The Carolina Hurricanes most recent free agent signings each have something to prove. Nathan Gerbe and Mike Komisarek were both bought out by their previous teams.
Gerbe, who was set to make $1.85 million this season, said in a recent interview in the News and Observer that he was surprised at the buyout.
"I was a little shocked that happened," Gerbe said. "Then it becomes something that drives you to work harder. I want to prove everyone wrong, and especially prove it to one team up North."
Komisarek might not have been as surprised about his buyout. The defenseman was put on waivers last season by Toronto, and there were no takers. But he still wants to show that the Leafs made a mistake.
This quote, also provided by the News and Observer:
"With that being said, you don’t complain, you don’t whine. ... It just didn’t work out. Right now I’m excited for the opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong and having that fresh start."
These two players, each of them looking to prove people wrong, bring back memories of a couple of other players that the Hurricanes signed during the summer of 2005.
At that time, there was a brand new CBA as well as salary cap and many teams were struggling to keep under it. Several players were bought out, much like what is happening now, and even more players were forced into huge pay cuts, as they were hoping for a team to have room for them.
In the season before the lockout, Ray Whitney suffered through a couple of injuries and did not live up to expectations in Detroit. The Red Wings bought the winger out that summer and the Hurricanes signed him to a much lower contract than he signed in Detroit, a $1.5 million, two-year deal, (total of $3 million).
Cory Stillman was scoring at a point-a-game clip for Tampa Bay, but never got offered a contract to return to the Stanley Cup Championship team. After making nearly double the amount in the previous season, the Hurricanes signed him to a three-year contract which paid him $1.75 million per year. When asked why he came to Carolina, Stillman responded that no other team made him an offer.
After a couple of injury plagued seasons in Florida and Anaheim, Matt Cullen was looked upon by many as being a lower-tier player, if even a borderline NHL'er. The Hurricanes signed him for a paltry $668,000 in the summer of 2004, so the center had plenty to prove when he came to camp after the lockout.
Experts were unimpressed with these signings and the Hurricanes were not looked upon to do much that season.
With perhaps extra incentive and motivation, Whitney, Stillman, and Cullen responded with huge seasons for the Hurricanes in 2005-06. Can Gerbe and Komisarek do the same?
With the drastic lowering of the salary cap this season, teams and players are finding themselves in a similar situation this summer. Can the Hurricanes find anymore bargains?