The New York Islanders have reached the point where Anders Lee can speak with other teams about contracts, and the public opinion about Lee’s actions has become unreasonably negative since he’s doing what any smart player should do.
I’m a fan of living in logic and facts, and all too often sports fans lose sight of that – New York Islanders fans not excluded. So, before we start unreasonably blasting Anders Lee for seeking a fair-market-value contract, let’s consider the facts and reality before people get (more) emotional.
- The NHL has implemented an open one-week free agent interview period for all players and teams to meet and discuss terms.
- Anders Lee is expected to utilize this opportunity that he is entitled to.
- Anders Lee has not received a contract he has felt is commensurate with his resumé or comparative player deals (or he would have signed it).
- We as fans have no idea what has been offered, what has been rejected or what conversations have been had between Lee, his agent, Lou Lamoriello and the Isles full management team.
- NHL players have a limited number of years to maximize their earnings before age and injury intervene.
- Anders Lee has 102 goals in the last three seasons, good for 13th in the NHL over that period.
- Jeff Skinner just signed an eight-year contract with a $9 million AAV. Jeff Skinner has one fewer goal over the past three seasons than Anders Lee (and only ten more total points over that span). Skinner is also just under two years younger than Lee.
- James van Riemsdyk signed a five-year contract with a seven-million-dollar AAV last year. Over the past three seasons, JVR has ten fewer goals and one fewer point than Lee. If you look just at the two seasons prior to JVR signing his deal with Philly (he played only 40 games the year prior or I would have added that), Lee had nine more goals and two fewer points than JVR. He was the same age as Lee when he signed that deal.
- Anders Lee is not the same person nor in the same situation as John Tavares.
Anders Lee is doing what he should be doing at this juncture. He is a player still in his prime, with a proven track record of finding the back of the net and providing leadership. He should be paid accordingly.
Let me put it this way. Imagine you work in an office (you probably do, so no stretch), and for the past year your boss has been telling you that a raise would get done and to just focus on your job, so you loyally do. He even gives you a better title, but no financial bonus for the additional responsibility.
You put your head down, you oversee your department as a senior manager and you lead the department to one of the most financially successful years it has had in decades. Your personal numbers were good but not as strong as usual, but you prioritized the department’s success over your own.
Then, as the year ends and you meet to discuss your raise, you are offered a new salary and contract that is less valuable than managers who had less successful departments. At that point, you meet with the union rep and they tell you to speak with five other companies who are interested in you at a job fair next week.
Your company is fully aware of this, and, in fact, they too are taking meetings with other managers from other companies at their job fair booth.
You don’t like the idea of it as you have always worked at and love your company, but your job is one that is soon to be taken over by younger talent who is more tech-savvy, so you need to maximize your earnings while you are in high demand.
You, just like Anders Lee, would be downright stupid not to take the meetings. It is your card-carrying union member right to do so, and you know exactly what the going rate is.
Should Lee get a Skinner deal? No, mostly because he’s two years older. But he would be foolish not to expect something between JVR and Skinner.
So, fans, please step down off of your pedestal and look at this logically. Bashing Lee who has been nothing but a solid player and class act on and off the ice for the Islanders is just unreasonable and irrational.
He may very well re-sign with the Isles, but questioning his leadership because he’s not willing to take less money or years out of some sort of loyalty is a naive fantasy.
Lee is the Isles captain, and if he took a lower value or term contract he would be a fool. I want smart players wearing the C, not fools who get steamrolled by executives. I’m fully behind Lee no matter what happens, and while I would hate to see him on another team, in no way would I hate or judge him for it. And nor should you.