David M Singer
Jul 19, 2003
It took almost three weeks into the free agent season before Sergei Federov signed his big money contract. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, turned out to be the “winners”, who were bidding aggressively for the star after losing long-time Duck Paul Kariya to the Colorado Avalanche weeks ago. Just two days after signing another team’s top scorer in Vinny Prospal, Federov should give the Ducks what they need to repeat in the playoffs next season, and not suffer the same fate as former Cup Finals losers.
This should be a positive move for everyone involved. Federov seemed to have a shakey relationship with Detroit management and Anaheim was in the need of replacing a scorer and high-profile player. Also for the Ducks, Federov may be closer to a replacement of Teemu Selanne then Paul Kariya when you look at their offseason interests; Federov was looking to be closer to a Hollywood-lifestyle, living a rather public life already from his relationship and quick marriage with Anna Kournikova.
Looking to not spiral downward next season, as the Carolina Hurricanes did after their trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, Ducks General Manager Bryan Murray said, “We tried to upgrade our hockey team. I talked to Paul about adjusting his salary so we could upgrade our talent. I was of the understanding that Paul would make that adjustment and let us add a top line player. That didn’t happen, he decided to move on and that freed up money. Our commitment was to Paul Kariya, when that didn’t happen, my focus was moved to two guys and we got them both, Vinny Prospal and Fedorov.”
Unlike Detroit, where Federov was one of many star players, the Ducks are a team where Federov can certainly have his name stand out and give him the attention it seems like he’s been craving. Murray states, “He wants to be the top player, at the head of a hockey team, and I think we can provide that.” But is feeding his ego the right answer? Can that lead to continued success in Anaheim, or will it just lead to more off-ice drama? Federov thinks a previous relationship between him and Murray, and his success at the time, meant things should go well. “Murray was my first coach when I got to the National Hockey League for four years. I know how hard he works and the Mighty Ducks organization is headed in the right direction.”
What is certain is that Federov is one of the game’s clutch players. Since 1990, the start of his NHL career, Fedorov has recorded more playoff points (113) and assists (163) than anyone in the league. Out of his 400 career goals, 79 are game-winners. That’s 19.75%, close 1 out of 5 goals scored is a game-winning goal. His L.A. counterpart, Ziggy Palffy, has only 13.58% in comparison. He’s won the Hart trophy, and the Selke twice.
One of the more interesting tidbits of this deal is the contract. A reported 5-year $40 million didn’t shock anyone. However, unlike most contracts, Federov’s is top-heavy. ESPN reports that the contract terms are $10 million for 2003-04, $6 million in 2004-05 and $8 million a year for 2005-06 through 2007-08. Most years, it surely wouldn’t have taken this long to for agent Pat Brisson to get Federov signed, but with the CBA expiring after this next season adjustments had to be made, just in case of a work stoppage and a possible salary cap when play resumes.
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