After months of speculation the Flyers have pulled a dramatic upset to win the away team bid for the 2010 Winter Classic over the Washington Capitals. It couldn’t have happened though without quite a bit of help. In this storyBettman’s plans to have Ovechkin on the biggest hockey stage of the modern NHL outside of the Stanley Cup Finals were foiled by NBC is spectacular deus ex machina fashion. The Flyers on the other hand, who were holding out to host their own Winter Classic in the near future, got to have their cake and eat it too thanks to the push for higher ratings.
When a Conn Smythe Winner and 90 point forward signs a long term contract with an organization you can expect much of the NHL to take notice. In Zetterberg’s case the rest of the organizations and players around the league may have taken a particular interest in the salary provided to the Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup quality center. It’s not every day that a true NHL superstar signs a “lifetime” deal, and this one will take the Champion well into his 17th season with the club. The cost of Zetterberg for 12 more seasons though isn’t quite the cost that many would have expected Wings General Manager, Ken Holland, to be forced to fork over. Many expected a high salary hit for such a valuable player. Instead Henrik’s frontloaded contract carries a cap hit of $6.08m a year, something very managable for the most dominant organization of the last decade and a half. So what is it that we can assume from such a bargain deal for one of the NHL’s best forwards? Is this the prime example of the fabled “home-town discount” that players will take in order to stay wih an organization, or is this an ominous sign for those seeking fortunes on the free agent market over the next couple of seasons?