A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The David Tanabe plot thickens

On Monday, the Hurricanes placed winger Jeffrey Hamilton and defenseman David Tanabe on waivers. Presumably, they will both clear, and the idea is to buy out both of their contracts. Each player has one year remaining on his contract.

As you probably know, the CBA does not allow a team to buy out the contract of an injured player. David Tanabe has been out since December with concussion-like symptoms. He's failed to show up for any year-end interviews or other meetings with team staff. While his camp is still saying that he's not well enough to even leave the house, the Hurricanes are confident that if it comes down to it, a doctor will deem him "healthy". If that turns out to be the case, the buyout will be legal and Carolina can move on.

It's no surprise that Carolina is buying out Green Eggs and Hamilton. Even when the Canes were banged up with injuries last season, he was finding himself in the press box as a healthy scratch pretty frequently.

This Tanabe thing has been a mystery. The "injury" itself is mysterious enough. Nobody was ever able to ascertain exactly when or how he sustained the concussion. All we know is that it happened in "the Alexei Ponikarovsky game" wherein the Canes made a miraculous comeback from two goals down with 85 seconds to play to win the game. He left that game at some point in the first period and never came back I reviewed and reviewed the game tape, and there was never any hit that would have caused a massive concussion.

I'm not saying that he made the whole thing up. I'm not saying that he had a major row with coach Laviolette. I'm not saying that there was a false injury. I'm just saying. This whole thing is pretty weird.

When Snuggles didn't show up for the team photo at the end of the year, everyone thought it was a little weird. When he didn't show up for his exit interviews, everyone thought it was even weirder. When he repeatedly missed meetings and didn't return phone calls, everyone started to wonder what the heck was going on. All along, we were fed the same line that he couldn't even see straight, let alone play hockey.

This talk of buying out Tanabe came up a few months ago. Of course it all went by the wayside because the CBA forbids the buying out of an injured player's contract.

Today, Luke Decock reports that the Canes are gonna do it anyway. He says that the Tanabe buyout will cost the Canes $600k and the Hambone buyout would cost $533k. For 2008-09, if both players are bought out, Carolina would take a salary cap hit of $416,667.

Tanabe has been nothing but trouble. After being selected 16th overall in the 1999 entry draft, Tanbe had two tenures with the Hurricanes, but never quite lived up to the high expectations. Instead, he lived up to the nicknames "Snuggles" (for being soft) and my personal favorite "Avi" (David - D = Avi). His second time through, he was easily Carolina's worst defenseman on a very bad blueline. Even when he turned the corner around Christmas of 2006 and showed marked improvement, he was still pretty bad and extremely soft.

Immediately following the game in which he was injured, I pointed out that I couldn't tell how he got hurt and I joked:
"At some point in the first period, "Avi" Tanabe suffered a concussion, but nobody knows how or when. I assume he concussed himself when he considered actually hitting someone."

There is no doubt in my mind that Avi will be well enough to file a grievance with the NHLPA. As of today, we're getting a "no comment" from Tanabe's camp.

If this saga were going on with some other team, I'll admit that I would be crying about how unjust and callous it is for the team to try to buy out the injured player's contract. However, this has gone on long enough, and has had so many odd turns that I'm having very serious doubts about the magnitude of Tanabe's injury. I'm not at all suggesting that he has personal problems and cried "injury" to cover them up. I'm just saying.

Other teams will have until noon on Tuesday to pick up Tanabe or Hamilton. After that, we might see some fireworks.


East of Here said...

I'll say it. I think he's malingering. Sure, I could be wrong; but like you, I never saw any hit that would concuss someone that bad. And even if it did, he could've made some efforts to meet with JR or somebody in the ensuing months.

Maybe he broke down, read some blogs and finally realized he sucked. And then went knutz. Dunno. Either way, I think if you read between the lines, JR is calling B.S. on the "injury" also...

evan said...

I always liked "Avi" as a nickname..."Hands of Feet" is my favorite, though.

magnolia_mer said...

I don't see any good faith effort put forth by Tanabe, so why shouldn't the Canes try to unload him? He's wayyy more trouble than he's worth. I'm sure there are more deserving players that would love to take his place.

I still don't think Hammy was that bad a player. Especially compared to Tanabe.

inthesinbin said...

After reading your judgement I have to assume that you've never had a hockey related concussion.
I was concussed in a game a couple of years ago. Nearly knocked out. Oddly, I felt OK that night, but the next game I played was devestating. I was dizzy, thought I was going to puke, and was so disoriented that I could barely drive home. I felt drunk. And I had not been hit at all during the later game.

Did you ever consider that he likely suffered the concussion in a prior game to the one in which he left? That is the most likely scenario, IMHO, having suffered a similar fate myself.

My concussion kept me at less than 100% for about 4 months. I later took a minor bump to the head, which caused a recurrence that kept things cloudy... frequent headaches and dizziness on and off for about a year. I didn't fully recover until I took 6 months off for shoulder surgery.

A bad concussion truely is debilitating. You can make assumptions and judgements all you like, but I suspect that your speculation may be unfair to someone suffering through a terrible injury.

East of Here said...

Could you not even pick up a telephone for the next 6 months?

I don't doubt he got concussed at some point. But since then, he has refused to meet with, or depending on the source) even speak with the team. He's skipped everything; even the post-season exit interviews. Hurt or not, there is something else going on with him. And if he won't even meet with the team, I don't blame them for buying him out. In fact, if that is the case, I want him gone last week.


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