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Cold Hard Rants

Using the Flames to Burn a Contract

I am amazed that in this world of instant information and constant communication be it through Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry Messenger or text messaging no one, anywhere, is talking about the fact that the NHL has granted a tremendous competitive advantage to the Calgary Flames by permitting them to play all of their games on home ice this coming season. How else to explain the fact that new coach Brent Sutter violated the terms of his contract to coach the New Jersey Devils for one more season because he wanted to spend more time at “home” and with his family?

We have been hearing this a lot lately in sports. The desire to leave one team, often even while under contract to go to another team, in a specific market, because it is closer to home and to family. Personally, I am sick and tired about hearing about this nonsense. When a player, or in this instance, a coach signs a contract with a club, they should be obligated to stick with that club for the duration of the contract. Nowhere else in society are employees permitted the type of freedom and ability to break binding contracts as they are in the world of professional sport. Can you imagine if you tried to pull these shenanigans in your workplace? You would be out on your ass so quick you wouldn’t have time to gather up the picture of your family that theoretically adorns your desk.

I don’t doubt Brent Sutter’s sincerity when he says he wants to spend more time with his family. I am sure being out there in New Jersey was very difficult for him, with all his twelve hundred siblings and wife and kids in Red Deer and surrounding areas. I also don’t think that missing his family was a brand new revelation, one he could not have predicted prior to signing on for three years with the New Jersey Devils. Anyone with a little bit of foresight should have seen this coming (in fact people began to predict this scenario unfolding early this past season), and if Brent Sutter had been truthful and honest with the New Jersey Devils from the outset he would have only signed a one year contract. Of course, he didn’t, because like everyone else in life he wanted the job security that comes with a binding contract. Had he been fired prior to exhausting his contract, I guarantee you he would have demanded the salary he had expected to come to him.

It is beyond me why athletes/coaches in professional sports are granted this latitude to freely break contracts, when no one else is availed the same opportunity. If there is any karma in sports, the New Jersey Devils, led now by Jacques Lemaire who returns to the Devils after his mutually agreed upon departure from the Minnesota Wild, will do better than the Calgary Flames this coming season. Why do I think that this would be fair karma wise? Because I am fairly certain the soldiers serving overseas would too rather be closer to their families.      

For Illegal Curve, I am Drew Mindell.

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