a) He has earned the right to do whatever he wants
b) He is being selfish and holding the franchise hostage.
Personally I don't agree with either. He's been a loyal, outstanding employee for many years and has done more for the company than any other person, so he does earn a little leeway, but not enough to pull a Niedermeyer. He's not holding the franchise hostage either though.
I agree with Joe over at Mile High Hockey:
To assume that he [Avs GM Francois Giguere] hung his entire post-season plans on the decision of one aging veteran seems really absurd. If he did, then he doesn't need to be a general manager anymore.
Agreed. And none of the Avs alternative plans are really all that bad:
Option 1: Avs move on with no plans for Sakic
This option would surprise everyone a little, but the Avs could allocate the money they had set aside for Sakic's salary and use it towards a top flight free agent (Hello Marion Hossa).
Option 2: Av's hold onto money for Sakic The Avs could just set aside the money they would spend on Sakic (let's say $6.5M) and not even touch it. If he comes back fine, if not the Avs have $6.5M set aside in cap room for trade deadline and next season.
This would be the most limiting option for the Avs and could mean they miss out on a top flight free agent that they may otherwise want. The Avs currently have $28.07M in cap room. If they resign Foote, Finger and Sauer that should eat up about $8M. Then they have Wolski, Svats Machine, McLeod, and McCormick. If they resign all 4 (something I'm not convinced they will do since they are all RFA's) I would guess Wolski would be the only one getting any kind of substantial money. Let's guess approximately $6M is used in these contracts (and that's being fairly generous). Still leaving $14M in cap room.
Then there's the Theo question. Personally I think they are going to try and sign Theo for about $4-4.5M per season, leaving $10M. Subtract $6.5M for Sakic and the Avs still have $3.5 to go after a nice free agent. This should be enough for Brian Rolston or someone. Of course the Avs don't have to hold onto all of the $6.5M and sets up
Option 3: The Avs hold onto some money for Sakic
The idea that Giguere and Sakic (and Sakic's Agent) haven't talked about this is crazy. Sakic very likely realizes that in order to delay his retirement decision he will probably be asked to take a pay cut if he comes back so the Avs aren't hampered in their efforts to improve their team. The Avs could allocate say $3.5M for Sakic leaving them a nice $6.5M contract to offer a top-flight free agent. That may not be enough to bring in Hossa, but it might be enough to bring in, say, both Brian Rolston and Kristian Huselius. Of course if the Avs wanted just a little extra cash to go after a Hossa they could
Option 4: Save Theo's money for Sakic
The Avs could tell Theo thanks, but they need to have a door open for Sakic if he wants to return thanks. Go with Budaj, and save the $4.5M for Theo for Sakic if he comes back. That opens up a full $10M for free agents which let's them make a nice run at Hossa, or go for guys like Prospal, Malone, Langkow or anyone listed above.
So the Avs have options. None of their options are really all that bad. The person most hurt by Sakic's indecision is Sakic himself. I'll go over his options later in part 2.