Thursday, January 10, 2008


Alexander Ovechkin is Richkin, Bitchkin!

by Jes

So, the bomb has dropped and Alex "1d8" Ovechkin is now the proud signer of the most lucrative contract in NHL contract. $124mil over 13 seasons. Yes, 13!!! Alexei Yashin must be fuming in a jealous rage right about now.

Now, any time you start talking about a contract for 10+ years, you are pretty much going into insanity territory. Locking yourself to a player for that long of a period just has so many fricking risks, and we've seen how such contracts have blown up on the teams that signed them. Alexei Yashin, Rick DiPietro (it will), and Alex Rodriguez (who wiggled his way out to get more $..geezus).

Of course, Alexander Ovechkin is one of two rare talents that you could consider signing to such a deal and not be considered to be smoking BC's finest export plant. (If you can't figure out the other player, please put on a tinfoil hat so we know who you are)

When two parties sign a contract, both parties *should* assume half of the risk if the contract is truly a fair one.

In this case? The vast majority of the risk is with the Capitals.

"But Jes, Ovechkin could have earned like $15mil a season if he had waited"

That's valid, but Ovechkin, barring a Capitals bankrupcy, is guaranteed to make $124 million!! No matter what happens to him tomorrow, he'll be set for life. When you get those kind of numbers, what else do you have to worry about? Male-pattern baldness?

What if 1d8 gets injured himself next week, or gets paralyzed in a car accident next month and can't play again, or has to retire due to concussions some time down the road? No matter what, Ovechkin is going to make more than me, you, and all the visitors to this site combined for our entire lifetimes.

"But Jes, Ovechkin may be caught with a crappy team for the next 15 years, thanks to him eating up a mondo chunk of cap space"

The risk that the Caps could suck is valid, but I expect the Caps will eventually make a regime change and not suck the entire 13 seasons. Ovechkin obviously likes where he is, or he'd bolt the first chance he got. Forget all of these dumb rumours you hear about unhappy he is in Washington. It's obvious he's having a blast.

The fact is that the risk is really with the Capitals.

1. Look at Ovechkin's style of play. Doesn't he remind you of Pavel Bure? Bure was a dynamic goal scorer with an edge, and paid for it big time. Bure's knees are basically dust.

What happens if Ovechkin runs into a string of injury problems? Guys like Bure, Forsberg, Neely, and possibly Ovechkin, have shorter shelf lifes than the guys who hold back a bit on the physical play.

2. What happens when the North American economy collapses, and people can't afford to pay insane prices for tickets? What happens if overall NHL revenues tank? Then the Caps are stuck paying a very high salary no matter what happens.

3. 13 years is a fricking long time ... longer than most career. Ovechkin is already in his third season. If he finishes this contract, he'll have played 16 seasons. To perform at such a high level for such a long time is a rare feat, indeed. Bobby Orr couldn't do it, and Mario Lemieux certainly miss a lot of time during his trek.

Now, I understand perfectly why the Caps did what they did, and I don't think it's as god-awful as what the Isles did, but any such long deal certainly has more risk than reward. Look at what happened when the Caps signed Jaromir Jagr to a long-term expensive deal? I figured they'd be more careful after that.

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Aren't there a couple of other players in the league currently with 10-plus year contracts as well (the names escape me, but one is a goalie for the Isles, and the other plays for the Phlyers)?...Geez, those contracts are longer than what Michael Vick or A-Rod got...
While it certainly is a risky deal, there's absolutely no way you can compare Ovechkin to Lemieux (who had cancer) or Jagr (who IS a cancer). Ovechkin has shown incredible durability so far, missed only 1 game in his career, so the Caps just have to hope that is a trend that holds up for the bulk of the contract, and not something that will make him fragile down the road.
1) We blogged on this subject today as well. Asking whether Mr. Wang is a visionary as owners are now imitating him.
2) Is the other 'rare talent' who derserves to get a 10+ year deal Dion Phaneuf? ; )
3) Of course the bottom line is no one knows if these deals will end up being good or foolish investments. Only time will tell. We agree that Ovechkin's playing style could very well eventually lead to injury, especially as he ages. Hopefully for the caps and NHL's sake he's more durable than the Russian Rocket
Who am I?

1992-93 Buffalo Sabres

76goals 51assists 127points?
Alexander "mood ring" Mogilny

Fortunately, Ovechkin has 100x the passion for the game than Mogilny ever did.
By the way, if overall revenue falls, CBA has provisions to ensure that players do not get more than 54% (if it falls below $2.2B, right now I believe it's at 55 or more% because revenue is high). In other words, all players would have to cough up more back to the owners through money withheld at escrow, to ensure cost certainty as the owners achieved in the last labour stoppage.
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