For instance, Lidstrom, Selanne, Niedermayer earned the right; Chris Pronger has earned that right; other guys such as Iginla and Saku Koivu have earned that right: they poured blood, sweat, and tears into a franchise and deserve the right to decide if they are going to come back.
    Listen, training camp isn’t going to do a thing for these guys. They are going to stay in the best shape they can during the off-season. They will know closer to the season whether or not their bodies and minds can handle another season. Remember, it is not just the player being affected, it is their family (one of the main reason Lidstrom stayed in Detroit was because one of his children is still in high school).

    3) I am actually on the maybe pile for this one. What if Iginla is 36 years old, playing in one of his last two seasons and the Flames decide in December that a rebuild is necessary? Does he not have a right, with a No Movement Clause, to approach the GM and say “Listen, I’ve given you everything and all I want is a Cup. Trade me to one of these 4 teams if you can get a decent deal”.

    Forcing a trade is different. Privately asking is acceptable depending on context.

    4) 180% yes. It’s a clause in their contract. The GM or former GM that put the clause in the contract is the one to blame. On another note, I don’t think NTC and NMC should exist. I believe there should be Restricted movement clauses where a player can submit a list of 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, or 14 teams they would agree to be traded to but having a no movement or no trade is dumb.

    5) I think I agree completely. Ryan Smyth has the right to refuse attending the World Championships.

    Pizzo, keep up the good work.

  6. The All-Snore Game is a no brainer for me. I wouldn’t blame even a first time All-Star for not wanting to go. Look back to last year, the Leafs (or whoever) needed to choose a representative for the ASG and when they picked Kessel, everyone said it should ahve been Grabovski who was having a better year to that point. One of the arguments made in favour of the decision was that Grabovski just had a newborn child and he wanted to spend time with his girlfriend and kid so the Leafs (or whoever) picked Kessel to allow him that grace.

    I can think of a whole number of circumstances where, if I were a player, I’d want that break to spend time with family or friends rather than play in the All-Star Game.

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