UPDATE: EVEN LOU DOESN'T LIKE KOVALCHUK CONTRACT

Jason Gregor
July 20 2010 02:13PM

New Jersey Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk is sent off the ice for a penalty in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final hockey playoff series in Newark, New Jersey April 16, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

I can’t believe Ilya Kovalchuk only signed for 17 years, instead of 19, to match the amount of days it took his agent and the Devils to make a mockery of the CBA.

Kovalchuk is signed through to the 2026/2027 season, but he has no intentions of playing past 2021 because he will only make $750,000 in year 12 and $550,000 in the final five years of the deal. Does anyone believe he’ll play for the love of the game past his 39th birthday? How does the NHL allow teams and players to agree to contracts that they have no intention of honouring?

The players and their agents love this arrangement. They get 90-95% of their money in the years of the deal and then can retire without leaving much money on the table. Sure, the teams get to save money on the cap hit, but they still end up overpaying guys.

Kovalchuk will make $11.5 million in 2012/2013 to 2016/2017. In the 2012 season Kovalchuk will get paid $4 million more than Sidney Crosby and $1.5 million more than Alex Ovechkin. Are you freaking kidding me Lou Lamouriello? In five years Kovalchuk will be considered one of the worst contracts in the league, but why should Lou care, because there is a good chance he’ll be dead before this contract ends. Lou is a healthy 67, but after this signing he might be showing signs of going senile.

The CBA expires the summer of 2012, and I don’t see anyway the league will allow these types of contracts to continue, and they shouldn’t. Put a cap on the length of contracts. Make the maximum eight years, and once a player turns 31 the longest is five years. The players who are worth the money will still get their money, and even the guys who aren’t will still get overpaid, but at least then teams and the players will have to honour their contract.

I can’t believe in 19 days the Devils didn’t realize this was a bad contract. Here’s hoping the Devils continue their post-lockout success of first round exits.

UDPATE 

Here is a quote from Tom Gulitti's article (at www.northjersey.com) regarding the Kovalchuk contract. Lou Lamoriello admits he doesn't like the contract.

I asked Lamoriello what he would think if someone brought up Kovalchuk’s contract in the next round of CBA negotiations (in two years) and pointed to it as a flaw.

“I might agree,” he said. “But there is nothing that we have done wrong. This is within the rules. This is in the CBA. There are precedents that have been set. But I would agree we shouldn’t have these. But I’m also saying that because it’s legal and this is something that ownership felt comfortable doing for the right reasons.” 

It was clear that ownership—headed by Jeff Vanderbeek—was behind this particular contract. Not that Lamoriello didn’t endorse bringing Kovalchuk back.

Still, Lamoriello said he “absolutely” rolled his eyes when the Islanders signed Rick DiPietro to a 15-year contract in 2006 and when Washington signed Alex Ovechkin to a 13-year contract in 2008. He also said he “absolutely” rolled his eyes when Kovalchuk’s contract was completed.

So why would he sign Kovalchuk to such a deal?.

“You’d have to speak to ownership about that,” Lamoriello said. “The commitment that ownership has made here, this is a commitment and a decision they wanted to make for this type of a player and all I can do is say whether the player is a player that will fit into the team, can help the team and is not a risk as a player. As far as what the financial commitment is and that aspect of it, that was out of my hands.”

If one of the smartest minds in hockey doesn't like the deal, then the NHL should sit up and take notice.

Random Tidbits

  • I like how Kings’ GM, Dean Lombardi didn’t cave to Kovalchuk’s ludicrous demands and realized that cap flexibility and signing your own talent is the right path towards being a Cup contender. The Kings are still a few players away from contending, but Lombardi has the flexibility to make the right moves moving forward.
  • How many of you were writing off Dustin Penner at this time last summer? Don’t lie, most of you were, but that changed 20 games into the season when many of you were suggesting he should be on the short list for the Olympic team. Things can turn around quickly. Rather than turn most posts into Horcoff/anti-Horcoff repeats wait for the season to start.
  • This scenario was presented to me yesterday on TEAM 1260. Oilers trade Sheldon Souray to the Islanders for Brendan Witt. Gilbert Brule goes to arbitration the first week of August, and the Oilers accept whatever the arbitrator decides, and then they buy out Witt’s $3 million contract at $2 million spread out over two years. In theory it makes sense because the Islanders need to get to the floor and Souray would add $2.4 million. “This deal has some merit to it, but there hasn’t been a lot of serious talk about it,” an executive from one of the teams text me. We’ll see.
  • After the Esks third straight loss I was a bit surprised at Patrick Kabongo’s demeanor when he joked around with Darian Durant during an interview. I wasn’t the only one. Former Eskimo AJ Gass posted this at www.esksfans.com

“I question how much SOME vets on this team care about winning. For example, Durant was doing an interview 45 second after the game and who do we see jump into the screen and play a little grab ass with him while he's talking...#56 Kabongo!!!

Now I like Pat, I have really enjoyed watching him grow into a legit football player, but to me this is a serious symptom of a major problem. Pat is a vet, he is probably the highest paid OL in the league, he showed his team and the entire country what losing a game means to him. Not much. If minutes after losing your 3rd straight game and remain the only winless team in the league, you laugh, smile, and joke around with the opposing QB, you are setting a horseshit example of what it means to be an Eskimo.

For any rookie watching his behavior it shows that losing is ok.”

The Eskimos' problem is they don’t enough guys like Gass, or Bruce Beaton or Ed Hervey. Guys who play with passion and get pissed off after a loss. The Esks are better than their 0-3 record, but their high-profile players keep making key mistakes at crunch time. I wonder if they have enough winners in the dressing room to make any sort of run to the Cup. Beating Winnipeg, without Buck Pierce, and then BC next week won’t make me a believer.

  • The Boston Bruins had some of the best marketing commercials last year:

Pure gold, with the comb in the back pocket and the jersey.

How many of you have ripped your buddy for fraternizing with the enemy?

The Bear is a great mascot, and I can’t think of another team who could use their mascot and get the same results. The Sharkie in San Jose is friendly. The Duck in Anaheim is just that; a Duck. If Florida used a Black Panther it might work and the Preds could go with a Sabretooth, but both would be stretches. Kudos to the Bruins for producing the best NHL team commercials, they make the Oilers “fan picture” campaign look incredibly lame.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#101 Mitch
July 20 2010, 11:48PM
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Gregor,

Kudos on being right. You said the contract was a farce and clearly the NHL agrees with you. Regardless if they win, you were bang on. We rip you when you are wrong, so we should applaud you when you are right. Good on ya.

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#102 JackBauer
July 21 2010, 01:30AM
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So if the NHL didnt void this, whats stopping anybody from signing someone to a 29 year deal, making the cap hit infinitly small.

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#103 Doctor Unk
July 21 2010, 01:40AM
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JackBauer wrote:

So if the NHL didnt void this, whats stopping anybody from signing someone to a 29 year deal, making the cap hit infinitly small.

Why stop there? Let's sign Gagner to a 60 year extension for $90M. Then the cap hit is only $1.5M per. We'll front load it so for the final 50 years we only pay $500k, turning it into a 10yr/$65M contract (which should have a $6.5M hit)

~I see no issues with an 85 year old as our first line centre.~

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#104 R.A. Slapshotzky
July 21 2010, 01:56AM
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hahahahahhahahhahahahahah when the bear first looks at him.

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#105 RossCreekNation
July 21 2010, 06:29AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

How is Marian Hossa's different from Pronger's? Why wouldn't you use his deal as your argument.

And if he was 34 they might have, but he wasn't so that point is moot. The Flyers DON'T benefit from Pronger, thus they aren't circumventing it. They actually hurt themselves.

You can't argue a "what if" scenario. Only the facts, and the Flyers didn't circumvent the cap. They screwed themselves with a stupid deal. Sure they tried, but there weren't smart enough..tsk..tsk..

The NHL probably won't win, but it's nice to see them trying. Kovalchuk's deal was so obvious that both sides had no intentions of honouring it, it was disgusting.

OK, Gregor. But I have used Hossa. I have used Zetterberg, Franzen, Luongo. How about Keith or even Kiprusoff. All those contracts have final year(s) that are bogus to bring the cap hit down. The only differences being that Jersey was more blatant in giving 550k instead of 1M & they're doing it for 6 yrs. Yes, its wrong, but where exactly is the line? Somewhere between Hossa & Kovalchuk, I assume.

If Kovalchuk didn't exceed DiPietro's 15 yrs & brought up the final yrs of his deal to 1M instead of 550k, I don't think the league would have a leg to stand on. This however, could get interesting.

Get rid of all bogus contracts.

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#106 Reagan
July 21 2010, 06:54AM
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Good thing for the NHL to shoot down that rediculous Comrie hair pulling contract! Talk about setting the bar for stupidity. Let's all hope þhat this spills the "P" in Kovaldumps Corn Flakes and he realizes is his agents get rich quick scheme holds no merit! There is no way Kovalchuck is worth more than Crosby or Ovie!

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#107 smiliegirl15
July 21 2010, 08:16AM
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So the contract is not accepted by the powers that be. Thank goodness for that. There has to be some way to make the players accountable for performance on any contract they sign. Kovy was signed until he was 44 but has no intention of playing until he is 44 -there has to be some kind of recourse.

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#109 Bandwagon jumper
July 21 2010, 09:22AM
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Loved those freakin commercials.

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#110 Doctor Unk
July 21 2010, 09:32AM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

OK, Gregor. But I have used Hossa. I have used Zetterberg, Franzen, Luongo. How about Keith or even Kiprusoff. All those contracts have final year(s) that are bogus to bring the cap hit down. The only differences being that Jersey was more blatant in giving 550k instead of 1M & they're doing it for 6 yrs. Yes, its wrong, but where exactly is the line? Somewhere between Hossa & Kovalchuk, I assume.

If Kovalchuk didn't exceed DiPietro's 15 yrs & brought up the final yrs of his deal to 1M instead of 550k, I don't think the league would have a leg to stand on. This however, could get interesting.

Get rid of all bogus contracts.

Actually, DiPietro's 15 year deal is a $4.5M per year deal, not just the cap hit, but actual take home as well. There are no issues with a contract that is evenly weighted like this. It's the extreme front-loading that is a cause for concern.

Messier played until he was 43, Chelios is thinking of maybe retiring at 46. This is not the sort of company that Kovalchuk keeps.

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#111 Woogie
July 21 2010, 09:53AM
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Here is my piece. All 30 teams can do what the Devils tried to do. It's within the rules. Why would the NHL step in? If Edmonton, could or wanted to get in the KOVY sweepstakes we would be ok with this deal.

I say it's legit and should be allowed

EDIT: Sign comrie already!

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#112 Ryan14
July 21 2010, 10:09AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Please. Is he bigger than Brodeur was when they were winning three Cups???

Did Brodeur make that big of splash merchandise wise.

I don't think you understand how much merchandise he would need to sell to even break even on the overpaid money.

My second post wasn't about merchandising, it was about trying to increase awareness, fill the arena, increased revenue through deeper playoff appearances, and perhaps a new philosophical approach that NJ may be taking. Brodeur is nearing the end of his career. Perhaps NJ wants Kovalchuk to take over the reigns as the face of their franchise.

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#113 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
July 21 2010, 10:17AM
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I don't understand how anyone can say the Kovy deal the way it stands should be allowed. A contract needs to be signed with the intention of it being fulfilled. There is no way to predict what kovy will do after the age of 38, especially when he'll only be maiing $500 000.

The reason the Hossa contract worked was because it was only the final 4 years at 1 million and they proved that thats what a played around the age of 40ish would be getting paid anyway(recchi).

I don't think the NHL should put a cap on the term of a contract but just set an age as to when a multiple year deal can go on to, in my opinion... 38. And set the precident that after age 38 a players contract can be no longer than 3 years in length.

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#114 BingBong
July 21 2010, 10:19AM
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Woogie wrote:

Here is my piece. All 30 teams can do what the Devils tried to do. It's within the rules. Why would the NHL step in? If Edmonton, could or wanted to get in the KOVY sweepstakes we would be ok with this deal.

I say it's legit and should be allowed

EDIT: Sign comrie already!

I agree with this post. It's within the rules, and not only that but it's been done before. (Hossa being an example). The NHL knew the Hossa deal was BS, but didn't do anything, because they knew they had no case. But now they want to nix the deal?? Very Big Brotherish. I agree these contracts are ridiculous, and against the spirit of the cap, but the league only has themselves to blame for that. They should wait 'til the next CBA is up to complain.

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#115 Stone Hands McOsta
July 21 2010, 10:42AM
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Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement wrote:

With long term conracts being all the rage in the NHL these days, I wonder how long it will take before we start seeing these types of deals with young players. Ovechkin is really the only player under the age of 27 to recieve a contract over 10 years, and it wasn't even front loaded. Duncan Keith might be the best example being 27 with a 13 year contract with a cap hit of 5.5.

I bring this up in relation to a player like Sam Gagner. We don't know exactly what he is capable of, but with 3 seasons under his belt at the age of 21 would it be out of question to think he could be putting up 60+ point seasons for years to come... and who knows maybe he'll put in a few 80, 90 point seasons? But in any case, why not offer Gagner lets say a 18 year deal for 75 million, Thats a cap hit of only 4.6mil/season. Would Gagner be able to turn down a basicly guarenteed 75 million, and from the Oilers side wouldnt that be one hell of a value contract(if we could see 10+ years possibly of 60+point production for a 4.6 cap hit would be a value contract in my mind) for a player who is still 4-5 years away from even starting his prime.

If we can agree that the way to build a Stanley Cup contending team is dependant on the "value contracts" then why not try and secure some value contracts in the young players we are building around now.

I'm not saying I agree with the crazy long term deals be handed out these days, but right now they are the best way to get around the hard cap and decrease the cap hit and when will the Oilers start using it to their advantage as other NHL teams have started to do.

There is a lot of people saying this is a disgrace to the CBA, but like Soft Hands is saying here, what is stopping the Oilers from making a mockery of it themselves? Wouldn't be the first time we make a joke of leagues rules...

We are clearly going to have an issue on our hands when Sammy, Hall, MP & Eberle all need contracts mean while Shawn "give me another ($7mil) chance" Horcoff's front loaded disaster of a contract is still on the books.

The Oilers seem to embarrass themselves time & time again with offer sheets, trades that fall through and horrible contracts dished out to guys they are worried will flee town. So, how about tossing the sure-fire prospects the dough to stick around and let the older guys who are past their development stage fight it out for the short term deals amongst themselves? This would bring competition amongst the vet's to battle out that assurance of a roster spot.

Why not take a new approach like the rest of the league is doing? Why not offer Sam a 20 year 80 mil deal? With a rainbow hook of a contract like Kovy's yet not as intense of a drop on the back end? Lock these guys up long term, and by long term I don't mean 7 year long term, I want a couple decades, long term...then Edmonton gets around the issue of worrying about the cap, and the worries of these young guys fleeing Edmonton will be out of sight.

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#116 MattL
July 21 2010, 10:54AM
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"If Florida used a Black Panther it might work"

Uh, what kind of Black Panther are you talking about, exactly?

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#118 mrb
July 21 2010, 11:00AM
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To prevent this from happening again, in the next CBA they could do like the NBA and put a limit to the number of years, if the PA agrees, which is unlikely. Or have the minimum salary that a player earns in any one season cannot be less than half the maximum salary the player will earn in any one season during the length of the contract. In other words, if Kovalchuk earns $12 million in any one season under the length of the contract, he cannot earn less than $6 million in any other season during the length of the contract. This could put an end to the front end-loading of contracts.

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#119 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
July 21 2010, 11:09AM
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mrb wrote:

To prevent this from happening again, in the next CBA they could do like the NBA and put a limit to the number of years, if the PA agrees, which is unlikely. Or have the minimum salary that a player earns in any one season cannot be less than half the maximum salary the player will earn in any one season during the length of the contract. In other words, if Kovalchuk earns $12 million in any one season under the length of the contract, he cannot earn less than $6 million in any other season during the length of the contract. This could put an end to the front end-loading of contracts.

The only issue with this is that a 41 year old player would/should be making 1 mil/season, so if you have a long term deal going into or close to a players 40's, shouldn't the amount payed in that year be close to reality?

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#120 Milli
July 21 2010, 11:09AM
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Actualy my first post was 2 part, re-read it. This is a gross over pay, and seems even Lou agrees. Second, we lost hockey for a year for cost certanty, I wish that the ticket buyer was thought of. I understand your why sell for $100 if you can get $150 crap, pretty basic, but, how about do these players need 10 or 11 million.....How many jerseys does he sell...he isn't Crosby or Ovie....hell he is't Toews...Is he in the top 10, I say NO>

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#121 BingBong
July 21 2010, 11:10AM
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mrb wrote:

To prevent this from happening again, in the next CBA they could do like the NBA and put a limit to the number of years, if the PA agrees, which is unlikely. Or have the minimum salary that a player earns in any one season cannot be less than half the maximum salary the player will earn in any one season during the length of the contract. In other words, if Kovalchuk earns $12 million in any one season under the length of the contract, he cannot earn less than $6 million in any other season during the length of the contract. This could put an end to the front end-loading of contracts.

These are good ideas, but like you say, why would the NHLPA agree to these terms? They're still mad from the last lockout/strike/whatever. I guess it's time to prepare for another lost season or two...

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I've read so many conspiracy stories on the Kovalchuk contract and with Lou saying he doesn't like it I have to wonder if the NHL and Lou have a deal of their own. Maybe this is the opening for the NHL to get rid of these contracts? Why else does a GM come out right away and say he doesn't like it?

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#123 Geoff
July 21 2010, 12:46PM
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You're kind of racist hey?

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#124 Quicksilver ballet
July 21 2010, 12:56PM
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Geoff wrote:

You're kind of racist hey?

For one weekend of the year we are....are you going to the race as well?

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#125 Ryan14
July 21 2010, 02:52PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

My point is with Brodeur and all their championships they never sold out every game. Why do you think Kovalchuk will do better? Sure he becomes the face of the franchise, but he won't promote the team/game better than Brodeur and Scott Stevens. It's a bad signing. He isn't worth over nine million a year, which is what they would have paid him for first ten years.

agree to disagree?

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#127 MattL
July 21 2010, 11:22PM
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"Chris Drury (New York Rangers) $8.05 million "

LOL hard.

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