This is getting ugly. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ attempt to sign Evgeni Malkin has taken an emotional turn, and that cannot be good.
Emotions cloud judgment, facts, and logic. Emotions are the antithesis of wisdom. Emotions usually lead to regrettable actions.
PHN can confirm that the sticking point is the average annual value of a contract, which is tied to its length. The Penguins want a three-year deal, but cannot meet Malkin’s overall salary asks in that span. The team has resisted making it a four-year agreement, which would raise its total value but could make the AAV work for both.
And so here we are.
This is a business. Plain and simple. If it were not a business, Jaromir Jagr might be in a Penguins uniform. If it weren’t a business, Marc-Andre Fleury could hang around until he’s 50, cracking wise and playing pranks.
Emotion is great on the ice. Emotion doesn’t work upstairs.
Thursday, Ron Hextall sought to clarify his comments from a day earlier, when he agreed that he wasn’t as optimistic about signing Malkin as he was Kris Letang.
“I wasn’t confident in Kris (Letang re-signing) the day before, either. That’s kind of how these things work,” Hextall said. ” … We’ve said right from the start that we’d like to bring him back, and I strongly believe that he wants to come back.”
A few days later, the public scene sounds more like a lovers’ quarrel. Things have grown tense rather than optimistic.
Hextall, president of hockey operations Brian Burke and FSG ownership do not have any obligation to placate emotions.
Malkin hinted that he wanted the respect and affirmation of a valuable contract on Breakup Day in May, when he dismissed the idea of a low, team-friendly deal. And with 72 hours until free agency, it appears the process is coming to a head.
Pragmatic Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin must understand the situation. He’s about to be 36 years old. Major knee surgery. Better than average 5v5 production but below-average defensive stoppage.
He’s one of the best when he is on his game, but age is catching up with him, whether he likes it or not.
There’s always the option to take a breather and see what is on the market. We suspect that process would be beneficial to the Penguins. There is not a more perfect fit. Short of an emotional play, how many teams will pay Malkin for four years, and give him a premium dollar?
Pull back and let the market tell Malkin where he stands. That was my contention about the Penguins’ contract talks a week ago. Kris Letang came to the middle, and then some, to get a deal done. He was rewarded with a risky six-year term.
Letang is in great shape and played 78 games last season.
Malkin is not and has not played a full season in recent memory. To hand a player whose health is declining a four-year deal would be bad business. It would be emotional.
Hextall is not emotional. The Penguins have probably taken the loyalty factor as far as they can. It has thus far prevented them from re-signing Rickard Rakell, Evan Rodrigues, and final decisions on whether to give qualifying offers to prospective free agents Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen.
“Hopefully, we can lock (Malkin) in and then kind of go from there. See what we have left (in salary-cap space), and then work from there,” said Hextall.
Malkin and Hextall are still dancing. It is impeding the Penguins’ ability to put together the best team. Malkin obviously is hurt, emotionally. Stark realizations never come easy. And unless someone convinces him of that, this process looks like it will have an unhappy ending.
Emotion creates regret. Perhaps we’ll all get a good look if Malkin indeed plays against Kris Letang and the Pittsburgh Penguins next season, as his Instagram post joked.