“You’re not as good as you think.”
“I’m better than you give me credit for.”
That’s the argument at the heart of NHL salary arbitration.
Though it’s not the only reason players and teams end up in the arbitrator’s board room.
Most arbitration hearings take place because it’s one of the few bargaining tools available to a certain class of player: the restricted free agent.
But the hearings are notoriously prickly.
The process virtually obligates the team to denigrate the player, listing all the reasons why he shouldn’t get the raise he wants.
That’s why many cases are settled before they begin: those headed for arbitration can keep trying for a negotiated deal right up until the hearing starts.
Of the arbitration showdowns set for this year, the most interesting takes place Friday, when the St. Louis Blues square off against T.J. Oshie, who tied for the team lead in points last season.
Will the team make mention of Oshie’s disciplinary lapse back in 2011?
The player might see that as a low blow.
But “special qualities of leadership” are accepted as evidence.
So when a guy sleeps through practice, a team is within its right to mention it at arbitration time.
2012 NHL salary arbitration hearings:
T.J. Oshie, St. Louis Blues, July 20
Sam Gagner, Edmonton Oilers, July 20
Kris Versteeg, Florida Panthers, July 23
Kaspars Daugavins, Ottawa Senators, July 24
Kyle Quincey, Detroit Red Wings, July 25
Nikolai Kulemin, Toronto Maple Leafs, July 26
Dale Weise, Vancouver Canucks, July 27
Anton Stralman, New York Rangers, July 31
Mark Fistric, Dallas Stars, August 1
Sergei Kostitsyn, Nashville Predators, August 2
Mark Fayne, New Jersey Devils, August 2
- NHL Salary Arbitration Explained
- NHL Restricted Free Agents Explained
Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images.