The Carolina Hurricanes turned a lot of heads when they healthy scratched captain Rod Brind`Amour last night in Pittsburgh. According to John Forslund, several people on the team were upset, including Brind'Amour himself.
Forslund even said that he was a bit upset about it, when he chatted about the situation with Joe Ovies and Adam Gold this morning on 620 The Buzz.
Remember our story about "buckling up" Caniacs? This is one of those situations where there are no easy solutions and some fans will be upset no matter what happens.
The problem? You have a well respected and in some cases well loved captain who has given his all to the franchise while helping to lead them to a conference final last year, a Stanley Cup Final in 2002, and a Stanley Cup Championship in 2006.
But, the aging veteran has slowed more than a step, has the worse plus/minus in the league, and is scoring at less than half the pace of the worst season of his career.
Some people would like to compare this situation with that of Dave Andreychuk, when Tampa Bay cut loose the team captain and put him on waivers back in 2006, in affect forcing him into retirement. When Andreychuk cleared waivers, he decided to retire rather than to report to the minor leagues.
But while the big center had led his team to a Stanley Cup Championship just two years previous, the Brind'Amour situation is a bit different than that one.
The Lightning had signed Andreychuk as a free agent in 2001. He hadn't even been in the organization for four years before getting the ax. This will be the 10th season for Brind'Amour in Raleigh and he is much more of a fixture, on the team and in the community.
But this is a business first world and the Hurricanes have tangible problems to deal with. They are up against the salary cap, and Brind'Amour is a huge part of that equation. While he earns $3,000,000 this year and next, his cap hit is even higher, 3.6 million. (He earned a higher amount in previous years) For a player with minimal production who was getting fourth line minutes, this is an absurd amount.
And that does not take into account that his plus/minus, (-19) is the worst in the league. The previous Selke Award winner is now a defensive liability.
Chip Alexander asked Jim Rutherford about what the GM had planned, but Rutherford kept his cards closely guarded. "It's a tough time", the general manager said.
Brind'Amour reportedly has a no-trade clause, so this strategy could be used to make the captain soften his stance regarding a possible future trade. But one might wonder, who wants to trade for a player with horrid stats that is making the kind of money Brind'Amour is making?
Or maybe the next step is the waiver wire?
It looks like management will continue to scratch him for now, and they will see what happens. With the way the team has been going, it's just a matter of time before someone new gets injured and the captain will get another chance to crack the lineup anyway. But until then, that is one expensive healthy scratch.
No doubt the Canes would love to get his salary of the books, not only for the remainder of this year, but also for next. But how will they go about doing that and how will the team react?