Sami Salo has been one of the best Canucks defencemen for a full decade. He joined the Canucks in 2002 in a trade with the Senators for Peter Schaeffer. While he battled injuries and never played a full 82-game regular season, he was a steady, reliable presence with a howitzer of a slap shot, who made the team better when he was in the lineup. He was also a humble guy with a great sense of humour and incredible character. In coming back from injuries that would have ended the career of a lesser man, he was an inspiration to his teammates and his fans.
Salo was one of my favourite players and he just signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He won’t be retiring a Canuck.
And it’s okay.
Looking at it from an emotional perspective, it stinks. I had hoped that the Canucks could come to terms on a one-year deal with Salo at a similar cap hit to last year’s $2-million contract. He would have been able to shuttle between the second and third pairing as well as getting some time on the powerplay and penalty kill. Though he slowed down towards the end of last season, I thought Salo had one more year in him, after which he could retire as a Vancouver Canuck. In my fantasy world, his final season would coincide with the Canucks’ first Stanley Cup.
From a practical, rational perspective, however, it makes perfect sense, particularly when you look at the money involved. The Lightning signed Salo to a two-year deal worth $3.75 million per season. That’s the biggest cap hit of Salo’s career and, while it can be rightly argued that Salo has signed at below-market value for the Canucks in the past, a two-year term at that salary just doesn’t make sense for the Canucks.
Salo will be 38 at the start of next season and has an injury history more spotted than Waldo. Trust me, that analogy makes sense. Mike Gillis wasn’t willing to offer more than a one-year contract to Salo and, without considering emotion, it’s the right move.
To soften the blow from an emotional perspective, consider the following: Salo is, for once in his career, getting overpaid and he gets to play the final two years of his career in Tampa Bay with Mattias Ohlund, his one-time partner in Vancouver. Well, he’ll get to play one year with Ohlund, who is expected to miss the entirety of the 2012-13 season after knee surgery.
That didn’t actually help my emotional state at all.Tags: Free Agency, Salo, Salo is a superhero, Salo is your Palo, Sami Salo