On Lecavalier, Detroit as a Destination, and Non-Monetary Compensation


On Tuesday Red Wings free agent target Vincent Lecavalier agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Flyers on a five-year, $22.5 million contract.

Detroit wasn’t willing to offer that kind of term on a potential deal. Reportedly the team pitched a two-year offer based on concerns that the 33-year-old Lecavalier’s capabilities were in decline.

I wasn’t as against a five-year offer as many were. I think the Red Wings are going to lose Valtteri Filppula to free agency and the next best fit is Stephen Weiss. I’d rather overpay for Lecavalier than sign Weiss (or worse yet, sign no one).

I think the Red Wings set themselves up to fail with Lecavalier, though, by buying into their own hype.

It was known as soon as teams started talking to him that Lecavalier was looking for something around five-years at $5 million per season. The Red Wings were only comfortable offering two years. The unspoken part of their offer is that they thought non-monetary compensation would make up the difference. “Yeah, we’re not offering the money or the term but look at these other benefits you’d get that should make you want to turn down more money and/or term and come here.”

That’s worked in the past. Players have come to Detroit to play for the organization and live in and area where they’ll be revered as hockey gods but be given their personal space as well.

That’s not enough for every player, though, and it hasn’t been enough for any player since Marian Hossa in 2009.

I think this exchange with On the Wings’ Matt Saler sums it up a bit:

We were told last year when Zach Parise and Ryan Suter chose Minnesota over Detroit that the Red Wings were right there until the end but couldn’t beat out the pull of returning home for the players. Yet Minnesota’s offer was more than what the Red Wings reportedly offered, so it wasn’t just about returning home.

I talk about non-monetary compensation at my day job all the time. In the technology sector, our Michigan-based company competes for talent with all the Silicon Valley shops. We have to have things that set us apart from them – base pay, benefits, whatever. Maybe we’re the place to work if you actually want to live in a market where you can actually buy a house with a yard. The specifics don’t matter. The point is that we can’t just say “This is what we’re offering, take it or leave it.”

It sounds a lot like Detroit is doing that, not realizing that their non-monetary compensation isn’t enough anymore. If you can’t convince a guy like Lecavalier – who grew up a fan of the team – to take less money to come here you won’t convince anyone of it. Maybe it’s time for the Wings’ brass to realize it.


Clark founded the site that would become DetroitHockey.Net in September of 1996. He continues to write for the site and executes the site's design and development, as well as that of DH.N's sibling site, FantasyHockeySim.com.

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