Vancouver Canucks’ fans are seething over Mark Messier’s arbitration victory that awarded him a $6-million settlement from the team.
The Vancouver Sun reports that the recent decision by a New-York based arbitrator came after he met with both sides this year.
Online reaction from Canucks’ fans has been swift and negative. The team had a dismal losing record in 1997-2000 when Messier played with them, and missed the playoffs all three years.
On a forum hosted by the Canucks, Sharpshooter lamented how Messier was “still screwing the Canucks,” while Bertuzzi Babe suggested the Hall of Famer should be “counter-sued for damages for all he was responsible for doing (not doing).”
Messier’s free-agent contract for $6 million a season began in 1997. Apparently, there was a clause that Messier would be compensated if the value of the Canucks franchise rose during his contract. The grievance, which may also be over "deferred money," was filed late last year.
After three seasons, the Canucks bought out Messier for $2 million, making his full payout $20 million for his time in Vancouver. Messier went to the New York Rangers and retired after the 2003-04 season. Messier, now 51, is currently a special assistant to the Rangers’ president.
MJDDawg wrote on the Canucks’ forum, “I can't believe how our management and ownership at the time would actually include such a clause.”
It’s unclear who will be paying the settlement. Messier’s contract was signed by former owner John McCaw who has since sold the team to Aquilini Investment Group.
Sun reporter Brad Ziemer tried to contact Francesco Aquilini but a spokesman said he had no comment and referred questions to Canucks’ management. They only commented that they were “aware of the arbitrator’s decision and will have no further comment.”
The NHL and NHLPA also refused to comment and Messier did not return a message from the Sun.