For the next decade, a Flyers-Islanders matchup will serve as a constant reminder of why NHL players, especially goaltenders, should not be signed to long-term contracts.
Incidentally, neither Rick DiPietro nor Ilya Bryzgalov started Thursdays game for those two guys thats 24 years at 118 million wrapped up in a position that is perhaps one of the most volatile in sports. So lets outline why these long-term contracts should be outlawed once the NHL and the Players' Association agree on a new CBA:
REASON NO. 1 - GUARANTEED MONEY
If Bryzgalov spends the rest of his career in Glen Falls, NY... 51 million. If Bryzgalov fantasizes about a career in astronomy... 51 million.
The fact that the money is guaranteed doesnt guarantee anything in return when it comes to the investment. Contracts are insured in the event of injury, but theres no insurance against poor, inconsistent play. The NHL should consult the NFL on this matter.
REASON NO. 2 - INJURIES
Take DiPietro, who inked a 15-year, 67.5 million deal in July 2006. In the history of the NHL you can count the number of netminders on one hand who have played at a very-high level over a period of at least ten years. DiPietro will never live up to the hype after being selected No. 1 overall in the draft and this contract was an albatross from the day he agreed to it. Injuries have plagued his career -- from a concussion, to a torn labrum, to surgery on his left knee, to surgery on his right knee, to most recently a groin injury. These setbacks alone have crippled the Islanders financially and with the salary cap.
REASON NO. 3 - COMPLACENCY
This was my fear when Mike Richards and Jeff Carter signed their huge deals. It was like handing them the keys to the kingdom. Young and rich and the world at your fingertips. Sometimes, its too much, too soon. Long-term contracts can promote complacency. Theres no reason to prove yourself for that next contract when this is the only contract youll ever need. Money will always be the primary motivating factor to perform for just about any athlete. When you take away the potential for a bigger payday, the incentive to excel is minimized.
REASON NO. 4 - FRAMEWORK
By now, youre aware contracts are front-loaded for players to receive more money right away than in the final years of the deal. Teams can tack on a few more years and significantly reduce the annual cap hit that comes with it. In the case of New Jerseys Ilya Kovalchuk, his 15-year contract expires at the age of 42. Seems completely unrealistic, doesnt it? This "salary cap era" has promoted circumvention, creating an economic imbalance.
REASON NO. 5 - THE DOWNFALL OF JIM CAREY
The Jim Carey Im referring to is the guy who won the Vezina Trophy for the Washington Capitals back in 1996 with a 35-24-9 record, a 2.26 GAA, and a .906 save percentage at the age of 23. Carey appeared to be the next great netminder, only to see his career skydive without a parachute. His fall from grace was unreal.
Olaf Kolzig never came close to his award-winning 2000 season and Jose Theodore only produced one real quality year after claiming the Vezina in 2002.
Goalies are quirky, bizarre, odd and once they lose their fundamentals, its gone for good. As for the downfall of Jim Carrey, that came after Dumb and Dumber, his last great comedy.