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Making sense of the Shea Weber offer-sheet ordeal…

Let’s step back from the ledge Preds fans and try to make sense of the this offer sheet predicament.

Here’s what we know:

  • Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber, late Wednesday night, signed a 14-year offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers worth $110 million.
  • The Predators have seven days to match the offer.
  • A player is not required to sign any offer sheet he receives.
  • Per the current CBA, if Nashville chooses to match, they cannot trade Weber for one year.
  • General Manager David Poile is on record saying that the Predators would “match any offer.”
  • Weber is aware that, by signing an offer sheet (from any team), he runs the risk of being a Predator for the term of the offer. In this case, life.
  • Were Nashville not to match, the Preds would receive four first-round picks as compensation.
  • Those first round picks would most likely be somewhere between #20 and #30 overall due to the projected success of the Flyers. In other words, this isn’t the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets or Winnipeg Jets.
  • TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that there had been four “big players” in trade talks surrounding Weber. The Flyers, the San Jose Sharks, the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers.
  • The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper reported that Weber visited all four of the above organizations over the past two weeks. (How he kept that secret in today’s sports landscape is beyond me but that’s another topic for another day).
  • The Flyers and Predators have a long history of working together (see: Peter Forsberg in 2007, Dan Hamhuis‘ negotiating rights in 2010, Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell‘s negotiating rights in 2007, Danny Markov in 2005, etc.)
  • Weber declined to go to arbitration with the Preds this summer.

Here are just some of the possible scenarios that may have led Weber to sign the offer sheet, as opposed to just working out a deal with Nashville directly.

THEORY #1: The Flyers believe the Predators won’t match the offer
Ever heard of Occum’s razor? It’s the principal, basically, saying the most logical answer is the correct one. That’s where this first theory comes in. Perhaps Philadelphia honestly believes that the Predators are bluffing when they say they’ll “match any offer.” Or maybe they believe that was the old rule. Since defenseman Ryan Suter misled the only franchise he’s ever known and bolted for the Minnesota Wild on July 4, maybe the ownership’s philosophy has changed from “we believe we’re a Stanley Cup team and we’re going to spend like it!” to “well, let’s hold off on that whole spending-to-the-cap thing.” If the latter is the case, than the Flyers are doing the right thing by securing the best defenseman in the league by tossing him an offer sheet that Nashville, they believe, won’t match.

THEORY #2: Shea Weber wants to stay in Nashville
This may be a backwards way of doing things but think about it. Poile is on record saying he would “match any offer,” correct? Obviously, Weber is aware of such a statement. Therefore, if he wants to stay in Nashville for the rest of his career, all he has to do is wait for another team to offer the money he wants and the term he wants and boom! Preds match and retain their captain, Weber gets his money and everyone’s happy.

THEORY #3: The Flyers are playing a little defense
If we’re being real about it, the New York Rangers are a tremendous fit for Weber. Like the Predators, they have a Vezina-nominated goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist, like the Predators, they have an up-and-coming group of young forwards and, like the Predators, they boast an impressive young blueline with names like Ryan McDonagh (23 years old), Marc Staal (25) and Michael Del Zotto (22). Weber would have slid right into place on the top pairing and made them an instant Stanley Cup favorite. But here’s Phili, a division rival of the Rangers saying, “we can’t let them have Weber!” After all, they play them six times a year and would probably have to go through them in order to get to the Stanley Cup Finals. In other words, it’s already hard enough. No need to allow it to get harder. Cue the ridiculous offer sheet that they know A) Nashville won’t match and he’ll become a Flyer, not a Ranger or B) Nashville will match and he’ll stay a Predator, i.e. still not a Ranger.

THEORY #4: Weber wants some insurance
Unlike the NFL, contracts in the National Hockey League guarantees you the money you sign for. With new collective bargaining agreement discussions taking place between the NHL and the NHLPA, anything could happen going forward. What if the two sides agree on the NHL’s opening offer? (yes, I know that’s not realistic but go with me on this). Weber, along with every other player, would have a five-year limit on any new contract. What if he suffers a career-ending injury in year five of the deal? His career is over and he has no more paychecks coming in. By signing this 14-year offer sheet while he still can, he guarantees he will be making all $110 million over the next 14 years, whether he never misses another game or gets hurt on opening night of this season.

THEORY #5: Preds and Flyers were close to a trade
Obviously the best thing Nashville could do, if they weren’t going to re-sign Weber long term, is trade him for a kings ransom. Using our Edmonton Oilers example a week ago, the Preds could have gotten young game-changer Jordan Eberle, a talented minor leaguer looking for a shot in Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and a first round pick in exchange for their captain. But Philadelphia has assets too. Assets like 19-year old Sean Couturier who scored 13 goals from the bottom two lines, was second on the team in plus/minus and who has tremendous room to grow. They’ve also got both young phenoms Luke Schenn and Braydon Schenn. They’ve even got former Predator Scott Hartnell who had a career year last year bagging 37 goals and 67 points (don’t get too excited though, he played with Claude Giroux). Since Nashville was reportedly interested in Couturier, one of the Schenn brothers and more, it’s possible that the two sides are working out a trade and need more time to decide. While they’re making up their minds, however, Weber is vulnerable to an offer sheet from anyone, thereby nixing any trade progress, so Philadelphia acts first and buys them some time. But you say, “they can’t trade him now, though.” That’s true. But what if there’s an understanding in place that, once the Preds decline to match and they officially receive the four first round picks as compensation, the Flyers then re-acquire the four picks in exchange for the two (or three) roster players Poile and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren have agreed on? Obviously, it’s complicated but, again, these are two men who have a long history of working together. Anything’s possible.

THEORY #6: Weber wants to have some say in where he goes
Just because a team comes to a player with an offer sheet doesn’t mean he has to accept it. They have to actually sign on the dotted line before the process can start. With that in mind, perhaps Weber didn’t want to be traded to Edmonton or Anaheim or Timbuktu. By working out a deal and then signing with the Flyers, Weber gives himself at least some say as to where he’ll play the rest of his career. He could really like Philadelphia but he also may not mind staying in Nashville. By putting pen to paper and hitting “send FAX,” Weber knows for sure he’ll be in one of those two places and not wasting his eighth NHL season with a team he doesn’t care about/have no chance to win a Cup with.

THEORY #7: Poile has called in a favor to his old friend Holmgren
As mentioned before, the Predators and Flyers go back a long way. They’ve done so many deals over the years, in the late 2000’s, Philadelphia was nicknamed “Preds North.” That being said, could Poile have dialed up Holmgren one more time and asked for a favor? If talks with Weber and his agents weren’t going well, it’s possible — although improbable — that he wanted to speed up the process and asked the Flyers do him a solid and throw an absurd offer sheet at the Sicamous, British Columbia native. This would force Weber’s hand a little bit but, at the end of the day, the Predators would get what they want (their captain) and Weber would get what he wants (term and money).


We asked three Predators bloggers to give us their thoughts on the scenarios.

Ryan Porth, Smashville 24/7
I fully believe Weber wants to speed up the process and get a contract signed – whether it’s with Nashville or not. He’s smart enough to know that this is his best (only?) chance to become the NHL’s highest-paid defenseman before a new CBA is hammered out. After two off-seasons of David Poile being unable to get him locked up long-term, I get the feeling Weber is fed up and wants to get it all over with.

I do not think he simply wants out of Nashville. Could he have a desire to play with the Flyers? Of course. As his agent stated, he wouldn’t have signed an offer sheet without having an intention to play with the Flyers. But he also wouldn’t have signed a 14-year offer sheet without knowing he could be spending the next decade and a half in Nashville.

If he really wanted out of Music City, he would have opted for arbitration and set his sights on free agency in 2013.

Robby Stanley, Hockey Night in Nashville
It makes perfect sense to sign an offer sheet from Weber’s perspective. With all of the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming CBA, Weber has guaranteed a way to get a massive contract for a number of years, which may not be possible in the next CBA. Signing an offer sheet with Philadelphia speeds up what could have been a long, drawn out process for Weber. Last summer’s arbitration process took a toll on Weber, and he didn’t want to deal with a similar drawn out process this summer. This way, Weber gets it over with. He’ll either be in Philadelphia for the next 14 years or he’ll be in Nashville. And at this point, it’s all up to the Predators.

Amanda DiPaolo, Inside Smashville
Reports indicate that Weber visited several facilities before signing an offer sheet with Philadelphia, that also included meeting with the New York Rangers, Detroit, and San Jose. A lot of thought has gone into this decision by the All-Star defenseman. Weber likely does want to play for the Flyers, but signing a 14-year deal means that he can’t be entirely opposed to playing in Nashville long-term since the team has the chance to match the offer. However, the comments made by Weber’s agent were surprising because he spoke as though Weber had signed as an unrestricted free agent. That said, the deal is designed to make it extremely difficult for a small-market team like Nashville to match the offer. The $110 million isn’t the problem, rather it is the signing bonus of $13 million that Weber will be paid up front for the next four seasons. Could it be the case that Weber simply knows it is impossible for the Predators to match the offer? Maybe. But why take the chance signing a 14-year deal if you are adamant against playing for the team that has the right to match the offer sheet?


We’ve covered realistic scenarios, absurdly complicated scenarios and downright laughable scenarios. We’ve had three bloggers weigh in with different reactions. So, in the end, what have we learned? We’ve learned that we know very little. And that’s the point. Don’t jump to conclusions, don’t assume the worst and, for crying out loud, come off the ledge.

Or at least wait until the Predators decide one way or the other.


PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Fuqua // Flickr (used with permission)


  1. original6

    July 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Weber Offer Sheet: What nashville fans don’t see or not aware of.
    1.The CBA clearly states that anything that violates the spirit or intent of the CBA is a circumvention of the CBA. It need not be a violation of the letter of the CBA.
    2.The CBA states that a player’s salary in any single season may not be more than 20% of the Upper Limit as set in the year in which the player signed his contract.
    3.Using the signing bonus mechanism to pay Weber $14MM in season one and another $13MM on 7/1/2013 has, literally, the effect of paying him $27MM in season one.
    4.You could argue that paying Weber $27MM between late July 2012 and July 1 2013 violates the spirit and intent of the rule that caps compensation at 20% of the Upper Limit, which, I might add, the contract exceeds by almost 200%.
    5.But that’s not all. There’s also the matter of the “100% Rule.”
    6.Reportedly, the deal is for $14MM for four years, $12MM for two years, $6MM for four years, $3MM for one year, and three years of $1MM. All of that, considered as straight salary, is fine with regard to the 100% Rule.
    7.But the contract pays out signing bonuses in each of the first six years, to the tune of $13MM, $13MM, $13MM, $13MM, $8MM, $8MM. Let’s assume that these bonuses are kosher, too, in and of themselves.
    8.However, if the timing of the bonuses is such that each bonus is paid on 7/1 (except for the first one, which happens sometime in the next week), then the effect of the bonuses is to alter the alter the actual salary totals for several of the seasons over the course of the deal.
    9.Remember that the reported salary numbers are 14, 14, 14, 14, 12, 12, 6, 6, 6, 6, 3, 1, 1, 1.
    10.The effect of paying two bonuses in the first year means that each subsequent bonus “moves up a year.”As a result — and as a practical matter — the effective salary numbers are: 27, 14, 14, 9, 12, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 3, 1, 1, 1.
    11.The problem is season six. Stripped of its bonus, the effective salary for that season is only $4MM.
    12.The 100% Rule says that after the first two seasons of a contract, the difference from season to season cannot exceed half of the smaller of the salaries for the first two seasons. Half of 14 is 7.
    13.But the effective difference between season five and season six is $8MM.
    14.That’s a violation of the intent and spirit of the 100% Rule.
    15.Signing bonuses were intended — as the name suggests — as bonuses for signing. The CBA allows teams to spread out the signing bonus over several years, and I think it’s safe to assume that the intent of that was to make it easier on teams to pay an otherwise prohibitively big chunk of change.
    16.One interpretation of Philly’s offer sheet is that they’re trying to make it actually impossible for Nashville to come up with the money. They’re not trying to force Nashville into a cap-crisis (which is a strategy the CBA anticipates). They’re trying (if you believe this interpretation) to force more money into season one of the deal than is allowed by the CBA, for the (arguable) purpose of undermining Nashville’s ability to compete.
    17.The CBA makes specific reference to its intention of striking a balance between the cash-rich and cash-poor teams, making it easier for the poorer teams to compete.
    18. Again, we’re talking spirit and intent, not letter.
    19.And if you think all this spirit and intent stuff is a bunch of B.S., check out the Kovalchuk decision.

    • ralonzi

      July 21, 2012 at 11:20 am

       @original6 You are conveniently leaving out a few facts.
      1. Shea Weber was being shopped BY DAVID POILE to teams that included at least Philadelphia, Detroit, New York, and San Jose.  He visited the first three cities.  You are assuming in at least a few of those theories above that Poile was trying to retain the player.  The REALITY is he was trying to trade Shea to a number of teams to ensure he got something in return.  In fact, the Flyers submitted the offer sheet when they grew tired of David Poile’s demands – there was more than one way to skin a cat and the Flyers chose the second way.
      2. Paul Holmgren would never “do a solid” and fire up his fan base by making such a bold move without the intention of actually getting the player. Dumbest theory I’ve ever heard.
      3. Offer sheet was submitted to the league and approved so you whiners can stop trying to find loopholes.  
      Poile is trying to get some NHL players in return so he can save face.  But forget about Couturier or either Schenn; that is the reason he got offer sheeted in the first place.

      • original6

        July 21, 2012 at 11:46 am

         20% of the Upper Limit as set in the year in which the player signed his contract…that MIGHT be a sticking point in the deal. Poile has said a number of time that “he’ll match any offer and retain Weber” that’s a fact. Below is a story that shows the difference between my GM and GM Holgren. I’m guessing your GM is like my GM. 
        Tale of 2 GM’s (Mine being Boston’s Peter Chiarelli)
        Last summer Holgren shipped Flyers captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter away from Philadelphia in a couple of stunning moves that left their fan base slack-jawed and stupefied.He forked over a gigantic long term contract for an unproven playoff performer in Ilya Bryzgalov when the Flyers needed stability between their pipes. Holmgren shipped James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs when the Flyers got tired of waiting for the former UNH star to return from injuries in a more timely fashion.
        This summer Holmgren has bucked GM etiquette and signed restricted free agent Shea Weber to a 14-year, $110 million deal with a front-loaded contract construction that makes it nearly impossible for the Nashville Predators to match it. It’s a maneuver that’s within the bounds of the current CBA, and therefore 100-percent adhering to the letter of the law.
        That didn’t concern Holmgren when it came time to find a defenseman that could fill the void left by the concussed Chris Pronger. Instead he executed the big move without much long term worry about next year’s CBA climate or the long term planning strategies that can sometimes paralyze an otherwise aggressive general manager.
        But his method with the B’s is more about drafting and developing young players, cultivating underrated talent at the NHL level and finding the perfect fits for a Black and Gold membership that’s already proven itself Stanley Cup worthy. It’s not about splashy moves or change for the sake of mixing things up.
        That kind of conservative team-building can challenge the short-term attention span needs of a rabid fan base that’s come to expect greatness. But it also can be effective as it’s been in Boston.
        The Bruins have packaged together a talented young nucleus of players that are largely just entering their prime years of production, but they’re also battle-hardened after five straight playoff appearances. They also still have more talented youngsters coming up the pipeline with first round picks Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron expected to be core performers for the 2012-13 season.
        Chiarelli is happy to give his Bruins nucleus one more season to prove just how good they can be with no Stanley Cup hangover excuses or Tim Thomas drama hanging over their heads. If they falter again in the first round with such a talented cast then things might be a little different.
        But the Bruins weren’t big players for Zach Parise despite their “significant offer.” They’ve done little more than exploratory trade discussions with Anaheim, Phoenix and Columbus for the respective services of Bobby Ryan, Keith Yandle or Rich Nash. Chiarelli has explained all along that he’s not looking to “dismantle” what’s proven to be a championship core of players, and there are clear benefits to keeping the same group of players together year after year.
         It speaks to pros and cons to each way of handling their business as general managers. The Flyers will constantly address their team needs and bring high end talent into the Philadelphia fold, but that leads to an alarming amount of turnover year after year. The Bruins have stayed the course with a talented group that has grown up together in Boston.
         But the same old problems plague the B’s cast of characters: a pitiful power play and a limited group of defensemen when it comes to the puck-moving department. It hasn’t changed in the last two years, and there is slim hope that things will radically improve next year in Boston with the same personnel.
        The one ultimate difference-maker when Holmgren and Chiarelli are placed side-by-side for evaluation? It’s the Stanley Cup raised by the Bruins and their conservative GM two seasons ago even if that’s long gone and forgotten by a “what have you done for me lately” hockey fan base.
         Holmgren gets the Flyers Faithful excited with courageous roster moves and keeps the hockey franchise in the headlines by always chasing after household names via trades or free agency. But sometimes the best moves are the ones never made by a conservative, deliberate GM that shows true value in their players.
        After all it was Chiarelli and the Bruins that refrained from trading away Tim Thomas to Philly for Simon Gagne back in 2009 when Holmgren was once again looking to remake his team.
        Chiarelli’s unwillingness to simply flip away a key asset is exactly what separates the two GMs at the end of day. It’s also why one has a Stanley Cup on his resume and the other has retreated back to the drawing board each and every season.           

        • RolandBrianAlonzi

          July 23, 2012 at 10:19 am

           @original6 Poile actually said the Predators INTENTION is to match any offer Shea Weber received.  Intention and actually doing it are two different things.  As for Richards and Carter, I LOVED those deals. Richards and Carter were party boys off the ice and both butted heads with the coach and Chris Pronger, the true leader despite not wearing the C. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter combined 2012 regular season: 39 G, 39 A. JUST SIMMONDS AND VORACEK combined 2012 regular season: 46 G, 52 A. Add in Schenn and Couturier, who is going to be a multiple Selke winner, and it’s 71 G and 72 A.Yeah, I definitely like those deals.  As a matter of fact, two of those players are so promising, they were being asked for by Poile in any trade for Weber, to which Paul Holmgren laughed.

  2. original6

    July 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Shea Weber CBA offer sheet compensation CHEAT SHEET
    1.Nashville has seven days to match the offer sheet signed by Weber.
    2.If they match, the offer sheet becomes a valid contract between Weber and Nashville.
    3.If they don’t, the offer sheet becomes a valid contract between Weber and Philadelphia.
    4.There is no renegotiation of the deal. The deal is the deal. The only question is, WHO is the deal with, Philly or Nashville.
    5.If Nashville lets Weber walk, they get, as compensation, four first round draft picks from Philly.
    6.The CBA says that these picks have to be the original picks of the team that tendered the offer sheet (i.e. they can’t use picks they’ve acquired in trade). If you don’t have the picks, you can’t make the offer.
    7.The Flyers would have the option of giving the Preds four of their next five 1st round picks. They get to pick a year in which they keep their pick.
    8.No matter what happens, Weber can’t be traded for one year after the deal is official.
    9.I read in several places that the compensation in draft picks is two 1sts, a 2nd and a 3rd. See my previous post on this topic.
    10.The bottom line there is, the CBA (Article 10.4) doesn’t use the cap hit of the deal to figure the compensation. You take the total amount of the deal and divide by the number of years of the deal, or you divide by five…whichever is smaller. Five is smaller. So you divide by five, not fourteen. That puts the $100MM deal way way way into the highest compensation category.
    11.I also read in a few places that whether Nashville matches or not depends on the way the deal is structured, Preds fans in particular worrying that if the deal has some kind of massive, unlimited front-end bonus situation, then maybe they wouldn’t be able to match it.
    12. Stop worrying. There’s a limit to how much they can frontload it. It’s this:No single season’s compensation (which includes bonuses) can exceed 20% of the “upper limit” (which is what the cap ceiling is called in the CBA) in the year in which the player signs
    13..This year the ceiling is $70.2MM. That means Weber’s deal can’t pay him more than $14.05MM in any one year of his deal.
    14.And this includes bonuses.
    15.Presumably, the reason for the signing bonuses is that they can be paid in one lump sum, rather than carved up into the player’s paycheck.
    16.Also:Signing bonuses, people keep saying and I honestly don’t remember but let’s take their word for it, were still paid during the last lock-out.

  3. luvthepreds

    July 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Great explanation.  The one thing I was still unsure of was cleared up in Porth’s reaction (specifically, what did it mean that Suter decided against arbitration this time around). 

    • goverjkg

      July 21, 2012 at 7:26 am

       @luvthepreds Weber was the one who declined arbitration. The team elected arbitration last summer, never actually thinking it would get that far. Because they did that, they could NOT elect arbitration this summer with the same player (Weber) who’s an RFA. Therefore, it was a player-only option this summer whether to go to arbitration or not. Weber elected NOT to which means he was/is open to staying in NSH. He easily could have elected for arbitration, got a one-year deal out of it and then become a UFA next summer. He chose NOT to do that.

  4. original6

    July 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    If this deal violates the “20% Upper Limit” rule, I think the Parise and Suter contract is a null and void. I could be wrong.

  5. RichardOsborne

    July 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Great, great thanks for sifting through it all, tossing most of the chaff and laying out a few kernels of perceived truth.  I’m off the edge now but I’m not breathing any easier.

  6. original6

    July 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    With Weber the 20% Upper Limit rule might be violated…according to the numbers.

  7. sethdean

    July 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    There is no concern with the signing bonus, because if there was, Suter and Parise’s contracts would have been voided.  They received $10M on July 4, 2012, will get $2M throughout the season, and another $10M on July 1, 2013.  That is $22M in 362 days.  League approved those contracts, Weber’s is legal too.

  8. original6

    July 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    You’re welcome, took me a few hours to sift through it myself. However…your ownership has put your team in a huge bind. While looking at the numbers, from the Flyers offer sheet, they sure have made it very hard to match a deal so front loaded. I know you guys don’t have the crash, which is sad, however it may go the way of a trade. I guess we’ll see how it plays out until Wednesday.

  9. original6

    July 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    “No single season’s compensation (which includes bonuses) can exceed 20% of the “upper limit” (which is what the cap ceiling is called in the CBA) in the year in which the player signs” – that MIGHT be the sticking point for you guys and it might be the crack you guys need to retain Weber. It’s worth a shot though.

  10. original6

    July 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Spending $26M in one calendar yr, NSH would be forking over 16% of entire franchise net worth ($163M in ’11 accd to Forbes) to match offer. I don’t see that happening.

  11. sethdean

    July 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    If the quoted word is “season”, then the contract is definitely good.  June 30th and July 1st of the same year are two separate seasons.

  12. original6

    July 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Oh…in the above mentioned “Weber declined to go to arbitration with the Preds this summer.” He went to arbitration last year and got the $7.5M awarded to him when the ownership offered $4.75M. You can’t go to arbitration 2 years in a row, I might be wrong, but I don’t believe you can.

    • goverjkg

      July 21, 2012 at 7:29 am

       @original6 The TEAM cannot elect arbitration two years in a row. The player has the right the second year, however.

  13. original6

    July 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    You guys enjoy your weekend. Hope I cleared up alot of things you guys might be wondering about.

  14. original6

    July 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Just found this…you guys might become a cap team and you guys might be able to stick it to the Flyers.
    In November of 2011, the Preds brought on board, as a 5% owner, W. Brett Wilson, a prominent Canadian businessman whose net worth exceeds almost all NHL owners currently. Wilson is a well-known Canadian businessman and philanthropist based in Calgary, AB. He is currently Chairman of Canoe Financial, an investment management firm with over $2.0 Billion in assets.

  15. original6

    July 21, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    My question is does a 5% owner want to be the financier to the biggest contract in franchise history without a more significant stake in the team. 

  16. Pingback: Will the Rick Nash trade actually help the Predators get better value for Weber? | Section 303

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