Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari
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Q: Let's make a couple of assumptions that I hope never come true. The first is that the Pens do not win the Cup, and the second is that they are not able to hold on to Marian Hossa. What would then be your opinion of the Atlanta trade?
Hunter Caffee, Bonita Springs, Fla.
MOLINARI: The same as it is today, and the same as it has been since the day the deal was made: That the only way to validate sending four valuable assets -- Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a first-round draft choice -- to the Thrashers for Hossa and Pascal Dupuis will be to either win a Stanley Cup this spring or to re-sign Hossa so that he isn't simply a three- or four-month rental.
When the Penguins added those two, along with defenseman Hal Gill, at the deadline, it gave them as good a chance as anybody -- and a lot better than most -- of coming out of the Eastern Conference. The idea, though, is not to reach the conference final, or even to play for a Cup. It's to win the Cup, and when general manager Ray Shero strayed from his patient approach to constructing a championship contender by trading for Hossa, he took a calculated risk that his team was capable of doing that if it got a few personnel upgrades.
To this point, it's hard to disagree, given that the Penguins' 8-1 record is the best of any team through two rounds of the playoffs. The climb just gets steeper with each passing round, though, so none of the four teams still in contention should take any level of success (beyond getting into its conference final, anyway) for granted.
It is hardly out of the question that the Penguins will win the Cup, although it shouldn't be forgotten that they have earned only half of the 16 victories required for a championship. Keeping Hossa, at least at this point, seems a lot less likely, given that he already earns $7 million and likely will receive a raise and long-term contract when he qualifies for unrestricted free agency this summer, when the Penguins will face some difficult personnel decisions because of salary-cap considerations.
Q: How are players paid in the postseason? Do they all make the same money?
Brian Bahorik, Summerhill, Pa.
MOLINARI: Players' salaries cover the regular season only, and the money they get for performing in the playoffs -- even if they lead their team to a Stanley Cup -- is dwarfed by what they make during the previous 82 games.
All 16 teams that get into the playoffs receive money from a pool that is administered by the NHL Players' Association, with clubs receiving more money for every round they advance. That pool is funded by the NHL, and one league executive estimated its contribution for 2008 to be $6 million.
The NHLPA can distribute that money in any proportion it deems appropriate and, as a rule, players on a particular team receive the same amount. Members of the club's support staff, like trainers and equipment managers, often receive a share, too, or at least a portion of one.
First Published May 7, 2008 12:00 am