The highly anticipated news about Bret Hedican's condition was reported in the News and Observer this morning. Apparently, the report about his health and possibility of playing next fall was "not totally positive or totally negative", whatever that means. Jim Rutherford was quoted as saying "I don't want Bret to be pressured into making a decision. He's been with us too long and has been good for us. I don't want to put a timeline on it, but obviously a decision by July 1st would make it easier for us to do our business." Ain't that the truth! This is pretty much what I expected to happen. Rutherford also said that they will re-visit this again during the last week of June. Does he honestly expect anything new to be determined in 2 weeks? I predict the following scenario plays out. Come July 1st, Hedican will report that he's making progress with his rehabilitation and expects to show up at training camp ready to play, thus handcuffing Rutherford's ability to make any changes to our mediocre blueline. Wonderful.
I can see two sides to this coin. One side agrees with Rutherford, that Hedican has been a warrior for the Canes for a long time, helping them win the Prince of Wales trophy twice as well as the Stanley Cup. He should be given the benefit of the doubt about his ability to play and given every opportunity, even if it ends up being a deteriment to the team. On the flipside, Hedican was almost useless last year. He missed 32 games altogether, and when he did play he was as immobile as he has ever been. He finished with a "-8" and zero goals scored for the year. Quite frankly, the Canes can't afford a repeat performance this coming year. He also makes more money than any other defenseman at 2.4 million dollars. This is money that could be well spent on a healthier, more productive player.
The bottom line? Bret Hedican is a fierce competitor, a warrior. In my opinion, if anyone thinks he will give up on his career even if there is just a slight chance of him getting healthy enough to get out on the ice again, they are mistaken. He will continue to fight hard to play again. There is also the issue of the 2.4 million on the table. Most people are not going to walk away from that and receive pennies on the dollar in retirement unless they have to. That's not a slam against Hedican, that's just human nature. Given that the report "is not totally negative or totally positive" tells me that he is certainly not 100% healthy and his future status is up in the air. From the Cane's perspective, I wouldn't be happy about having to tie up 2.4 million in salary for a player who is definitely not 100% healthy, without any certainty that he will ever be 100% healthy again. But their only recourse is to buy Bret out if he wants to play. The rules state that the buy-out has to be 2/3rds of the contract amount, about 1.6 million. I doubt the Canes will do that. There is also the intangible factor of Bret's temper and affect in the dressingroom. After last year's fist fight with Kevyn Adams, the coaching staff and management seemed to side with Bret and shipped Kevyn off to Phoenix. Could this have rubbed some of the players the wrong way? It takes two to tango, and I doubt that the fight was 100% Adam's fault. Anyway, my money says that Hedican will be back in camp to give it another go, and we'll have to see what happens after that! TGIF