Bettman locked the players out of hockey for a season because he had, in his mind, the perfect solution to stop the problem of teams with money using it. He was going to institute a hard salary cap, dammit, and he was going to do it his way. Over a year of NHL hockey was lost because of his demands.
So you would think, logically, that a man who was prepared to potentially kill his league with a lockout would have fully and deeply thought through his solution. After all, he had the years previous to the lockout to devise his solution, and he had the lockout years themselves. That is a hell of a lot of time to tinker and get the solution right.
It's become increasingly obvious Bettman didn't/doesn't have the intellectual heft that was required for the task. He didn't, Bill Daly didn't, and none of the legions of blood sucking lawyers they have on staff did either.
When you structure you salary cap in such a way that the salary cap hit is derived from the simple division of the value of the contract over the term, you have left the door wide, wide open for what just occurred re: Ilya and his acceptance of a 17 year contract.
We will get into the merits of this system in a moment, but let's be clear about one thing. This situation of owners giving out money and then attaching it to huge term was caused solely by Bettman, because he allowed it into his CBA.
We don't want to alarm any of you, but NHL owners are not, for the most part, dumb hicks. They know how to read legal-ese, or they have a staff of lawyers on hand who do. The fact is this loophole was immediately obvious to them the day the CBA was ratified.
For Gary to now cancel contracts for taking advantage of the language he put into his CBA is absolutely fucking ridiculous.
Ilya signed a 10 year, 102 million dollar contract, ok people? Because no team can absorb that kind of cap hit, 7 years were tacked onto the contract to get the cap hit down. What's the problem with that?
By taking a lower a cap hit, Ilya frees up money for other players to get paid. Specifically, by taking about a $6 million dollar cap hit as opposed to $10 million, he created $4 million dollars in salary for some other player to get. He made another player very wealthy with his contract. Again, what's the problem with that?
Let's be perfectly clear on this. Not every team in the NHL has money. In fact, most of the teams in this league are what you would consider poor teams. Go over to capgeek.com and just take a look for yourselves where teams sit re: money committed to player salaries.
They wouldn't have been in a position to give Ilya $100 million dollars, because they are not in the position to give players $20 million dollars, no matter the length of the contract.
The teams with money have spent it, for the most part. They don't tend to have cap space in the $10 million dollar range. Hell, LA was offering Ilya a contract that would have made his cap hit smaller than the NJ deal did. And is 15 years of term any more believable than 17 years, in terms of whether or not the player is going to be playing for the full length of the contract?
To take a team that has money to spend and say to them that they cannot spend it because it upsets the sensibilities of the poor owners is bullshit. We are sure Nashville is upset that NJ would have been able to go out and get another $4 million dollar player because of Ilya's contract. But you know what? If NJ doesn't spend that money (the $4 million), Nashville won't be. They don't have any money! And this league is full of Nashville's.
This meme of the 'rich getting richer' is then exposed for what it is: Stupid. Why? Because it assumes that if rich teams are allowed to go out and spend whatever they want on players, the small market teams will be shut out of the talent pool. Uhh, earth to the anti-capitalists: Small market teams don't have money to spend anyways on players. They are already shut out of the talent pool.
Why? Many reasons, but here is a pertinent one. A big name player isn't going to sign with a team that doesn't have the resources to build a winner around him (unless you're name is Rick Nash). A lot of teams in this league spend closer to the cap floor than to the cap ceiling. Ergo, a lot of the teams in this league have voluntarily taken themselves out of the position to bring in talented and big name free agents. A lot of teams in this league have taken themselves out of a position of winning, due to their own budgets.
We are suppose to feel sorry for cheap owners? You know what hurts the league more than 17 year contracts? Cheap owners who gripe and bitch about having to spend money period.
To us, if a big market team wants to sign a guy that only a big market team could afford, that isn't a big deal. If they want to go further and structure the contract in such a way as to allow them to continue to spend money on players, power to them. The money 'slack' that would have been produced by a $10 million dollar cap hit (the $4 million) wasn't going to get picked up by anyone else but another big market team, or, if the player was only in it for the money, it was going to get picked up by a team trying to reach the cap floor.
Who does that help? Weak sisters hurt the league.
And that is what strikes us as odd about the Ilya situation. The fans would have won, the players would have won, the owners, to an extant, would have won. Nobody was taking a loss from this deal, but Gary. And that is why he killed it; because he was getting embarrassed his perfect CBA was anything but.
It smacks to us as a very arbitrary decision.
We have issue with some of the media members and their portrayal of this whole affair.
Dreger: The reason behind the rejection is that 17 years is an incredible length for any contract in professional sports, but when you look at the numbers on Kovalchuk's deal with the Devils it was easy to establish that the numbers dropped off incredibly on the back-end of the contract. Neither the team nor the player expected Kovalchuk to finish his contract and play out those years.
What the fuck is this drivel? Neither the team nor the player expected to finish this contract? How the fuck does he know? He reads minds now? We can all see that it probably isn't likely he wouldn't be playing, but that doesn't mean Ilya or the Devils don't 'expect it' to happen. Honestly, if we were the lawyers for Ilya or Lou, we might consider suing over this statement. Unless someone was stupid enough to put down in writing that they expect Ilya to retire in year 11 of the contract, Ilya, in good faith, would be 'expected' to play the contract out. Lou signed the contract, Ilya signed the contract, both parties 'expect' Ilya to play for 17 years, the likelihood of that actually happening is secondary. Unless, of course, Bettman is accusing one of Lou or Ilya to have signed the contract in 'bad faith'.
Which, if he is, strikes us as odd, because Loungo's, Zetterberg's, Hossa's, and Franzen's contracts all drop off in the final years of the contracts. Why are these contracts signed in 'good faith' but Ilya's was not?
Also, the NHL hasn't released a statement about this situation. Why isn't the media hounding them for one?
This is funny. Save your injuries for the season, buddy.
Some of you know RT, one of the O.G. Domebeer-aholics. But did you people know he is from, and lives in, Calgary?
Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.