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?

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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.

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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?.

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“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.

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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.