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For Bruins, price is right on Gonchar - Boston Globe
By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell.
Remember the awards for Dmitri Khristich and Bryan Berard, which Boston elected to walk away from because the front office felt the money was excessive?
Yesterday, the Bruins very much had one go their way when 30-year-old defenseman Sergei Gonchar was awarded a $5.5 million salary for the 2004-05 season, which the team said it will honor.
The Bruins went into Sunday's hearing in front of arbitrator Rolf Valtin offering $4.6 million while Gonchar and his agent, J.P. Barry, were looking for $8.75 million.
Although the award was far less than Gonchar wanted, it means a decent bump for the blue liner, who is coming off a four-year, $13.95 million deal that paid him $3.65 million last season, when he had four goals and five assists in 15 regular-season contests for Boston after being traded from the Washington Capitals. In the playoffs, he had one goal and four assists in seven games.
Bruins general manager Mike O'Connell said the decision was about what the club expected.
"As always with these things, you never know how it's going to play out, but with all the awards, you're happy you got a deal done," said O'Connell. "After the hearing, I thought $5.5 million sounded like a good number to me and it came out that way."
Barry has said in published reports that the Bruins were far too negative in their presentation. O'Connell disputed that.
"We've never presented cases like that," said O'Connell. "If you look back at any of the people who've gone to arbitration and they've always said we've handled it with class and dignity, and we did again.
"Do we say all positive things about the player? No, we don't. When the player's brief comes in asking for an award of $8.75 million, clearly it was way too high for a player like Sergei.
"Did we come in and say, `He can't do this' or `He can't do that'? No, we didn't. We admitted he's a highly skilled offensive defenseman, he plays a lot of minutes, but there are holes to his game as there are in everyone else's. I thought we handled it with tact, and we do not attack the players. We want to build a relationship with the players."
O'Connell said he spoke to Gonchar before and after the hearing and the defenseman seemed fine with the way the proceedings went. But Barry, according to O'Connell, was being unreasonable.
"He's acting like a spoiled brat, like a baby," O'Connell said. "Sergei and his Russian representative acted with extreme class and listened intently to what was being said and they were gentlemen. The other three guys [Barry, Ian Pulver of the NHL Players Association, and another representative from the IMG agency] were acting like spoiled brats. They're just three clowns."
Barry said O'Connell was out of line. "I don't argue in the hearings," said Barry. "The case is handled by the Players Association and the Players Association's lawyers. Let's be honest, both sides are obviously sensitive in a hearing like that. In order to achieve their goal, they do have to take an extremely negative approach to the player, and at the same time, we have to defend the player, so there is sensitivity on both sides. It can be a bitter process. I would like to say that I think his comments are unfair." O'Connell said the agent took issue with the team's contention that Gonchar should not be paid like, say, a Chris Pronger."They can say this player is the best defenseman in the league, that's easy for them to say," said the GM. "So what do you say? You have got to say, `Listen, Sergei's not the best defenseman in the league, he's nowhere near the best defenseman.' "The picture the team usually paints of the player is closer to the truth. If the player is a good player, they want to have a relationship with the player. They don't want to bad-mouth the guy and drag him through the mud, but you have to paint a realistic picture and hopefully the player will understand what they're doing."
On Aug. 15, provided no deal is reached beforehand, the Bruins will square off with Barry again when captain Joe Thornton heads into his hearing. "We'll make sure it's done tactfully," said O'Connell. "I'm not worried about J.P. Barry or Ian Pulver or the union. I worry about Sergei Gonchar and Joe Thornton.". . .
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4 августа. For Bruins, price is right on Gonchar - Boston Globe