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The Kovalchuk Saga Continues

Ilya Kovalchuk

(Saed Hindash/The Star-Ledger)

It may be the NHLPA’s job to look out for their players, but sometimes all player’s associations, hockey or any other, needs to get a reality check.

When Ilya Kovalchuk signed a 17-year deal to stay with the New Jersey Devils, it immediately became a topic of debate, whether or not it was a way to get around the salary cap, or if it was just a way to keep Kovalchuck under contract for an amount of time he really wanted to play.

While long deals are uncommon in most other sports, it is not as bad as it seems in Hockey. Good NFL players tend to retire between the ages of 30-35. While some guys, like Brett Favre, play for years after that age range, most good players have a career lasting around 12 years. NBA players can tend to last until that age as well, as do the majority of baseball players. But Hockey is a different breed of sports. It’s not rare at all to see guys who are 38 be top players on their respective teams.

No team in the NFL would think twice about signing a player to a 13 year deal, but the Washington Capitals were more than willing to sign Alexander Ovechkin, who was 22-year-old at the time, to a 13-year deal. But even then, at the end of the contract, he would be 35, meaning he very well could be looking to sign another contract before he retires.

But it doesn’t matter how young a player may be, and in this case Kovalchuk is 24, a 17 year contract just seems ludicrous. He may have talent, a lot of talent, but when the player is going to be 44 at the end of his contract it is quite clear that the team negotiating the deal is just looking to lower their annual cap hit with several extra years of low pay tacked onto the end of the deal.

I give props to the NFL for actually rejecting this deal, and I’m not surprised at all that the player’s association is filing a grievance on the rejection, but at some point the players association is going to have to realize that deals like these as hurting the league, thus it’s players, more than it helps. It may help one guy get paid. But that is going to lead to more and more players comparing these deals to them and demanding more money.

While these deals do leave more room for other players to be given more money because it lowers the salary cap hit, it will trickle down and hurt more support players than the superstars it benefits.

Take the NBA for example. While I personally love the two-tier flexible salary cap that the NBA has in place, more and more players are being forced to sign for the league minimum as more and more superstars are getting more money.

Eventually the room runs out. With more players being paid superstar money, more players have to take “scrub” money, which will eventually make for less talent on teams.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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