SBD/27/Franchises

ARBITRATOR RULES FEDOROV CONTRACT VALID; RED WINGS MATCH

          The Red Wings matched the Hurricanes' $38M, six-year
     contract offer to Sergei Fedorov yesterday, "just hours
     after arbitrator John Sands deemed the ... offer sheet was
     valid," according to Cynthia Lambert of the DETROIT NEWS. 
     The NHL had contested a bonus clause which could pay Fedorov
     an additional $12M, on top of the $16M he will earn this
     season, if the team he signed with advances to the
     conference finals (DETROIT NEWS, 2/27).
          NEW ECONOMICS? Fedorov's agent, Mike Barnett, said the
     Hurricanes offer could alter future free agent offers: "In
     the big picture, an expansion team can throw a monumental
     signing bonus at somebody over a long term.  They add a
     clause that says if they achieve certain postseason success,
     the bonus is brought to an immediate payment" (USA TODAY,
     2/27).  ESPN's Bob Ley called Fedorov's deal a $38M "poison
     pill that might very well change the way an entire sport
     does business."  ESPN's Al Morganti: "It sets a precedent
     for front-loading for future free agents" (ESPN, 2/26).  In
     Montreal, Red Fisher writes that the Hurricanes and Red
     Wings "effectively have put yet another massive facelift on
     the hockey market. ... How high are payrolls in almost all
     of the NHL cities likely to go?" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 2/27).  

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