Some really good quotes and information from Dean Lombardi on Cammalleri and the arbitration process. A good window into some of the complexities of these situations.
In my mind, this is the kind of case that arbitration was made for: the two sides were a huge gap apart (millions of dolllars per year) and saw the situation very differently; not a lot of common ground to build from. Arbitration allows both sides to make their case and get an outside party to come up with a solution both sides live with.
It isn’t perfect — far from it — but to me, that’s actually a good thing, it’s a motivation to both sides to avoid it and find a way to make a deal without it. I do wish there was some formal mediation process that could be implemented short of arbitration — they’re very different things — but we have what we have. In this case, I think it worked as well as can be expected.
Read the whole thing. well worth it..
Lombardi: Yeah, that’s fair to say. What I don’t want to do here is… nobody wins at these things. I think it is safe to say that it came out closer to our end, but these situations aren’t for winning and losing. The L.A. Kings and Cammalleri have got to be on the same team. So that’s the danger of saying, `Well, it was closer to us,’ is that you have to connotation of winning and losing, and that’s not what this is all about.
Lombardi: Yeah, I certainly hope so. You know, athletes are competitive people, or they don’t get this far. That’s unfortunately what can happen, and that’s why I say that this process itself is dangerous, because you’re looking for a resolution rather than turning it into a battle for a loose puck, where there’s a winner and a loser. This was kind of new ground too, don’t forget. The concept of young players getting so much now, so early, is fairly new. I don’t think there (previously) would have been an issue like this, where the spread was based upon the formation of this new market for players with one or two years under their belt. Usually you’re able to see a player for six years or seven years.
So I think part of this was a theoretical discussion about how the market is evolving under this new system, with free agency at such a young age, and its impact on young players getting a lot more money than they did in the past. So I think in a lot of respects, for the union and the league there was a bigger issue here than just Michael. Michael and the Kings couldn’t get caught up in that. But to answer your question, if there’s one thing we know about him, he’s a competitor and he’s driven. I do believe, as I’ve said before, I certainly prefer parts of the old system, where players had to pay more dues before they maybe got into this rent district.
But this is what we have to deal with, so the challenge for him, as well as the team, is to go to another level and take responsibility for winning. He had a good year last year, but it’s one year. The team still has not had success. He has to take responsibility, especially when you start getting in this (salary) neighborhood. Obviously I’m not saying that not making the playoffs in the last two years in Mike Cammalleri’s fault. Of course not. But there still is an element of, `As the team goes, the young player goes.’ When he takes responsibility for winning, with that comes more dollars too. Steve Yzerman learned to win, and Joe Sakic. What those guys went through to become the great players that they were, part of their greatness was learning to win. That takes time and I think Michael, given the driven kid that he is, I don’t think he’s going to let this hinder him from anything. If anything, knowing him, he might use it for incentive. With other players, yes (it might be a problem), but I don’t think that’s the case with him. I really don’t.
And like I said, this wasn’t the typical arbitration, where you go in and say, `OK, these are the 10 players,’ and the other side comes in with five different ones and you’re just looking at who is comparable. This had some bigger issues, as I said earlier, in terms of this shift in the marketplace.
Quite frankly, one of the things was the relevance of (Thomas) Vanek. So there was an issue there. That was an offer sheet, so (there was the question of) should that be applied in this setting? So like I said, there were larger policy issues here than in your normal arbitration hearings. I’ve had six of these and this, more than any other one, had more theoretical discussion than I guess practical discussion, where you’re just arguing about which (comparable) player is more relevant. I think that probably might have had something to do with it.