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The curious story of Scott Parker

I know the Scott Parker story has been given coverage today by both the Denver Post and Joe over at MHH. While I think that would normally be plenty for a player like Parker, I do think the story is worth looking at a little deeper.

The Sheriff was re-signed by the Avs on June 24th. At the time, the deal was a bit surprising for two reasons. One was that Parker had played in just 25 games for the Avalanche; with plenty of other players willing to drop the gloves, his services really weren't needed by the club. The other was that Parker signed a 2-way deal, meaning he would make less if he was sent to the minors ($500,000 / $100,000 were the reported numbers). And, with guys like Laperriere, McCleod and McCormick expected back, a move to Cleveland had to be in his future. While he probably wasn't going to have a lot of teams beating down his door with offers, wouldn't it have made sense for him to at least wait a week (for the start of free agency) to at least test the waters? Was there some sort of ultimatum from the Avs? Was there a threat to pull even the 2-way offer off the table if he wasn't signed by July 1st?

And then we fast-forward to preseason, with Parker playing several games. I think we were all a little surprised when Parker made the final cut over TJ Hensick and Per Ledin. Hensick, you may recall, had a terrific camp. Ledin's was not as terrific, but, unlike Parker, he's on a one-way contract and will make the same amount of money ($600,000) whether he's in the AHL or NHL.

Why would Parker make the squad over either of those guys? I think we might have gotten an answer the following day, when Parker was placed on the IR with a concussion. In true Avalanche fashion, Parker had apparently been injured in a fight 7 days before, yet no one, including Adrian Dater, knew anything about it. The fact that the Avalanche front office was playing games with injury information wasn't news, but, in my opinion, the timing of the transaction was. Parker was IR'd the day after teams pared their rosters to 23 players. While the "injury" was news to the media and fans, it wouldn't have been to the team (or, at least, it shouldn't have been). Had the Avs IR'd Parker the day before, they could have kept Hensick or Ledin. Instead, a week-old injury is suddenly announced the day after the roster was cut down. Why? My thought at the time was that the Avs were making room to claim a player from the waiver wire (Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, perhaps?). Obviously, that didn't happen. Perhaps no one useful was waived, or was grabbed by another team. Or, perhaps the timing was just an odd coincidence. I'm pretty sure we'll never know.

Then, 10 days later, Parker was quietly reassigned to Lake Erie after clearing waivers. To my recollection, there was almost no discussion of this news. Dater gave it those two sentences in his blog, and just one at the bottom of this article on Milan Hejduk. I found a little longer article here, and even that one was light on information. No one seemed to have any information on Parker's injury. Was he healed? If not, was there a reason the Avs kept him the NHL roster for a week and a half before demoting him? Conventional wisdom was that the Avalanche were sending him down to save money (and cap space), but if the move was simply financial, why wait?

As we've now heard, Parker apparently never reported to Lake Erie and they didn't seem to be missing him in Cleveland as it took 3 weeks for the Avs cut him for failing to report. How was he traveling to Cleveland? By foot? Even on his Harley (I'm just guessing he owns one) he could have made that trip sooner than that. Why 3 weeks? If he, as Dater's article implies, was still injured an unable to play since the demotion, wouldn't he be at least expected to check in with team doctors? And, for that matter, why is there no mention of the October 17th reassignment on the Lake Erie website? Geez, you almost get the feeling that the club knew he had no intention of showing up.

So, let me see if I have this straight. Scott Parker signs a 2-way contract with a team that doesn't need him a week before he could field offers from other teams. That contract will pay him $100 grand if he gets sent to Lake Erie, something he had to know was going to happen. Before the season starts, Parker gets injured but he and the team keep that a secret for a week. The team delays putting him on IR, forcing them to cut one of their players. Later, they send Parker to the AHL in a move to save money, but, for some reason, they keep Parker around to collect an NHL paycheck for an extra 10 days or so. Then, once they finally get around to demoting him, the club they are sending him to gets so excited that they forget to even announce the move. After three weeks, someone finally notices that the 6'5 tattooed behemoth with a crazy beard is missing and tells on him. The Avs cut him. Parker, apparently annoyed that he's losing $400,000 by being demoted, gives up an additional $100,000 he would have been given to watch games in Lake Erie in a suit.

Does that sound anyone?