GLENDALE, AZ - The Arizona Coyotes will host a special ceremony this season to raise banners honoring three very important salary cap hits in team history.
Center Pavel Datsyuk, center Dave Bolland and defenseman Chris Pronger will have their cap numbers raised together to the roof of Gila River Arena this Winter, commemorating the team’s dedication to paying all three players to not play for them. The veterans represent almost $29 million in combined dead cap space with exactly zero games played for the franchise.
"These three great players are what the Coyotes organization is all about," said general manager John Chayka. "After fantastic careers bringing championship glory to other teams, they now bring salary floor stability to Arizona. Hoisting their cap hits to the rafters ensures no one will ever forget the very useful financial obligations they created for this team."
The triple banner-raising ceremony will be held at a home game on January 7th against the New York Islanders. The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive either replica Pronger or Bolland medical records or a poster of Datsyuk playing with his current team, SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.
Added in separate deals over the course of a little more than a year, their combined cap hits kept the team above the salary cap floor and away from any league sanctions, allowing their young core of prospects to grow and mature even to this day.
Pronger was acquired with defenseman Niklas Grossman from Philadelphia in July of 2015 for forward Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick. A former Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP and already a Hall of Famer, the intimidating Pronger immediately brought leadership, a $4.9 million cap hit and an inability to ever play again due to concussions to the rebuilding Coyotes.
Datsyuk was traded to Arizona by the Detroit Red Wings at the 2016 NHL draft in a swap of first round picks and other assets. Known at the time to be leaving the NHL for his native Russia, his $7.5 million cap hit makes the three-time Selke Trophy winner and two-time Stanley Cup champion the Coyotes’ highest paid player even as he continues to skate 5,641 miles away.
The final piece of the puzzle was Bolland, who was sent this week to Arizona with prospect Lawson Crouse by the Florida Panthers for a couple of conditional whothehellcares to be named later. With the Panthers a division champion that want to spend his $5.5 million cap hit elsewhere, the perpetually injured Bolland became free to complete the Coyotes’ Holy Trinity of Dead Cap Space. Unlike Pronger and Datsyuk, Bolland will remain on the Coyotes’ books beyond this season.
"Like ‘The French Connection’ in Buffalo or ‘The Production Line’ in Detroit, these three players will forever be linked as iconic teammates," Chayka said. "They may not have ever actually suited up for the Coyotes, but without them, there’s no telling where we would would be today.
"I mean that literally. I actually have no idea where we’re going to play next season. But at least for this one, we’ll be cap compliant. Phew."
This is obviously totally fake. And before you say it, yes, the Islanders have had herded more Cap Mules in the last few seasons than the Coyotes have had playoff appearances. I’ve been here.