"Gettin' my six. Still waiting on your eight from Phoenix, hey?"

An arbitrator has ruled that the Vancouver Canucks owe Mark Messier six million dollars, because apparently they drew up a very complex contract when he signed with them in 1997.

When reading the original reporting from Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun, the first thing that jumped out to me was what Mark Messier was earning – his deal was for five years at six million per. Doesn’t that seem like an awful lot for 15 years ago? I suppose there wasn’t a salary cap then, but still, I don’t remember dollars like that being thrown around.

The Canucks bought Messier out after three seasons, as they had written in a provision that said they could do so for a flat two million dollars. Messier then went back to the Rangers where he finished his career.

So, that’s all fine and dandy – he got paid for those three seasons, got bought out, what’s the problem?

Apparently Mark Messier thought his celebrity was going to pack the building, so there was a clause that said the Canucks owed more money to the Moose if the value of the franchise increased over his tenure there (don’t most franchises do that over time?).

Well, apparently it did. Because of a change in ownership around that time, that extra money he was owed somehow got lost in the shuffle. But, when you’re owed six million dollars (well, Messier didn’t know exactly what he was owed – the arbitrator determined that), and you haven’t been drawing an NHL paycheck for awhile, you probably don’t forget too easily.

Knowing a six million dollar cheque is on its way would probably change your mood for the day, wouldn’t it? I just can’t fathom numbers like that.