21 July 2010

NHL "cheat" contracts

Taking a (likely brief) break from Sather-Boogaard bashing, I figured I'd instead return to posting a table of numbers.

Wherever you read about the Kovalchuk contract signing/rejection ("Me? Lou Lamoriello? Employing dubious cap management practices to wriggle through loopholes in the CBA that I had a hand in creating? Never!"), there are references abound to some of the other heavily front-loaded, long-term deals handed out in recent years to other players, that tested the NHL's patience before it finally decided to crack down.

Expanding slightly on the analysis at Behind The Net, the table below (click to expand) summarises the salary progression and resulting cap hit for each of the contracts in perhaps the seven most contentious deals. [Source: capgeek.com]

  • The "real" part of each contract is highlighted in yellow, the "dead" money/years in orange. I've slightly arbitrarily chosen salaries under $2m to be the "dead" money, though there's clearly some argument as to where to draw that line in some cases - and the numbers would accordingly look somewhat different.
  • Adjusted cap hit (1) represents the total contract value divided by the number of "real" years
  • Adjusted cap hit (2) represents only the contract value within the "real" years divided by the same number of years
  • In both cases, I've shown the annual cap saving made from structuring the contract how it was compared to either paying the same total value within the shorter "real" term (1) or eliminating the "dead" years entirely (2)
  • It's fairly evident that the Kovalchuk deal is pushing the envelope more than its comparables by a number of measures, though clearly $1m of cap savings for one team may well be of more value in a sense than $3m to another team
  • Interesting that the Savard deal could be considered as the next most contentious, while acknowledging that the term is shorter than most and whether you regard the $1.5m in Year 5 as "real" or "dead" makes quite a difference in this case
  • Of course, the Pronger deal is distinguished from the others by it being classed as an "over-35" contract, meaning Pronger will be suspended for over 35 games during the lifetime of the contract the Flyers will be stuck with the cap hit (barring trade) even if Pronger retires before the "dead" years are reached - just as Paul Holmgren intended (ahem)

9 July 2010

Boo Hard With A Vengeance

More from the file marked "Dead Horse: Flogging"...

By now, the sports world has had time to digest the ever-so-mature response from Cleveland Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, to the decision of LeBron James to shift his jersey/shoe-selling business to another state.

With the time set aside for signing a big paycheck with LeBron's name on now vacant, MSG big cheese, James Dolan, was then free to keep the neglected New York Rangers fanbase updated with the background to their team's recent work in free agency:

Dear New York City, All Of New York State (apart from that stinky Long Island bit and that cold bit near Canada) and New York Rangers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our future hero, who grew up in the very region whose name is taken from his ancestry - Sasquatchawan - is no longer a Minnesota Wild. No, I don't know what a "Wild" is either.

This was announced with a several hour, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up on TSN's "Free Agent Frenzy" - a national (in Canada) TV special of his "decision". This led to something unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment - stunned silence from Pierre McGuire.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of you.

The good news is that the ownership team and the President/General Manager (if we have some hard-working, loyal, and driven staff, I'll let you know when I meet them) over here at your hometown Rangers have not cared about you nor NEVER will care about you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be referring you back to the transcript of the President/General Manager's sole scheduled conference call for 2010, rather than telling you any more about these events.

You simply don't deserve this kind of unfathomable free agent signing. You've been spoiled enough with this kind of thing for the last 15 years.

You have been given so much and deserve so much higher ticket prices.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank. And we all know how respected and trustworthy the banking industry is.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to New York...well, clearly, you're nuts. I can tell you that this shameful display of over-reactive ignorance and unnecessary largesse by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced depths.

Some people (looking at you, Chelios) think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.

This shocking act of incredulity from our home grown "tomato face" sends the exact lesson of what we would want Messier to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called "running" of Henrik Lundqvist.

The self-declared "King" will be taking the "running" for a whole six minutes per game less than ever before. And until he does "right" by Philadelphia and Carcillo, Derek (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own the dreaded spell and bad karma left by that Brashear guy last year.

Just watch. If you can see past the guys in suits standing up and checking their Blackberries for the half hour they show up for in the row in front of you.

Sleep well, New York. Don't fear the Boogeyman.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day....

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING ME the corporate ticket sales and zero to two home playoff dates I have long deserved and is long overdue....

James L. Dolan
Chairman, Madison Square Garden
New York Rangers

6 July 2010

Boo Hard 2: Boo Harder

Five days into the free agency period, there's still a lot of interest in discovering where one free agent in particular - one who's been stuck on a team in a crummy market, with very few capable team-mates and has experienced nothing but playoff disappointment in his career to date - will end up, having been seeking an outrageously lucrative long-term deal.

But as well as Ilya Kovalchuk, I hear that the decision of some NBA player has been attracting a modicum of media interest. Apparently, the clamour to sign this guy has been so intense that even hugely successful franchises like the New York Knicks have taken to commissioning a study from a firm of marketing consultants to present the case for playing in Madison Square Garden next season and beyond. The report is now in the public domain, having been leaked to Forbes.

You might think such a study is a one-off, a unique expense by a high-profile franchise to attract a Hall of Fame talent at the peak of his career. But in fact, I can reveal the other MSG tenants always apply similar rigour to their summer recruiting process - witness the study pulled together to lure in a much sought-after forward from Minnesota just last week:

1 July 2010

Boo Hard

You know you can rely on Glen Sather on 1 July when almost three hours in, you are thinking to yourself:

"Wait, we're almost three hours in and he hasn't done anything insanely and criminally asinine like signing Derek Boogaard to a bigger, longer contract than Jody Shelley just crowbarred out of the Flyers yet. I'm nervous."

...and only have to wait a matter of minutes for the cigar-chomping genius to flourish an almost uniquely ridiculous deal on a zero-dimensional tough guy who "earns" five minutes of ice-time per game.

But having had time to consider the details of the signing, against all odds and conventional thought, there are in fact several worse ways the $6.6m could have been used:

  • Set up a construction company in partnership with Chris Neil
  • Buy Nassau Coliseum...twice
  • Buy two platinum seat tickets at Air Canada Centre for that key Maple Leafs - Thrashers game on a Tuesday night in November
  • Use it to pay off Sather's contract and immediately hire Darryl Sutter as his replacement
  • Increase the annual Versus budget for its NHL coverage by a factor of 6,600
  • Sign Wade Redden to a four-year, $6.6m contract extension