The (very very obvious but somehow unspoken) Thing About Aho

Which way to THE STARBUCKS?!! *asks genuinely*

Hockey writers tend to exist in a deep hockey bubble.

This is not to insult, or deride. Hockey twitter loves hockey. That’s a beautiful thing. It is however, an inarguable and visibly true thing. Hockey writers live deep in a deep, deep bubble.

One anecdotal example of the hockey bubble: during a TSN Overdrive segment during this season, a genuine, real topic of conversation was “who is a more exciting athlete, LeBron James or Mitch Marner”. The conversation, a chat that even the most diehard Leaf fans would think batshit insane, featured such fair and unbiased two-sport personalities as ex-Maple Leaf Jeff O’Neil and Jaime MacLennan aka Noodles the Goalie.

Let’s be clear: it’s Bron. On a worldwide scale, the Venn diagram between “people who have seen both Mitch Marner and LeBron James play their sport” and “people who would honestly say Mitch is more exciting” is a microscopic sliver of a half moon, comprised exclusively of Caucasians who live in Oro-Medante, Ontario. LeBron James — the four-time NBA MVP, three time NBA Finals MVP, three-time NBA Champion and star of the upcoming Warner Brothers film Space Jam 2, is by any definition a more exciting athlete than the Toronto Maple Leafs’ best winger. It’s a silly question.

Of course, the panel was unanimous: Mitch Marner is the more exciting athlete. THAN LEBRON JAMES.

The hockey bubble is deep, and it can be absolutely impenetrable. It can make you, the rational sports fan, throw your hands up in the air and laugh in disbelief and yell the words ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS at your television set or phone. This is why it’s so frustrating to me that *nobody* has mentioned the obvious and clear thing happening on the Sebastian Aho front.

Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon lost seventy million dollars already this year (on an ill-fated secondary American Football league, dubbed the AAF). He’s not gonna want to pay one single hockey player $20M over the next 365 days. Period, end of story.

For the uninitiated, let’s go backwards: the Montreal Canadiens have offered the Carolina Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho an “offer sheet”; a tool that NHL teams can use to lure restricted free agents away from the other 30 teams in the National Hockey League. When a player signs an offer sheet, their incumbent team has a week to match the offer and keep the player, or lose the player for a league-mandated compensation package (consisting of draft picks). As the dollar amount of the offer increases, the amount of draft picks gained in compensation increases.

Sebastien Aho has signed the offer sheet, indicating his desire to play in Montreal. The offer is a five-year deal worth a total of US$42.25 million with an $8.45 million annual salary-cap number. But (and this is massively crucial) the majority of the money would come in signing bonuses, the first of which being due 5 days after the contract is official. The offer includes an $11.3-million signing bonus in Year 1, a $9.87 million bonus in Year 2, a $6.95 million bonus in Year 3 and a $5.25 million bonus in Years 4 and 5.

Thanks, TSN! Plz hire me!

(Incidentally, this $8-and-a-half M per year contract would make Aho an underpaid NBA player, below the “mid-level exception”. Get your kid on the court. It costs 0 to play. Neither here nor there).

Once again, please allow me to loudly yell the thesis of this article: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon lost SEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS in 2019 (on an ill-fated secondary American Football league, dubbed the AAF). Carolina’s owner is 7-0 M-I-L-L-I-O-N D-O-L-L-A-R-S poorer than he was in 2018, simply by virtue of being a professional sports owner this year. He’s not going to want to pay a single hockey player $20M in the next 365 days, $11M of which being due by the middle of July.

(Link: Tom Dundon wants his $70 Million back from the AAF)

Here’s what we know:

  • Tom Dundon is going to be locked in litigation for a while on this AAF thing, presumably. He’s having money troubles, or as much money troubles as you can have when you’re obscenely rich. The man is by all accounts a billionaire (his finances are not made public but Forbes estimates Dundon’s worth at 1.1 capital-B Billion dollars) and while billionaires have money to spare, people do not become billionaires by being generous.
  • Honestly that’s it. I dont need a second point here.
  • But just for funsies, here are numerous more points: Dundon bought the Carolina Hurricanes officially on Jan 12, 2018. He’s been there for half of a cup of coffee. He has no emotional attachment to the sport of hockey, or any one of the Carolina Hurricane players.
  • Aho is a 2nd round draft pick who has had one good year and one great year. He’s an encouraging talent for sure, but he’s no guarantee. It’s not *bad* asset management to turn a 2015 2nd round pick who is about to get a fat fat raise into numerous picks, including a first.
  • For the conspiracy / ALL SPORTS ARE FIXED nuts out there, the Habs and Hurricanes kick off the NHL season playing each other on October 3rd 2019. If Aho ends up on Montreal, that would instantly become a must-watch game, the rare NHL game that would be interesting even to non hockey fans.
  • Dundon has shown a predilection to bailing early, and if you don’t believe me, just try to catch an AAF game. Wait, you can’t. Because Tom Dundon folded the league in year 1, before it crowned a champion.
  • (Link: AAF Majority owner threatens to fold league)
  • (Link: Who to blame for the AAF Folding)

Every single hockeyman or hockeywoman who has weighed in on this has totally and completely ignored the real issue, focusing only on the hockey of it all, each one of them regurgitating and gargling and throwing up out the exact same opinion every time: Montreal didn’t offer enough money and thus, Carolina will match.

Is there a more annoying behaviour on earth than “arrogantly conformist”?

I’m not saying that Carolina won’t match this offer. In fact let me be clear, history dictates that Carolina will match this offer. Here is a chart of every offer sheet tendered since the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

Carolina’s own twitter account dictated that they would match the offer.

Boo this tweet

All I am saying is that it is crazy that nobody has mentioned the key issue here. TOM DUNDON HAS ALREADY LOST SEVENTY MILLION DOLLLLLLLLLLLLAR$$$$$ in 2019. It’s not a guarantee of anything. It’s not proof the Habs are getting this player. It’s just absolutely worth noting. Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has already lost $70 million dollars on professional sports this year. That man, whether he pulls the trigger or not, is not going to want to spend $20 million on a single hockey player this year.

It’s ridiculous that nobody has mentioned that yet. It’s ridiculous, and silly, and quite frankly boring that every hockey person has to share the same opinion about every issue all the time. It’s WILD that two Canadian networks aired 10+ combined hours of Free Agency coverage, and nobody has brought this up yet. If more people outside the hockey bubble watched the sport of hockey, this would have been picked off and discussed long ago.

So, thank you for reading this article, wherein somebody brings up the clear and obvious issue with the Aho offer sheet.

For Sportsfap, I’m fucking frustrated / finally exhaling Matthew Ederer


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