Kovalchoke and the salary cap
November 12, 2010 10:01 PM   Subscribe

100 million just doesn't get what it used to... Ilya Kovalchuk becomes the poster boy for irony in the NHL.

You may or may not know that there's a salary cap in the NHL that's negotiated every year. It's been the subject of controversy in the past. This year, the New Jersey Devils kind of side stepped the cap by signing Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17 year contract which would get him 102 million over the course of it.

Unfortunately, Kovalchuk is currently scoring -1, and everyone is staring to wonder what that money was spent on. and then this happened. And now it's highlighting the question who is worth that kind of money?
posted by lumpenprole (55 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know hockey and I don't get what's happening in "and then this happened." What happened?
posted by LSK at 10:09 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did you guys actually watch the video before bitching? You know, to the end?

Kovalchuk lost the puck in the middle of a shoot-out, batting it behind himself.

Think tripping over ones shoelaces, dribbling a ball onto your shoe or scoring a goal on your own net. It's a rookie mistake that you'd laugh at a five year old for doing.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 10:19 PM on November 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


well, it's pretty obvious what "happened" - but, really, it's only irony in a Alanis Morissette kind of way. Really, it's just a bunch of stupid money put to stupid use.
posted by victors at 10:20 PM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


What happened? how is irony formed?

The guy totally flubbed one shot in a game at the beginning of the season (granted, an important one in the context of the game in question), which is apparently a perfect indicator of what the rest of his season - and the rest of his career - will be like. This one mistake clearly shows that he'll never be able to hit the puck again.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:24 PM on November 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


Kovalchuk lost the puck in the middle of a shoot-out, batting it behind himself.

Aha. I take it this is a silly error to make from someone who makes 102 million dollars. For all I know the puck is supposed to do that.

I can't see how it affects what players earn though, who else should have the money? the owners, for being owners? cheaper tickets for fans, what? In any sport you make mistakes, sometimes you hit a hurdle even if 99% of the time you make it over, that doesn't mean you aren't one of the best hurdle runner type people in the world.
posted by shinybaum at 10:26 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


He lost control of the puck in a shootout and people are freaking out. He signed a huge gajillion dollar contract in the offseason that goes longer than most players' entire careers. There's a discussion to be had about Kovalchuk and Luongo and Hossa's contracts, but the fact he's become this albatross because he's off to a not-great start is just people overreacting (we're not even 20 games into an 82 game season). He's on a new team that plays a different style of hockey and the team hasn't had an elite sniper in recent memory--it might take a bit of time for things to come together. Also, a lot of the NHL's top goal-scorers are only so-so in the shootout. A lot of people screw up in the shootout, miss the puck, lose control, fall down, etc.
posted by Hoopo at 10:31 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


>I don't know hockey and I don't get what's happening in "and then this happened." What happened?

>>What happened?


Here's a slight hint for those who listen carefully.

I'm not a hockey fan and therefore probably shouldn't be so invested in this, but sweet fuck do I hate the shoot-out thing.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:32 PM on November 12, 2010


It's not just $100 million, it was the fact that it was in a front loaded 17 year contract (longest in NHL history) specifically designed to get around the salary cap, and subsequently deemed illegal by the league. Still pretty weak sauce for FPP material though, if you ask me. Maybe if I was a Devils fan, or really delighted in seeing them squirm, them I suppose I could find this interesting. Other than that, meh.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:37 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


i don't get sports. especially organized, professional sports. they're doing it wrong.

I'm with you, bub.

Except curling. I can watch curling for hours and hours on end. The week of The Brier there's literally 9 hours of curling on TV each day for six days straight. Well, forget about it. I call that my "Lost Week."
posted by i_have_a_computer at 10:40 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought we were supposed to be doing less of this thread shitting when you just couldn't care less anyway thing... If you don't care, go to some other thread and be happier.
posted by Chuckles at 10:45 PM on November 12, 2010 [40 favorites]


I am interested, I thought something exciting had happened but it seems to be something common in hockey with money attached. The illegality is still interesting though, sports are so corrupt and incestuous they make soap opera reading even when they're cycling forums quite mundane.
posted by shinybaum at 10:51 PM on November 12, 2010


I just want to take this opportunity to offer my goal-flubbing services for the bargain basement price of 50 million dollars. Devils, call me!
posted by JaredSeth at 10:57 PM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be fair, it's far from Bill Buckner in the '86 World Series as crucial moments go, but it's remarkable to some extent for the bare fact of it.

This isn't like missing an easy field goal in that one kind of football or whacking a free kick way over the net in the other one; I've been watching hockey since I was a preschooler worshipping Guy Lafleur in the '70s and I have never once seen a pro miss a penalty shot by flubbing his stickhandling 20 feet out.

Guys fan on shots, get pucks caught in skates as they make their move on the goalie, fire snapshots way wide. But simply losing the plot to the point where the stickhandling gets away from you at the top of the face-off circle? Yeah, that'd be an all-time highlight-reel flub even if the dude wasn't making nine figures.
posted by gompa at 11:02 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don Cherry will use this as yet another example of why only white, English-speaking Canadians should play in the NHL.
posted by grounded at 11:15 PM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aha. I take it this is a silly error to make from someone who makes 102 million dollars. For all I know the puck is supposed to do that.

Why are you commenting in this thread?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:24 PM on November 12, 2010 [17 favorites]


He didn't have to score, just actually shoot the puck in some forward direction. Then we could all keep pretending that hockey means anything other than $9 beers and nerds who don't have the decency to talk about something awesome like rock music or video games.
posted by dobie at 11:33 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


BREAKING: Kovalchuk worth bazillions again
posted by gompa at 11:38 PM on November 12, 2010


Sports management isnt any different from any other business. All sorts of dirty, underhanded, and flat out illegal stuff is done because the payout is greater than thr risk.

And really, its the fans who are so invested (emotionally and/or financially) who suffer.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:02 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


How does this strategy work? Is it extensible -- could a team give a player a 500-year contract that they wouldn't really have to pay out, but that would let them pay a super-high salary for a couple of years?
posted by pracowity at 12:19 AM on November 13, 2010


Why is there a salary cap?
posted by fullerine at 12:23 AM on November 13, 2010


Because...
When the NHL ushered in the salary cap in 2005, the benefits were obvious. In order to survive, the league needed cost-certainty. Both a ceiling and a floor were established for team payrolls, creating a far-more competitive landscape.

Look no further than the first-round matchup between Nashville and Detroit in the 2004 playoffs to see the absurd disparity that once existed. The Predators managed to ice a team for a grand total of $23 million dollars that season. The Red Wings? They were shelling out a whopping $80 million bucks.

However, the cap does have its clear downfalls. [...]
posted by pracowity at 12:28 AM on November 13, 2010


Ever since Stephens' playoff cheap shot on Lindros, I will never forgive the Devils. So I approve of this post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:33 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stevens, that is.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:34 AM on November 13, 2010


In association football it is a well know fact that deciding a game by penalty kicks is often unsatisfying for the audience. In the Dutch national team multi-millionaire players that have shown themselves to be magicians with the ball have fumbled inconceivably at decisive moments. Apparently penalty kicks are much more about the mental game of keeping your cool even when one second will decide whether your whole nation will hate you for bruising their ego.
Without knowing anything about hockey a shoot off looks a bit similar to a penalty kick.
I remember hearing the coach of the US bowling team talk about this. Apparently bowling is largely a mental game and hardly an athletic game. According to this coach the trick is not to feel that everything will be lost when you fail. But to do your utmost to do it right but feel that it goes wrong life will go on.
Or maybe Dutch football millionaires are just fickle prima donnas.
There's that possibility too.
posted by joost de vries at 12:43 AM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ever since Stevens' playoff cheap shot on Lindros, I will never forgive the Devils. So I approve of this post.

That was a clean hit. And are you defending Lindros as a Flyers fan? Because I didn't think Flyers fans ever defended Lindros.
posted by inigo2 at 12:45 AM on November 13, 2010


Or maybe Dutch football millionaires are just fickle prima donnas.

Both could be true :)
posted by inigo2 at 12:46 AM on November 13, 2010


That was a clean hit

It's a bit tougher to call than the CBC would like to admit, IMO. Stevens' elbow was up a little. He certainly didn't stop even though the guy had his head down. Anyway, anything that puts a spotlight on the Devils like this is something I read slowly and savor.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 AM on November 13, 2010


Apparently penalty kicks are much more about the mental game of keeping your cool even when one second will decide whether your whole nation will hate you for bruising their ego.

After one of the many tournaments in which England have lost to Germany on penalties I remember reading a Guardian story claiming a number of the English players were horrified that the German players actually practised taking and saving penalties as though it was important a skill as modelling the next season's shirts.
posted by rodgerd at 1:10 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a lovely thing to see the Devils -- the team that ruined hockey with its neutral-zone trap -- floundering like this.

The only thing sweeter than a Devils loss is a Leafs loss.
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:26 AM on November 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


Everyone makes mistakes like this every once in a while, who cares?
posted by delmoi at 1:30 AM on November 13, 2010


> The only thing sweeter than a Devils loss is a Leafs loss.

So life is always sweet, then?
posted by scruss at 5:27 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


For all I know the puck is supposed to do that.

My word. Surely you know that the desired end result is to get the little black thing in the net that the guy with all the huge armor on is guarding?
posted by King Bee at 5:49 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


A lot of the whining about professional sports on this thread sounds exactly like athletes making fun of the 'Queer-y' theater guy.

Since I did theater and played hockey in high school and college, I get a bit irritated at the 'your (favorite activity, hobby etc...) is null because I don't find it interesting' act. It's all a bit high school, to me.

Also, this is FPP, since there are real consequences to spending so much money on one human being.
posted by glaucon at 6:00 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Things that are wrong with this video:

(1) Kovalchuk forgets how to stick handle;
(2) The shoot-out deciding regular season games (ugh!);
(3) The (sometimes) three-point game and;
(4) American hockey announcers, those guys are just the worst

/rant
posted by redspraypaint at 6:36 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


For all I know the puck is supposed to do that.

Perhaps this post would be causing less confusion if it were about Quidditch.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:38 AM on November 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I heard someone talking about the shot so when I watched the video I knew what was going to happen...and yet my heart still sank a bit when I actually saw it. Everyone makes mistakes, but Kovalchuk is going to be seeing this one over and over again for a loooong time. I think my favorite part is the announcer saying "I don't think I've ever seen that".
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:39 AM on November 13, 2010


This post prompted me to go looking for footage of Jim Marshall running 66 yards the wrong way with a recovered fumble and inflicting a safety on his own team when he thought he was scoring a touchdown. It is the ignominious record shortest run in National Football League history.

I found it. Jim Marshall runs the wrong way.

(Ultimately the Vikings won the game and Marshall had a distinguished career.)
posted by bukvich at 6:40 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


nathancaswell: Perhaps this post would be causing less confusion if it were about Quidditch.

Quidditch? He's on the Panthers, right?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:41 AM on November 13, 2010


The guy totally flubbed one shot in a game at the beginning of the season (granted, an important one in the context of the game in question), which is apparently a perfect indicator of what the rest of his season - and the rest of his career - will be like. This one mistake clearly shows that he'll never be able to hit the puck again.

This. I mean, Kovalchuk made himself a target with this paycheck, but a huge paycheck doesn't make someone a perfect robot.

The only thing sweeter than a Devils loss is a Leafs loss.

Don't make me come up there.
posted by biscotti at 6:52 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I watched this live. I kind of dislike the Devils and the Sabres both, so I was trying to decide who to pull for during the shootout, and I almost didn't believe what I was seeing. I didn't realize it was Kovalchuck shooting until it was over, and when he whiffed and I noticed the name on the back of his sweater I couldn't help but laugh in disbelief. It was too perfect, knowing the Devils' struggles to get his contract approved, and then their horrible start to this season.
posted by statolith at 7:03 AM on November 13, 2010


How does this strategy work? Is it extensible -- could a team give a player a 500-year contract that they wouldn't really have to pay out, but that would let them pay a super-high salary for a couple of years?

Well, there were several NHL contracts recently that were starting to push into the area of ridiculous in that respect. Then the Devils came around and took it one step further and the NHL punished them for it (three million dollar fine I think and loss of a 1st round draft pick) so the line is pretty much drawn now. Not that it matters anyway since everything can change when they renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement with the player's union in a couple years.

I did have a good guffaw when Kovalchuck muffed that shootout attempt though. Also, enjoy Jason Arnott's unavoidable 30 missed games from concussion Devils fans!
posted by ghharr at 7:22 AM on November 13, 2010


* Bum bum bum bum bum, Bum bum bum bum bum, ... *
posted by pracowity at 7:24 AM on November 13, 2010


[mess of comments removed by all three mods, if the only comment you have to make is "who cares" or related nuggets, please go to the MetaTalk thread, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 7:33 AM on November 13, 2010


(4) American hockey announcers, those guys are just the worst

Are you counting John Davidson? I've often wondered if my lack of attention to those Rangers when he left for St. Louis was coincidental or what. I still love that guy.
posted by mintcake! at 7:53 AM on November 13, 2010


He's actually -8 and averaging about .56 PPG. Not too good. I think Kovy's having some problems fitting into the Devils. John MacLean supposedly wasn't crazy about the signing, no surprise as getting Kovalchuk to do anything but score goals (ie backcheck) has got to be difficult. He's still one of the best pure snipers in the league though. He'll put up the numbers.
posted by Alex Voyd at 10:17 AM on November 13, 2010


Unlike Ovechkin, Kovalchuck is not a maximum guy.
posted by entropone at 10:59 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I should say, as the originator of this thread, that I used to hate the Devils for the neutral zone trap, but I feel pity for them now. I'm kind of rooting for them to pull out of this.

But I'm more interested in how this will affect salary cap negotiations in the future. I'm a hockey fan, but I'm also in the camp of being disgusted at how much all pro athletes get paid, and I thought the salary cap was a decent compromise.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:15 AM on November 13, 2010


Alvy: sweet fuck do I hate the shoot-out thing.

This. And I note other people saying the same thing. So all that stuff about how this improves a game for the fans is BS. All these attempts to make hockey more exciting are really wrong-headed. Now they're talking about wider blue lines so there will be fewer offsides. Leave the game alone.
Football/soccer fans: Shoot-outs are evil, right? Penalty kicks are a different animal.
American football fans: Suppose every tie game were decided by a shoot-out type contest? Say kicking field goals from further and further out. Nobody on the field but the kicker.
posted by CCBC at 12:03 PM on November 13, 2010


I grew up with hockey (liked the Broad Street Bullies), saw the video and wondered about the rule, assumed he could not have swooped around, regained control of the puck.

NHL sez: "The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete."

If he or someone else whiffs, loses control of the puck--and it continues toward the goal--it seems to say the player could regain control and carry on.

The rule does not say "kept in control and motion...."

I wonder what would happen if someone intentionally whiffed (to fake out the goalie) as the puck continued in motion toward the goal and then took the shot.
posted by ambient2 at 12:24 PM on November 13, 2010


The shootout is great. No games should end in ties, and you aren't going to do unlimited overtime in the regular season.

Now 3 point games.. That is an abomination! Also, the 5 minutes of 4 on 4 is pretty dumb.

I wish they'd let goalies handle the puck again...
posted by Chuckles at 3:27 PM on November 13, 2010


Am I allowed to make remarks on salary caps in here if I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of hockey? y/n
posted by tehloki at 4:20 PM on November 13, 2010


Chuckles: "The shootout is great. No games should end in ties, and you aren't going to do unlimited overtime in the regular season.

Now 3 point games.. That is an abomination! Also, the 5 minutes of 4 on 4 is pretty dumb.

I wish they'd let goalies handle the puck again..
"

Can't agree with you here; you're telling me that after 65 minutes of hockey, you'd rather the game be settled by a skills competition? No thanks. End it after 60 if it's tied after 60, and save the overtime for the playoffs. Won't happen, of course.

On-topic, however, put me firmly in the camp that had a good laugh when seeing this?
posted by andrewcilento at 7:16 PM on November 13, 2010


It's a lovely thing to see the Devils -- the team that ruined hockey with its neutral-zone trap -- floundering like this.

When the Devils were winning with the trap, they still had to score, and did so with some regularity and a modicum of panache (see Richer, Elias, Sykora, Guerin, Gomez, Holik, etc). Add in one of the best goaltenders ever, and I'd argue they were exciting in their own way. If you want to blame someone for "ruining" hockey, blame the teams that took what Jersey did and figured out they could obscure large, steaming piles of mediocrity by simply clogging center ice and hoping for a lucky bounce (i.e. the Florida Panthers).

- - -That was a clean hit - - - It's a bit tougher to call than the CBC would like to admit...

No, it's really not a tough call. Clean hit.

As to Mr. Kovalchuck, I was giddy when the Devils picked him up last year. But when it was clear he was struggling to fit into the system, I fully expected them to let him go during the off season. Reading about the bazillion-dollar multi-decade laugher of deal they gave him, I immediately began to steel myself with a variety of coping mechanisms coupled with healthy doses of denial to survive what so far has shaped up into exactly the season I expected months before a puck dropped.
posted by jalexei at 8:22 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


For any casual/non hockey fans who LOL'd a bit at Kovalchuk's shootout failture: Dennis Wideman "crazylegs it".

I watched this video right when he was traded to the Bruins, and several times over the years he was here, and for the life of me I just cannot figure out how, physically, that happened.

Also, on the flip side, there's been unexpected goals as well. Marek Malik's 15th round goal a few years ago was hilariously awesome. Malik is a big doofy defenseman who no one thought could beat the goalie, let alone with such puckhandling.

I think the funnier part of the Kovalchuk signing is that the Devils couldn't ice a full four lines because of it. I'm reasonably sure that's the first time that's happened, at least since I've been watching hockey. It should be interesting to watch to see if that happens more and more often with the creative contracts rising in popularity.
posted by kpht at 8:23 PM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the funnier part of the Kovalchuk signing is that the Devils couldn't ice a full four lines because of it. I'm reasonably sure that's the first time that's happened, at least since I've been watching hockey. It should be interesting to watch to see if that happens more and more often with the creative contracts rising in popularity.

I think the Flames had to do that for a few games a couple years ago.
posted by ghharr at 11:31 AM on November 14, 2010


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