Much was made of Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils, such as that there’s no way it’s legal. And if the contract rubs you the wrong way, too, find solace in this: Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello doesn’t seem like he’s such a big fan of it, either.
UPDATE: Well, um, apparently the NHL itself isn’t such a big fan of the deal either. Remember all that stuff about Kovalchuk’s contract circumventing the salary cap, etc. but still being within the rules? Apparently, the NHL didn’t agree with that whole “within the rules” part, and will void the contract. This story just got a lot more interesting…stay tuned.
Lamoriello said the “financial commitment…aspect” was “out of [his] hands” and that “you’d have to speak to ownership” to get their rationale. In other words, as Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! saw it…pin this one on Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek. At least, that’s how Lamoriello would like us to see it.
The above-linked Deadspin post turned out to be right on in terms of the deal’s front-loaded structure (all of the last six years of the contract are for less than $1 million). And according to Tom Gulitti of The (Bergen) Record, it’s enough for Lamoriello to “roll his eyes” and say that, although the contract is within the NHL’s rules, it’s a dumb set of rules that allows such a deal.
Wyshynski is right on when he calls this “a surprising bit of candor,” one that we couldn’t be happier with – even if, as Wyshynski also suggests, Lamoriello is setting himself up to take as little of the blame as possible if Kovalchuk doesn’t meet expectations.
It’s nice to see someone just come out and admit that they’re taking advantage of a broken system, and that they’re not proud of it. Imagine what an admission like that could do for certain other sports figures.