Everyone knows what the phrase “15 minutes of fame” means. It implies that you only have a brief time in the spotlight. Many reality TV stars and musicians experience this in their careers. Does this phrase translate to the NHL? Not everyone can be the Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, or Jonathan Toews of the league, whose names are etched into history. There are instances where a player experiences his 15 minutes of fame, then poof he is gone. A few examples that come to mind are Jonathan Cheechoo and Ville Leino. Cheechoo had 93 points with the Sharks in 2005-2006, and was out of the league by 2010. Ville Leino had 21 points in 19 games with the Flyers in the 2010 playoffs, and then followed that up with 53 points the following season. It netted him a big contract, however he never amassed more than 25 points the next four seasons, and is no longer in the league. Those two players experienced a fast and quick 15 minutes of fame. This brings me to Curtis Glencross.
A brief history of Glencross, a Saskatchewan native has played a total of 9 seasons. His career included stops in Anaheim, Columbus, Edmonton, Calgary and Washington from 2006-2015. Glencross played in 507 regular season games and tallied 134 goals and 141 assists for a career total of 275 points. His stay in Calgary which lasted from 2008-2015 established him as a solid player and along with Antoine Vermette, was one of the most sought after trade pieces at the deadline last year. As the deadline loomed Glencross name spread throughout the league like wildfire. The Flames wanted to get younger and Glencross was approaching unrestricted free agency at the end of the season. The Capitals were looking for a player to help them surge through the playoffs and shipped a 2nd and 3rd round pick to Calgary for Glencross. Many people around the league thought this was a great pick up, and would put the Caps over the hump. That didn’t happen as Glencross sputtered down the stretch in his new home. He scored 4 goals and only had 3 assists in 18 games. Lucky for Glencross the Capitals acquired him to help in the playoffs, not necessarily the regular season. However the playoffs didn’t go according to plan either. The Caps were eliminated by the New York Rangers in 7, in the 2nd round. Glencross only dressed for 10 of the 14 playoff games and tallied only 1 goal, a -5, and averaged on 10:25 min of ice time. Not the bang the Capitals were hoping to get for their buck in March. So was that two weeks in March leading up to the trade deadline Glencross’ 15 minutes of fame?
When free agency approached, Glencross’ name once again surfaced. Questions surrounded him however, Was his play in Washington the beginning of a trend? How much money would he command? Where would he land? Could he bounce back? All of these questions were answered two weeks ago when he announced his retirement at age 32. In a league where players play into their late 30’s, Glencross is hanging up his skates. Glencross wasn’t offered a contract this summer. He eventually signed a PTO (or professional try-out) with Toronto, but didn’t make it through training camp and was released. Colorado offered him a PTO as well, and he looked as though he would make the roster. However he was released shortly before the regular season.
So what happened with Glencross? Did the clock run out on his 15 minutes of fame or is he the first big name to become a casualty of the ever looming salary cap? I believe it is the second option. Teams are becoming more and more strapped for cash, not wanting to get suckered in to bad contracts. Just ask Philadelphia with Vincent Lecavalier or Chicago with Bryan Bickell. I believe Glencross’ retirement was caused by the salary cap, not necessarily his skills diminishing to the point where he is irrelevant. Teams look for affordable young pieces, and don’t want to offer large contracts. Guys like Glencross, Daniel Pallie, and Tomas Kopecky who were once valuable assets to teams are getting phased out for younger, cheaper options. All three guys signed PTO’s this offseason but were unable to latch on due to salary cap problems. These guys are tough to sign for the veteran minimum, due to their stature in the league as well as their pride to not settle for the minimum. Unless the salary cap rises in the foreseeable future, expect many more cases like Curtis Glencross to happen. Players better adjust to the times, because teams are. Ask Cody Franson, who expected to command huge money on the market only to sit and wait until the Sabres finally signed him mid-September, for much less than expected. Times are changing in the NHL, and contracts are getting smaller, unless your name is Kane or Toews. Glencross isn’t a casualty of 15 minutes of fame. He was a solid player for multiple years that played for a bad Flames team and didn’t get much recognition. He just so happened to gain a significant amount of attention right before he was phased out of the league. Glencross can thank the grim reaper that is the salary cap for his disappearance. Don’t expect the salary cap to stop picking up victims anytime soon.