If you're someone that believes life is without coincidence, than the fact that Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby (12 years) and Los Angeles Kings playoff MVP Jonathan Quick (10 years) both had their contracts announced on the eve of the first Collective Bargaining Agreement talks between the NHL and the NHLPA must seem quite calculated.
Both contracts had their detractors. In Crosby's case, it ranged from those wary about his injury history to others who misguidedly think he did his NHLPA brethren a disservice by maintaining an $8.7 million cap hit. In Quick's case, it's the fact that other long-term contracts for goaltenders haven't exactly panned out.
You can argue the logic of signing these players to those contracts, but that's a separate issue than the one that will be debated during the CBA talks:
Should teams still be allowed to offer 10-plus contracts to retain their talent, or should there be limits on contract length for the betterment of the League?
Keep in mind that long-term contracts don't always mean front-loaded, casually cap circumventing deals like we've seen maligned for the last few years. It's one thing to pay Tyler Myers $3 million in 2018 because you started him off at $12 million in 2012. It's another to sign Christian Ehrhoff to a 10-year free-agent deal and pay him $1 million at age 37 to bring the hit down.
Again, the issue here is whether a team should be able to give Myers seven years or Ehrhoff 10 years. Yahoo! Sports' Nick Cotsonika writes that the owners want to limit contracts to six-year terms at a maximum.
I've written about this before, and I'll say it again: The idea that a team can't sign a player to any contract length they mutually agree upon — having scouted, drafted, developed, coached, managed and marketed this player — is ludicrous. It's about protecting investments and stability in their markets. The Sidney Crosby contract is the best example of this; so is Alex Ovechkin's contract with the Washington Capitals, which gave the franchise a foundation on which to build its fan base.
The Ovechkin contract, in hindsight, is overpriced, given where the market and his own numbers have gone. But if it was a mistake, it's one that the Capitals should be allowed to make.
(Bourne had a different perspective on players signing long-term deals that's worth a read.)
If the notion is that long-term deals prevent player movement in the NHL, and that parity thrives on dispersal of talent, I can understand that argument. But ask Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and (soon) Roberto Luongo if a long-term contract is portable.
I wanted to put this topic out there for debate at the dawn of the CBA talks, because I think there's a disconnect between what the NHL and its owners want in long-term deals and what fans see as being best for the League.
I think all parties agree that cap circumventing contracts aren't palatable — although close that loophole, and inventive GMs will find another — but I imagine fans would be, by and large, in favor of contract that's go beyond a 6-year term.
What say you on a 6-year term limit for contracts, or long-term deals in general?
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- Sidney Crosby
- Pittsburgh Penguins