Monday, June 16, 2003


It seems a bit early to wonder about Mike Gorman's contract status, but what the hell -- if Jacks fans are gonna do it, I will too.

Emotions have been stirred by an unconfirmed rumor that the league's best goalie over the past two seasons (combined) is exploring other options, or maybe wants a better deal.

Contemplating that as well as the possible return of Trevor Allman or any other big addition, Ditkadog says Odessa's management reminds him of notorious skinflint Bill Wirtz (among others), while Flyersfan simply says they're cheap.

And yet, we're talking about one of the most stable organizations in the CHL -- considering how many teams in this league have been sold (or gone out of business) in the past three years, they must be doing something right.

More to the point, there's no such thing as "cheap" when it comes to salaries: everyone gets paid the same, $8500 a week divided among 18 players. If you're not gonna break the cap where's the money gonna come from?

I mean, they could bring in a Joe Burton-type player assistant (aka the "franchise player" in the old CHL days), but let's be realistic. "Cheap" is the '00-'01 El Paso Buzzards, playing several guys short (back when the WPHL had a 20-man roster) and under the cap. Cheap is the '02-'03 El Paso Buzzards -- bills unpaid, skates not sharpened.

If you want to tell me the Jacks should spend more on marketing and promotions, I'm with ya. But I hardly think they're sweating out player compensation in pursuit of profits. It's all about the cap.

If a defenseman and a goalie are gonna be among Odessa's top-paid players (both very deservedly), there's gonna be less money for star-type forwards.

Or, if they open up the vaults to bring in more offense, Gorman isn't going to get as big a salary as he deserves, especially compared to the open market. But given the ECHL's labor situation, there is no open market -- therefore the Jacks don't have to hurry (unless he's considering the UHL, ACHL or WHA2).

It's backwards, but loyalty isn't always rewarded at this level. None of Odessa's best guys (and none of Austin's best guys, for that matter) get paid as much as they could if they didn't care what city they played in or what coach they played for or whether the team was any good.

By the same token, there are players who will take less to live somewhere like Colorado or Indianapolis, but not West Texas.

An affiliation can be a big help with this stuff, not just for the players an AHL team provides, but for the money that it helps free up for vets. Gorman deserves a shot at the next level, but just because an AHL team is willing to provide that doesn't mean they'll pick up half his paycheck.

Anyway, we have no idea what affiliated players Odessa might have in the mix, or where Gorman might fit into that, or if a previously affiliated player is going to return without a two-way contract, in which case he would count for more money (or have to take a pay cut) too.

Fact is, if the ECHL settles their thing and they don't lower their cap and Gorman has a chance to play there for more dough and a two-way, he should go (though he might want to ask Ken Carroll his advice). It's up to the Jacks to present him with an AHL situation, but they can only go so high with money.

And if the ECHL does lower their cap, there won't be many better offers out there. If I was Odessa's GM, playing hardball at the negotiating table, I'd take one of these two tacks:

Mike, you're the best goalie in the league, but you don't get a raise losing in the first round two years in a row.


Mike, you're the best goalie in the league, but if you want to be on a team that doesn't lose in the first round for the third year in a row, we have to free up some cash to upgrade other spots.

As fans (or journalists), we get to make the easy calls. Sign this guy! Pay that guy! Dump that guy! GMs and coaches have a tougher job.

Though in the end, if McKee really plans to play for goals and open up Odessa's style, he'll need #40 in the crease.

On the Hockey Carousel
Here's why the hiring of Rampage coach Steve Ludzik was not a big surprise. So maybe it's a good sign that the guy hiring in St. John's has known Doug Shedden since the Memphis coach was 16 years old.

Here's confirmation Lubbock is talking to UHL star Jim Duhart. Makes for an illuminating sidebar to the Gorman thing. The Flint Journal's Brendan Savage also reports that Generals coach Robbie Nichols has talked to 80 players. Hmmmh, anyone we know? (sorry, couldn't resist).

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