July 20, 2010

Why the NHL is dumb: July, 2010 edition

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

In recent years, there have been some mega-deals handed out to players. Some players might have been getting a bit more than they deserved. And a lot of players have signed for a lot longer than they deserve and longer than truly makes sense.

This has now all come to head with the signing of the longest deal yet: Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102-million contract with the New Jersey Devils.

Yet another team has promised an overabundance of years to a player that is destined to not play it out. Kovalchuk, at 27, will be 44 when this deal expires, and how many goal scorers keep their numbers up that late in their career?

But, as we all know by these ridiculously long deals by now, they’re nothing more than a way to work around the NHL infantile, simplistic salary cap system. The Devils have not been the first team smart enough to work out that adding on extra years – at cheap costs – are an easy way to bring down the average per-season salary of a contract and that is the number that goes on a team’s salary cap cost.

So now, instead of having what Kovalchuk will earn next season – $10.5 million – against their cap, they’ll only take a hit of $6 million. That’s much more manageable, no?

How the league has failed to close up this gaping loop hole is utterly preposterous. And now its teams are going to pay for it with these long deals, over and over again.

Not to wish bad things on anyone, but I can’t wait for one of these players with a 10-plus year deal to go down with a serious injury, just to frighten people into some action against them.

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