Clarke: No Niedermayer, JR is back
Courier PostFlyers likely to keep Roenick
Friday, July 15, 2005
Salary should fit into team's budget
By CHUCK GORMLEY
Flyers general manager Bob Clarke has two words for Jeremy Roenick, and you might be surprised what they are:
After reviewing every possible salary cap formula and each of his players' salaries for the 2005-06 season, Clarke has come to the determination that Roenick's $4.94 million contract will fit under what is expected to be a hard cap between $37 million and $39 million.
"We've gone through all of the numbers several times and if the cap is at the numbers we expect them to be, we'll be able to afford J.R.," Clarke said Thursday, one day after the NHL and its players agreed in principle to a six-year CBA.
Roenick, 35, spent most of the past year resting his mind and body after a grueling 2003-04 season left him with a surgically repaired jaw and a lingering concussion.
His mouth, however, did not take a vacation.
Roenick made national headlines earlier this month when he told fans who consider NHL players spoiled and selfish they could "kiss my (behind)" and not bother coming back when the league resumed play. He also angered fellow union members when he advocated a salary cap long before the players agreed to one.
His recent relationship with the Flyers has been strained as well. Last October, he fought for injury pay while he recovered from his concussion, saying the Flyers needed to recognize all he gave them during the 2004 playoffs. That prompted Clarke to say Roenick lacked a speed bump between his brain and his mouth.
In several television interviews since then Roenick has openly questioned whether the Flyers wanted him back for the 2005-06 season, the final year on his five-year contract. No one, including Flyers coach Ken Hitch****, seemed to know where or how Roenick fit into the Flyers' plans.
Now, we know.
"My attitude with J.R. is that I don't care what he says, I just care about how he plays," Hitch**** said Thursday. "Our players know who he is and how hard he competes.
"Sometimes I'd like to be forewarned about what he says, but the one thing about Jeremy is this: the guy competes like heck. I know one thing, it won't be dull."
When he last played for the Flyers, Roenick notched a career-low 19 goals and 28 assists in 62 games, missing 20 of the final 23 games of the regular season after being struck in the face by a shot.
While Roenick appears to be staying in Philadelphia, one of his closest friends appears to be leaving. Clarke said that with the new restrictions on salaries, teams will need to be wary of being top heavy with two or three star players and 18 muckers and grinders.
To alleviate that scenario, the Flyers are expected to buy out the contracts of forwards John LeClair (6.84 million) and Tony Amonte ($4.484 million). Amonte and Roenick attended high school together in Boston and were Chicago linemates.
The buyout figures for LeClair and Amonte would be two-thirds of their salaries, totaling $7,473,440.
That's a hefty price to pay, but Clarke said the Flyers are willing to eat those salaries so they can free up enough money to be active in the free agent market, which is expected to open some time in August.
High on the Flyers' list of needs are a pair of big, strong defensemen. Clarke said Marcus Ragnarsson and Mattias Timander will not be returning to the Flyers next season, but there is a chance Vladimir Malakhov, 36, will return if he decides to resume his career.
"Once the CBA is ratified, we'll see if he wants to come back," Clarke said. "We'll need some big bodies back there."
Clarke said that since the Flyers already will have mobile defensemen Eric Desjardins, Kim Johnsson, Joni Pitkanen and Dennis Seidenberg, they'll need a few bangers to complement the hard-hitting Danny Markov, whom they intend to resign.
That, Clarke said, means the Flyers will not be interested in signing unrestricted defenseman Scott Niedermayer away from the Devils. Instead, Clarke will try to lure Malakhov back to the Flyers and sign at least one other big defenseman.
That likely will not occur until teams start buying out big contract players. Among those who may be made available are Detroit's Derian Hatcher, Colorado's Rob Blake, Ottawa's Wade Redden or Zdeno Chara and Vancouver's Ed Jovanovski.