This past week, a clear illustration of why it’s rather silly to buy a hockey jersey of your favorite player occurred. Brett Lebda, who a few years back struck me as the kind of defensive player who could become a great, and became a free agent this summer…signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And so, my “LEBDA” jersey, #22 on the back, road colors so that if I went to a game, we would match…becomes a piece of Detroit history. A history of a player talented enough to become a great, but held down and snuffed out on a team already full of defensive greatness. With names like Lidstrom, Kronwall, Rafalski, and Stuart above his own…he could be trained. He could grow. He could be challenged to perform on levels most defensive players never reach. But he couldn’t shine.
And so, a salary cap already tight on a team that doesn’t really need what he seems to offer, he was encouraged to look somewhere else. And he did.
Last year, Lebda made about $850,000 playing deep on the defensive line for the Detroit Redwings. His newly signed contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs offers him $1.45 Million per season, for a guaranteed two, possibly more after that.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who noticed his value being under-utilized/developed.
But as the Wings secure names like Lidstrom (one more year at least!!), Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, and are courting names like Mike Modano – it’s obvious that losing Lebda will not impact their ability to compete for the cup next year. Let’s bring it home, now that Chicago has had a party.
So now the question, for a fan such as myself without the means to go around buying new jersey’s for every “might be” Redwing long timer…..who to buy next?
Franzen? Abdelkader? Rafalski? Right now I’m leaning Rafalski…especially after an incredible second half of this season, his impact on the 2010 Olympic team, and all around seeming like a solid hockey playin’ man. He signed a 5 year contract in 2007, and perhaps they will re-sign him when that comes up? That’s the risk, I suppose…