Vladimir Sobotka and St. Louis Blues Headed for Salary Arbitration
Hockey fans in St. Louis, Missouri were alarmed when the St. Louis Blues announced they were taking star player Vladimir Sobotka to salary arbitration, fearing the move would backfire similar to the Ryan O’Reilly debacle playing out in Colorado.
The Colorado Avalanche forced new acquisition O’Reilly to arbitration seeking to lower his salary, and the resulting acrimony between the star player and the team has seemingly ruined any chance he will remain with the team despite his immense popularity there.
However, the Sobotka arbitration is different as the Blues have publicly stated they are not seeking a salary reduction, but are rather using the arbitration process to settle Sobotka’s contract more quickly than through traditional negotiations. The team’s stated concern is that Sobotka not lose any time at training camp next year due to dragging contract negotiations.
The Blues confirmed they will pay Sobotka a minimum of $1.4 million next season, as this is the amount mandated by the union as what Sobotka received in his previous contract. This has relieved much of the concern that the team was mishandling one of its stars and heading towards a messy divorce with a player considered vital to the team’s success in the upcoming season.
So far Sobotka has not indicated his feelings about being forced into arbitration rather than a more informal negotiation. In arbitration, he will have the option of accepting a one- or two-year contract, and his choice may indicate his overall feelings towards the organization.