It’s hard to feel sorry for any 23- or 24-year-old human being whose paycheques in the next year will equal the lifetime total of most of us, but there is some sympathy in my soul for Andrew Cogliano.
The poor young fella has just been told that he’ll probably spend the rest of his hockey life as a third- or fourth-line checking specialist, starting with a million-dollar contract for the coming season.
Doesn’t it make your heart bleed, too?
He was a big scorer in junior and a big scorer at university. He’s a fabulous skater. He’s a hard worker and, by all accounts, a likeable young man.
But he has just had it explained in dollars and sense that his future does not include 30-goal seasons, not on a team that already has Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky and a bunch of draft choices — mere children of 18, 19 or 20 — who were still playing junior or age-class hockey when Cogliano was drafted.
The best thing Cogliano can do is give his head a shake, learn to win some faceoffs and understand that a 12- to 15-year career at a millions bucks every 12 months is not a terrible fate.
After all, things could be worse.
He could have gone to Ottawa in that never-closed deal for Dany Heatley, or to several other clubs in transactions that were never fully revealed. That’s when Cogliano first learned how little regard the Oilers organization had for his talents.
If Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini had been able to unload him, he could even be part of a contending team already — but no luck.
No wonder it’s easy to feel sorry for him.