Your fans in Nashville, not to mention your teammates and the management of the Predators, eagerly and with some trepidation await your decision about where you want to play next season. As you well know, this is a big decision, a decision that will not only affect your compensation but your chances to win a Cup. It is a decision that should not be made quickly but requires some thoughtful deliberation.
You are wise to take some time and ponder this decision. Obviously, the decision you make will affect the rest of your career.
You are weighing several variables. It may be forward of me, but I want to offer some input for your consideration. Sometimes, a different perspective helps to sort out what is important. Granted, I am just a fan in the stands, but maybe this will be of some help to you.
To start, you are right to want to get paid. You are one of the best- and most underrated- defensemen in the NHL. You deserve to get paid, and you have worked for this payday. It is time to cash in. I certainly don't fault you for this, and neither do the fans in Nashville.
Keep this in mind, though. The Predators have said they are going to pay you. The contracts with Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber have set the bar, so for the point of this discussion, let's say the Predators offer you $7 million per year. Pretty good money, eh?
Suppose a team that covets your services, say Detroit, offers you a bit more to jump ship. Say $7.5 million per year. An extra $500,000 in your pocket sounds pretty good. Until you consider that the State of Michigan levies an income tax of 4.25% on those gross earnings. That amounts to a $318,750 haircut, and that $500,000 difference suddenly becomes $181,250. Oh yeah, don't forget that the City of Detroit tags you for another 2.5% off the gross earnings, or another $187,500. Suddenly, that extra $500,000 has evaporated and your net earnings are $6,993,750.
You're a smart guy, and I'm sure that living in a state like Tennessee with no income tax starts to look pretty good.
You will be well served to examine the tax rates in any potential destination. Most of these places sure do take a bite out of that money that you are going to get paid.
By the way, don't forget to look into the cost of living in any potential new destination. Just so you know, Tennessee has the second lowest composite cost of living index in the U.S. Now I know that if you are making $7 million a year, that may not be a consideration, but it is nice to live in a place where your dollars go further. No sense in wasting those hard earned dollars.
Beyond the money, I am certain that you are going to look hard at the quality of life for you and your young family. You certainly want to live in a place that is good for your loved ones. That is understandable. We all want that. Just so you know, Nashville was the only U.S. city with an NHL franchise that was named by Kiplinger Magazine as one of the best value/most livable cities.
Just thought that might be important in making your decision.
Those are all important considerations, but for you, winning the Cup is what drives you. That is the goal of every hockey player, and I would be disappointed if you didn't have the drive, that desire, to capture a Cup.
You have said that you want to be in a place where you can win a Cup, and that will weigh heavily in your decision. It may be the primary factor in making your decision. Being a part of a team that can contend for a Cup is essential to you.
Yeah, about that.
I have to admit, Ryan, I am conflicted about this. Not that you want to win a Cup, but that your intimation is whether a Cup can be won in Nashville.
Consider these facts:
You have been here through the growing pains of this franchise. You have seen this team just be happy to make the playoffs, and you have been part of the team that finally broke through the first round and challenged in the second round. You were part of team that dominated our divisional nemesis in the first round and felt the sting of of a disappointing exit in the second round.
Yes, these are growing pains. And the growth of this young franchise has been steady if not spectacular. Consider what this team has done in its relatively brief existence, and the success and growth that has occurred. Not only have you been a part of the on-ice growth, but you have been a part of hockey taking root and flourishing in Nashville.
Now all those facts may not carry much weight with you, but I think they should. Not only is the team growing and improving, but now you have an engaged fan base that is one of the best in the NHL.
The ownership group for the first time in the history of this franchise has said they will spend to the salary cap.This means that you are going to get paid, but it also- and this is important- means that the owners are willing to add the components necessary to win it all. I think the acquisitions that were made this season are indicative of the desire of the owners to add the type of players that can bring the Cup to Nashville.
You are part of a youthful team that has tremendous potential. There is young talent that is seasoning and getting better, and blended with veterans like you, can play excellent hockey every night. And it is a young team that learned some lessons- painful lessons- by the early exit from this year's playoffs.
These factors point to a team that has the potential to contend for the Cup, not just now, but in years to come.
All of us were distressed by the second round loss to the Coyotes, and it is apparent that the Predators still need some pieces. But you know what? There will be 29 teams in June that will say they need some pieces.
The fact is that you are an integral part of the Predators, and yes, this team is close to genuinely contending for the Cup. The consistency and the upward trajectory of the Predators bode well for the future of this team. Having you on board means that consistency and upward trajectory can continue without interruption.
I hope you don't think I am being too forward in offering my input to you. Sometimes, another perspective is important.
How satisfying will it be to be part of a team that moved from expansion franchise to Cup winner? One that does it in a relatively short period of time. That is the opportunity and the potential that you have in Nashville.
And I and the Predator faithful hope you see that and will be a part of it.