Saturday, August 06, 2005

Confused? You're Not Alone

By Nick Faris
Red Line Corp. Writer

We are currently a week into the free agent market. There have been marquee signings, marquee trades, and enormous criticism of marquee signings and trades. However, none of these important transactions have been the most confusing thing I've seen this short month.

That would go to Tie Domi.

The enforcer from Windsor, Ont. was awarded a two-year contract by Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. The confounding thing about it to me, and several other hockey fans was the money involved.

Domi will receive upwards of $1 million per season, with his new $2.5 million contract (over two seasons). Why would the Leafs give this to an aging goon who will spend over 3 games, in retrospect, in the penalty box this season? Domi is fast approaching his 36th birthday, and with the Leafs lacking cap space to add another key name to their roster, this move is surprising.

Don't get me wrong - I would have been even more surprised had the Leafs not made an offer like this. In fact, he was offered more by Pittsburgh ($4.5 million over three years). However, the Leafs are not lacking toughness (and hard-headedness), with cheap-shots Wade Belak and Nathan Perrott. Both are under 30 and can be just as effective as Domi (meaning as a body in the sin bin). Both are unsigned (restricted FAs) and I'm sure once the duo are signed, both will have a salary under $1.25 million per season.

If the Leafs would forget about needing a player who will cost them over $1 million (in a salary cap era) to start fights from the penalty box, than perhaps a certain silver cup would find its way to Leaf Nation. Without Domi, another skilled player could be added easier. That player could produce without having to sit down as often, and could be a key addition to a Leafs cup run. They would still have Belak and Perrott (barring suspension, of course) under contract and in the box. But don't expect Toronto to realize this.

Don't expect Domi to do much more on the ice with his new, signed self than the above-mentioned box-sitting and hitting the crossbar on empty nets. Oh, and of course cheap-shotting players in the jaw who have a full face-mask (Domi vs Shaun Van Allen). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Domi skip on-ice training and simply sit down in the bin and watch his teammates prepare to suffer for management's mistakes.

That won't happen, of course. But if I saw it, I wouldn't be confused.

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