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Peter Gunn

Canucks on Loan

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It would be difficult to make this happen because there are so many details that would need to be worked out, but the principle is very simple.

Imagine if the NHL had a "player-loan" system similar to that used in soccer. Obviously there could be many types of systems to use, but I'm intrigued by the notion or idea of a somewhat similar system in the NHL.

In its most simplistic terms it would go something like this:

An NHL team prior to the start of the regular season can, if they want, list or offer 1 or 2 players they're willing to loan out to another non-conference team for an entire season including playoffs.

I'll use the Canucks and Cody Hodgson prior to the start of last season as just 1 example:

The method used to obtain the loan player aside, because the Canucks are loaded at center and have no room for him to play that position and feel it would be of little benefit for him to play another season in the minors they end up loaning Cody to the Toronto Maple Leafs who desperately need help at center.

Cody starts on the third line, gets loads of ice-time and perhaps ends the season as the Leafs second or first line center with 20 goals and 30 assists - 50 points. The Leafs make the playoffs but are eliminated in the first round, Hodgson returns to Vancouver and re-joins the Canucks if they're involved in post-season play.

- He's helped the Leafs make the playoffs.

- Canucks get back a player they know more about with 1 years NHL experience and who could conceivably assist the Canucks in their play-off run.

Depending on the player and the teams involved, what I've mentioned here is just one of a thousand examples of what may happen, but I think teams would develop players more quickly, have a much better idea of what they have, the quality of play would improve and it would in my opinion create a lot more interest amongst the fans.

Leafs 4 - Canucks 3 - Hodgson 1 goal, 2 assists.

Boo-Yay!!!

One can go on and on about what would happen to the CAP, who should or should not be made available, it's effect on the minors and junior programs etc., but I'm having a whole lot of fun thinking about all the ramifications of a loan system but this post has gone on long enough except to say that Cody was used as just an example and should not be viewed as the point of this discussion.

PS - Many thanks to my soccer crazy son-in-law for selling me on the idea.

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Interesting thought! A person IMO who thinks outside the box. The problem I see is that what happens to the other teams prospects? Where do you put them if you have another team's prospect taking over that spot? Another problem is that every team has a system. Whats the point of sending another player to another team when they play a different system? That is why we have a farm team. Every training camp you have the farm team's coaching staff getting together with Av's coaching staff. Running systems with Veterans,prospects and Rookies, so everybody from the top to bottom are on the same page. So in a event a injuries ,a player can be called up from the farm without making any major adjustments.

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I have a couple of questions and/or observations which I hope you can address..

1.) That "sitting out" option could be the source of a pretty big problem. How would you explain to 30 NHL teams that some of their 29 competitors will have the option of sitting out one of their roster players who have been loaned to them for the season?

Let's say that the Canucks have a young prospect playing for them who is on loan from an eastern team. Work out your own scenario in which this prospect has bloomed under the Canucks system and is in the running for rookie of the year honors. It is near the end of the season and both the Canucks and this eastern team need every point in order to make the playoffs, or get first overall, or what-ever. The Canucks look like they will very likely win the upcoming contest in part because of this loan player.

And then the eastern team chooses to "sit out" their young phenom, and the Canucks lose, and because they didn't get those two points from that one game they failed to make the playoffs or get the President's Cup. It's only one game, right?

Further, the playoff restriction is too much. I suspect that a lot of GM's (the guys who are the borrowers) would not support this idea.

2.) How many players are we talking about per team being eligible for this program? Only one, yes? And indeed how will this affect the salary cap? You mention that they won't affect the cap that much, and yet the Canucks could not have floated an extra player a couple of years ago.

So, if the Canucks wanted to give Sauve a chance to play in Florida, they would have had to pay his NHL salary, which the Canucks couldn't do because they like to spend up near the cap. So they wouldn't do it, right? But then, which team would? I suspect very few would do such a thing. If Gillis has the choice of spending to the cap by paying an extra $900,000 to an NHL veteran UFA who will help the team now, or having to sign a lesser quality UFA because he has spent an extra $900,000 to send Sauve to help another team (and maybe the Canucks sometime in the future), which option do you think he would choose? And if Sauve did play very well, what kind of grief would that cause Gillis?

And what about the salary cap floor? If I am taking on one of your players, do I get some kind of cap relief? Should I get some kind of cap relief?

If I have your player and I no longer want him on my team, am I forced to keep him regardless, or can I return him to you? If I do return him to you, what does that do your cap situation, if anything? And if I do return him to you, what does that do to your roster limit, if anything? And if you want to move the player to the minors, does he have to go through the waivers process, or are you allowed to freely place him in the AHL? And if so, why?

Currently NHL teams can have 50 contracts total. Do these loan players count towards that total for the parent teams or the loan teams? Or should the NHL increase the number of contracts allowed or create some kind of special category?

I do not see this idea working due to this issue.

3.) What rights and responsibilities does each team have with regard to the player, the League and each other, and how will teams be able to get around the rules? What non-monetary contractual rights and responsibilities are there? What I've seen looks a bit dodgy.

I get to keep your player for the full season (with maybe the one game sitting out). What if you need him? Do you see any mechanism where a loan player could be returned to his parent team during the regular season? Would you have to "buy" your prospect from me with future considerations so I will agree to let him go? What if I do not agree to your offer? Might the League and NHLPA have to set up some kind of "buy-back" structure?

Am I required to keep your player even if I no longer want him on my team? What if he's a cancer in my dressing room? If I can't just give him back, and if I refuse to play him, can you force my team to give him ice time because we have a contract?

What if my team develops one of my players more than yours? I have two young players who surprised everyone at training camp by making the team, and you have a young player who plays the same position who is on loan to me. I give my guys 1st and 2nd line ice time. Can you force me to play your player more than one of mine? And what if I'm close to making the playoffs and I make a deal for a veteran who will play ahead of your guy?

What if a team decides they want to lose (to "fail for Nail") with about a third of the season left. They have your young phenom on loan, but he's playing far too well. The other team decides to give your young player limited 4th line minutes.. What do you do? What can you do?

What if your player receives a minor injury? If your doctor says he isn't ready to return (perhaps an honest medical opinion or because he is being paid by you to look after your team's best interest), while my medical staff say the player is ready to return (once again, maybe an honest medical opinion or because he is being paid by me to protect my team's best interest), which opinion takes precedence? I'm assuming that the safest thing for all concerned is that your medical opinion would be respected over mine, because nobody wants to get their butt sued in case something is missed. Now with this established, how often might a team screw over another team by forcing their loaned player to sit out for "medical" reasons. Why might they do this? If they had some kind of interest in where the loan team finished then it sould well happen (eg. a previous trade involving picks).

Conclusion:

I do not see any GM's wanting to risk any players of any quality to this system. Since the potential players being offered for loan would not necessarily be that much better than what is already in place, and there would be the potential for a whack of headaches by accepting the the loan player, why would any team want to take the offered loan player? Especially if you could just as easily develop your own talent?

But what completely kills this is that the loaning team has the ability to take away the prospect at the end of the regular season. There are perhaps several good reasons that they should be allowed to do so, but it just feels wrong.

regards,

G.

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