Thursday, September 14, 2006

Clarke tries a bold move, and stings Canuks GM...and Why Not? He's just playing by the rules!

VANCOUVER (CP) -- The Vancouver Canucks are going to be paying Ryan Kesler top dollar after all.The Canucks matched Kesler's offer sheet and re-signed the centre to a new contract Thursday after the Philadelphia Flyers extended a US$1.9-million offer to the 22-year-old on Tuesday.Vancouver had hoped to re-sign the restricted free agent for much less money. They had reportedly been trying to negotiate for roughly half the amount Kesler will now be paid.It was the first offer sheet signed by a player since 1999. The Canucks had a week to choose whether to match the offer or receive a second-round draft pick, but took just two days to make the decision.Technically, the last official offer sheet before Tuesday was in July 1999 when Tampa Bay made an offer for little-known Oiler Brett Hauer. Edmonton matched it.The last offer sheet of any note was in February 1998 when Carolina went after Detroit star Sergei Fedorov and the Red Wings matched it.Clarke's move sparked debate around the league. Some GMs privately questioned it although none of them would go public. The general concern was that Clarke nearly tripling Kesler's salary to $1.9 million would be inflationary and affect future comparable players. Kesler is a checking centre who had 10 goals in his rookie season last year.Philadelphia went after the young Canuck in an effort to replace former captain Keith Primeau, who was forced to retire because of concussion-related problems.For his part, Clarke wasn't concerned about how the move was viewed by others."That's the rules in the CBA," Clarke said. "The rules aren't convenient just for one team, they're there for everybody. You can't pick and choose. If you like one rule and I like one rule, does that mean we can only use one rule? That's crazy."If you're unhappy with the rules, complain to (commissioner) Gary Bettman."

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