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Shot of Laughter

On Friday the 13th, the funniest guy in the Hurricane's dressing room signed a deal to remain with the team. Number 13 on the program, Ray "The Wizard" Whitney agreed to terms with the Canes on a contract that will pay him 3.55 million a year for the next 3 years. The dollar value of the deal is right where I predicted it would be, (between 3 to 4 million), and the length of it is probably at about the max that it should be. Ray was able to score a career high in points this past year and played in all but 1 game for the Canes. The only surprising thing about the deal was the speed at which it was completed. While Whitney said he wanted to stay here and Rutherford said he wanted Ray to stay, in the complicated world of professional sports contracts, agreements usually aren't finalized so quickly. Sometimes they aren't finalized at all because even the smallest things can't seem to be compromised upon. Props must be given to both Whitney and Rutherford because they both had a grasp of what fair market value was and weren't so greedy or hard-headed to try to squeeze the last dollar out of the other side. Ray was quoted in the paper as saying that it was the easiest contract he ever negotiated, because there was no negotiation. He didn't even need his agent on this one. Congratulations to Ray Whitney and good work Jim Rutherford!

Whitney is not alone in preferring not to leave Raleigh. More and more NHL players have found a liking to the area and have wanted to remain here. Some are even retiring here! Future Hall of Famer, Ron Francis would be tops on that list. Here is an ex-player who has made millions over a long and successful career and has the ability to live anywhere he wants to in the world, but chooses North Carolina to raise his family and spend his time. Ex-Hurricane and present Maple Leaf, Bates Battaglia bought a bar and lives here in the off season. Glen Wesley has said that he will retire here when the urge finally strikes him. Rod Brind'Amour, Bret Hedican, and other players have demanded no-trade clauses in their contracts because they love the area and don't want to uproot their families. The more NHL players that decide to call Raleigh home, the better it is for hockey lovers here. It's no accident that youth hockey in the area has exploded while the skill level has gone up each and every year since the Canes moved here. Also, if high level players love to play for Carolina, it's easier to make trades and have other highly touted players want to come, even if they have never lived here before. A great example of this was last year when Doug Weight and Mark Recchi both waived no-trade contracts to play here. A few years ago, that may have never happened. Of course having a winning team and winning the Cup last year helped to change perceptions around the league, but it also helps that Jim Rutherford and the rest of the organization seem to have a good reputation in dealing with and treating players fairly. Of course there are some players who might disagree, but I would say they are a rather small minority. Good job again Canes and now let's see something similar happen with Scott Walker!

Sugar Ray