The very instant the new CBA was ratified, NHL general managers and capologists began looking at ways to circumvent it.
The New York Islanders found one. Sitting just barely above the cap’s base floor of $44 million, Isles GM Garth Snow needed to “prop up” his look.
In Boston, GM Peter Chiarelli was already treading water at the $70.2 million threshold with $5 million in dead cap money sitting there against him in the form of goalie Tim Thomas, who is retired, but hasn’t said so officially, so his contract remains in force.
Officially, the Bruins had Thomas on suspension.
So what happens? Both the Bruins and Isles did each other a favor. Snow took Thomas off Chiarelli’s hands, forking over a conditional second-round draft pick in 2014 or 2015.
“Such an obvious cap move for the Islanders,” said one disgusted Board of Governor.
The Isles already have Rick DiPietro and Evgeni Nabokov. Yeah, let’s add Tim Thomas, too, just for show.
Which is all it was for – show on the books.
Deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly gave it his blessing because Thomas' contract was considered “active” since he had not filed retirement papers.
Thomas had no plans on playing this season anywhere, anyway.
“We have acquired an asset for our organization,” Snow announced proudly to reporters. “This acquisition allows us flexibility with our roster moving forward.”
Thomas’ deal ends after this season.
“We don’t win the Cup without him,” Chiarelli said during a conference call, recalling what the goalie meant to the Bruins.
“He was a character here. A terrific goalie with a great story. He had some interesting side stories that became distractions at times.
“I had to manage this stuff. But I can’t stray from the fact that this guy won two Vezina Trophies and a Conn Smythe. He was terrific when we won the Cup. Going back on the run we had with Tim, he was outstanding.
“Tim can be a character and he can also be principled in a lot of different things. He is/was a heck of a goaltender. I liken him sometimes to that left-handed pitcher that’s a little quirky, but wins a lot of games and throws 200 innings a year.”
Politically, Thomas embarrassed the organization with his far right-wing Republican outbursts and his snub of President Obama when the Bruins visited the White House last January after winning the Stanley Cup the previous season.
So where is Thomas’ head these days?
“He sounded like he was in a good spot,” Chiarelli said.
Vote of confidence
The Flyers and Buffalo Sabres shared a couple of things in common heading into the weekend.
Both were 4-6-1 on Friday, both were buried in the Eastern Conference standings and both had coaches who were getting full support from management.
Now in Buffalo, coach Lindy Ruff has the longest tenure of any coach in the NHL. Which may be one reason why general manager Darcy Regier is sticking behind him.
Regier says he is poised to make player changes, but told the Buffalo News, “it won’t be the coach.”
The only professional coach who has been at the job longer than Ruff is the NBA’s Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. Ruff was hired in the summer of 1997. Popovich, a year earlier.
Ruff told the paper he’s concerned about team morale.
“My job is to keep the morale up,” Ruff said. “The hope for the team has been real good. The guys have been positive. They’ve been upbeat. They dug in, tried to come back, tried to fight through the adversity.
“So you’ve got to give them credit for digging in but I understand the other side of it too. We need to win games. We need to win them now.”
Since Ruff’s hiring, there have been 170 coaching changes in the NHL. Over that entire time, only twice has a team won a Stanley Cup after making an in-season coaching change.
It happened last season when Darryl Sutter took over in Los Angeles and it happened in 2009 when Dan Bylsma took over in Pittsburgh.
Part of the Sabres’ problem is that Ryan Miller is again having a poor season with a 3.19 goals against average.
“It’s definitely not lost on us that we need to play better hockey,” Miller said. “But I don’t think now is the time to start panicking. It’s time to keep building.
“We have to climb out of a hole. We can’t dig ourselves deeper by talking about Lindy or us as players and how effective we’re being. We all can be effective.”
If you happen to be in Detroit and see someone walking around with a red and white hockey jersey bearing the name “Pasha” and the number “13,” chances are, it’s an unlicensed product.
Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk sued an Oak Park, Michigan man, alleging he was selling merchandise bearing Datsyuk’s name, number and likeness without his consent.
It was an entire clothing line, according to the Detroit News.
Datsyuk got a temporary restraining order against Pasha LLC, Pasha Sportwear and Terrance Sullivan. Pasha is Datsyuk's nickname.
In court this week, Oakland Circuit Judge Martha D. Anderson issued a preliminary injunction.
Datsyuk is seeking unspecified damages. Sullivan’s attorney, Kevin Stoops, said this has been in the works for five years and that both men are acquaintances.
“This is not a bootleg operation,” Stoops said. “[Datsyuk] obtained T-shirts and passed them out to friends and family in Russia. ... This has been a business relationship which unfortunately had to part — this happens every day.”
Datsyuk's attorney, Jordan Bolton, denied that.
“Whatever delusions [Sullivan] had, they should have been eliminated with the cease-and-desist communications we sent or by this lawsuit,” he said.
Mahesh Nayak, another of Datsyuk’s legal team added, “Pavel Datsyuk is more focused right now on playing hockey this season and bringing the Stanley Cup back to Detroit.
“But this is serious and we have to put a stop to it. This is confusing to his fans and damaging to him personally.”
There is even an "unauthorized Datsyuk Facebook page" on the Internet selling a T-shirt that reads "Moves like Datsyuk" — a takeoff on the popular song "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5.
Sullivan was ordered to turn over business records concerning sales of Datsyuk-related products to the court.
Associated Press, Boston Globe, Buffalo News, Detroit News, New York Daily News and Newsday contributed to this report.