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Reports: NHL Investigating Marian Hossa, Chris Pronger Contracts

Jul 31, 2009 – 2:40 PM
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Adam Gretz

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It was only a matter of time until it came to this, but the NHL is reportedly looking into the long-term contracts given to Marian Hossa and Chris Pronger this offseason. Bruce Garrioch originally reported on Friday morning that the league was investigating whether or not the Blackhawks and Hossa had worked out, or discussed, the possibility of an early retirement, which would clear Hossa's salary cap hit off the books in the future. Hossa signed a 12-year, $62.5 million deal with Chicago on the first day of free agency after spending one season with the Detroit Red Wings.

Garrioch quotes an NHL executive as saying that the league is looking to put a damper on these types of deals, and that "they are building a strong case against Chicago to make an example of them. This issue won't just go away. Lots of other GMs are supporting the league here."

One general manager that's probably not supporting the league? Paul Holmgren of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Craig Custance of the Sporting News reported on Friday that Chris Pronger's contract is also being investigated.

According to Garrioch's report, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly claims the reason the league is looking into the Hossa deal is because it will take him into his early 40's, which is something that hasn't happened with the previous long-term signings. Pronger's contract also expires when he's 42, while there's been plenty of confusion as to whether or not it's considered an "over-35 deal." Just as a comparison, Henrik Zetterberg's contract expires when he's 40, as does Johan Franzen's. Vincent Lecavalier will be 38 when his new 10-year extension expires.

All of the aforementioned contracts are structured in a similar manner: front-loaded with ridiculously cheap final years that lower the overall cap hit. Lecavalier, Zetterberg and Franzen are each scheduled to earn $1 million in the final year of their deals, while Chris Pronger's is even more of an extreme -- the final two years of his contract will pay him, roughly $525,000 per season.
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