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NHL Free Agency could take a page from the NBA



Photo: Tony Avelar (AP)

That's why the National Hockey League did not understand it. Erik Karlsson has just signed a record recording eight-year contract worth more than $ 11 million a year with the San Jose Sharks, no problem. Deal framed, spoken, signed. It could not be easier.

In other words, a golden opportunity missed.

The NBA has understood that nothing amuses the public as the drama of the movement of the players, not even the games. The games are only the vegetable; new contracts and trades, drama and roasting money in pursuit of these are what people are looking for. After all, only one team gets a parade; everyone is playing for July.

The Lakers exchanging for Anthony Davis, and the future of the New Orleans pelicans … the Houston Rockets in turmoil … the Kawhi-ness of everything … the rubble of the Golden State Warriors … the New York Knicks doing everything what they have from Knick they have not done anything and will never do anything … it's beer for the party.

And the NHL gives us quiet negotiations and an excellent player who stays with the team that he was already for the term and money that everyone thought they had. I mean, if you will not even try …

There are not many ways for the NHL to compete with the NBA in a crowded entertainment environment during the year. The game is great entertainment and it has a television contract that allows easy access to most teams (whether it's Capitals, Penguins or Rangers, NBC is going to have a hard time simulating enthusiasm for "your defending champion St Louis Blues"), but he can not do the off season. Even Drunken Brett Hull or the next Russian that the Florida Panthers sign and miss the playoffs can not save him.

If the NBA had created its environment by design, it would not be as captivating. The beauty of its off season lies in the organic nature of the naked trade in a setting in which the employee tells the employer how it will go. The NHL is an old-fashioned top management that, while being great for managers, is as entertaining as most managers. Erik Karlsson got a slightly better offer than Drew Doughty, who negotiated his own deal. If there is something more perfect to ease the third party negotiations, it is the absence of a third party. And by "third party" we are talking about noisy agents, noisy parents, general managers or experts. Of course, Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun are connected to the Woj level, but their next shout will be first, and the non-shouters are not playing in the new era.

The NBA? Only third parties, many, many speculative and noisy, because they all discovered the secret, namely: Air your dirty laundry and make sure you do not embarrass yourself. Not everything, you notice; you should always keep something in reserve for the next news cycle. But now that the nation is used to the drama of reality TV production and is moving on, the more real reality of the NBA is exactly what matters, and the quieter, more dignified and less friendly version of the superstars … well, that's Is everything. t.

And there is really not much to do in the end. Hockey players were trained not to stand out at the time of signing the contract. This is precisely the moment when basketball, both employers and employers, do their best work. Hockey season is all about guys doing shorts and sneakers (golf, grilling, throwing the Stanley Cup in a pool with beer: suburban stuff), then go to the rink to start over. the cycle. Basketball players have learned that the off-season is chasing after basketball, but that the money, the celebrity and the turmoil that reigns on the back of your banana boat can only contribute to the # 39; s supply. Even Leonard, who was rather reluctant than Karlsson, has mastered the rare art of mime out of season, in which his silence makes the noise more deafening. It is now an art of performance.

I mean, Karlsson got his, and the Sharks have theirs, and all the people involved are apparently happy, with the exception of the players who will be moved to make room for that salary. But it's at best a half-day story; in fact, the past sell date has already passed. The NBA season would delight us forever if the regular season was not there to ruin it.

Now, if you'll excuse us, we'll go back to the Toronto Raptors' victory parade to frantically evaluate Kawhi's body language and the signals he sends to the Los Angeles Clippers via this strategically raised eyebrow.


Ray Ratto thinks some sports leagues will learn to monetize hell over the next five years.


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