Both sides need to be less demanding
As fans we like to pick one side or the other and feel the opposite side is unjustified. Really, we do that as humans.
Just look at anything from sports to politics to clothing or video games. We pick our side and the other is the enemy.
The truth in this matter is that both sides are being somewhat stubborn about things that most don’t understand.
For example, the Blues last reported offer was an AAV (average annual value) of $7.7 million. If we believe the reports, the Blues told Pietrangelo he has to agree to the AAV before they will even discuss any of the more detailed parameters of the contract.
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That sounds fine to those of us working hourly wages, but even if you’re making millions, you don’t know what you’re signing up for.
Conversely, Pietrangelo is apparently asking for things that Doug Armstrong has never given out. One such thing is a no movement clause.
The Blues have given out several no trade clauses under Armstrong, but the differences are subtle. Boiled down to its simplest form, a no movement clause gives a player all the power.
In a no trade clause, often a list of acceptable teams or unacceptable teams is provided and the team still has the freedom to waive a player or send them to the minors. In a no movement clause, you lose all freedom.
So, for example, if Petro got a no movement and started spiraling downward at age 34, the Blues are stuck. They cannot attempt to put him through waivers, send him to the minors or attempt to trade him without his permission. If you reach that stage, you’re unlikely to get permission because the player will know they are devalued and want to hang on to their contract.
Armstrong has never given one of those out and I see no reason to now. No trade clauses are tricky enough, but to lose all your freedom in the possibility that a player is no longer effective is not smart.
Additionally, Pietrangelo actually wants a bounus-heavy contracts. Not long ago, I wrote about how this could benefit the Blues.
Perhaps this is the area that the Blues need to give a little. However, that is up to Tom Stillman more than Armstrong.
The benefit of having bonuses built in is that it keeps the AAV down, while giving the player a higher total, usually at the start of the contract while they are at their most productive. The drawback is it becomes much more cost prohibitive to buy anyone out.
On top of the penalties you would pay in a buyout situation, bonuses are guaranteed for that year. For example, a signing bonus is paid out on July 1 (the normal beginning of a new NHL year).
So, if you’ve paid out $5 million of an AAV of $6.5, you’re not saving much with a buyout since you technically already paid. Often, this is used as a deterrent for buyouts. While I used the Duncan Keith example as a positive, his bonus-heavy contract may also be a reason the team has not bought him out.
In the end, this just is not a simple equation. The Blues cannot just spend crazily with no thought to the future. We can talk about championship windows closing, but you may not open another one for decades if you make the wrong deal.
Conversely, the Blues are not trying to be cheap. If the salary cap had gone up as predicted, there should be little doubt that the contract would have been finished long before now. However, we are living in different times.
We shouldn’t put our blind faith 100% behind one side or the other. Each has justifications for how they are acting and what they want.
Pietrangelo is not a player the Blues would wither away and die without, but he is also someone who should retire with this team if afforded the chance. Pietrangelo is not a player the Blues should break the bank for, but he has earned a big contract and the Blues have rewarded lesser players with more than they should earn in the past. Hopefully they find a way to meet in the middle.