Friday, August 27, 2010
As The Hockey World Turns
Kovalchuk and his group have already made it pretty obvious that, while playing for a contender would be nice, becoming one of the highest paid NHL players, second only to Ovechkin, is what they are really looking for. Its this desire to stay as close to $100mil+ line as possible that forced Lou Lamoriello to extend this contract to infinity and beyond to make it anywhere near affordable to the club, and forced the league to act against its signing.
He is a great skater and one of the greatest snipers the league has seen. But his overall game is nowhere near that of Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, and Thorton, and his paycheck shouldn't be near theirs, either. Ilya has yet to demonstrate that he can be the heart and soul of a hockey club. He might develop into that player on the right team, but you don't get paid $100mil for what you might do, you get it for what you have done, night after night.
Bettman and the league did the right thing in drawing a line in the sand and putting the kibosh on such a ludicrous contract. It was one of the few acts of common sense I've seen from the NHL in the 25+ years I've been following hockey. Hopefully they continue to stick to their guns on this one and not give into the "or elses" of Kovalchuk's camp. Losing such a gifted goal scorer would be a blow to the league for sure, but the alternative is to further destabilize a league that is already teetering on the edge with another possible work stoppage, failing franchises, and public perception problems.