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And So It Begins...

If you read our thoughts on the NHL's arbitration system and how it will undo all of the progress made by the leagues new CBA, this should probably come as no surprise: The Sabres decided to part ways with right wing J.P. Dumont and his $2.9M arbitration award.

I figured it would take an extremely unjust ruling before a team let a restricted free agent walk without compensation, and this certainly qualifies. That amount is absolutely ridiculous. Dumont only has 256 points in 434 career games, and is -32 in his six seasons. He's only been a plus twice in those six years, and hasn't cracked 0 since the '00-'01 campaign. Oh, did I mention he only played in 54 games last year because of a sports hernia, an injury that tends to linger?

The sad thing, some NHL team will pay him the $2.9M, if not more. He's still receiving checks for his potential being the #3 overall pick in '96. The Sabres, on the other hand, let a 3rd line winger (albeit one worth far less than $2.9M) go for nothing. And it's only going to get worse. If he gets a contract on par with his arbitration ruling, it'll set a bad precedent. It'll only drive players' salaries up, which will in turn drive the arbitration rulings up. And onward and onward. This wouldn't be a problem if league revenues were also rising, but I'm afraid that won't happen for years to come, if at all. Owners could rectify this problem before it gets worse by refusing to offer these cut-loose players big contracts, or else the slippery slope will be further greased.