"I've always argued that if you go to a hearing, it's actually the breakdown of the process. The fear or the risk of having another person determine a player's value, on either side, is what brings a settlement." — Ian Pulver, player agent, to the Globe & Mail, Aug. 2010.
Last summer, Clarke MacArthur went to arbitration with the Atlanta Thrashers after a season of 35 points in 81 games between Buffalo and Atlanta. The breakdown between player and team occurred between MacArthur and the Thrashers when (a) it became apparent he could get a hefty raise from an arbitrator and (b) Atlanta picked up Andrew Ladd from the salary-shedding Chicago Blackhawks, which made MacArthur expendable.
So the Thrashers simply asked for an immediate ruling without a protracted hearing. MacArthur, 25, won a $2.4 million award. The Thrashers walked away, with GM Rick Dudley telling the Globe & Mail:
"We said, 'You know what? Maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing if he gets this silly award. … We kind of encouraged it."
After 21 goals and 41 assists with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, another large arbitration award was possible this summer. But rather than waiting to see that — or GM Brian Burke's reaction to it — MacArthur agreed to a two-year deal worth $6.5 million ($3.25 million cap hit, per Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet).
This is a good signing: if MacArthur's performance wasn't a complete fluke then we have two cheap years before we need to sign him longer term and if it was a fluke we can bury him or move him at the deadline.
Ah, sweet cynicism. To put things in perspective, MacArthur had similar numbers to Patrik Elias last season. He'll make slightly less against the cap than Patty.