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102 million dollars, but it’s about the Stanley Cup

It never ceases to make me shake my head. An athlete signs for ridiculously large, stunningly absurd, amounts of money (see any NBA contract over the past ten years). Then he turns around and says, essentially, it wasn’t about the money, it was about the chance to “win” or something along those lines.

Ilya Kovalchuk probably had a better deal months ago with Atlanta (what was it, 100 million over ten years?) but thought he could get even more. So he gets (until the NHL stepped in) the same amount spread over more years.

Does it really matter?

Here’s the thing that makes no sense. Wasn’t Lou Lamoriello—undisputably successful as GM of the Devils for 20+ years—oneof the NHL management guys who supported the lockout years ago because the league had to control costs and stop handing out ridiculous contracts?

Now here he is, supposedly the smartest of the bunch, offering a player a 17 year deal.

Did the Rick DiPietro contract not wake anyone up?

I was among those who thought the players needed to take some steps back in the last collective bargaining agreement. The whole messy affair cost the league (and fans) an entire season, but it looked like the league was serious about trying to control costs, though some of the contract elements were still give-aways to the players.

But the owners haven’t learned a thing.

As I’ve said before, I’ve always enjoyed watching Kovalchuk. Talented guy. Great scorer’s touch. He can be a game-breaker and has rare offensive skills.

But c’mon. 102 million? Is this the NBA?

My guess is the Devils will rue the day they signed this (or some future) deal with Kovalchuk. Will they sell more tickets? Maybe some. More importantly, they won’t win a Cup with him. Brodeur was one of the best goalies in hockey for years, but his window is fast closing. And we should make no mistake, with all due respect to the defensive “trap” employed by the Devils and some great players like Scott Stevens, et al, Brodeur was the central reason the Devils have won Cups- and have stayed competitive even when their team has been in decline in recent years.

The league best not try to cry poor again the next time they bargain with the players.

Whatever gets re-worked now, as far as a contract for Kovalchuk, the message has been sent. The owners, to use former Boston’s GM’s oft-quoted expression of some years ago, have “capitulated” once again.

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