Why Roberto Luongo's contract is different from the rejected Ilya Kovalchuk deal

Thumbnail image for grinningluongo.jpgThe rumors of the NHL looking into other, similarly fishy contracts have been verified, but that doesn’t mean the NHL will be able to kill deals made by Roberto Luongo, Marian Hossa and others. I’ve discussed the various ways his deal is different from other contracts, but other media members are doing a nice job of breaking down individual differences a bit further.

Take, for instance, the case of Luongo’s 12-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province points out a few interesting details that describe why the Canucks should be worried. For one thing, the league expressed its misgivings with the goalie playing until he was 43. They didn’t give them a full gold star seal of approval for the deal, despite approving it. The NHL tried to investigate the situation, although Botchford writes that they failed to receive “full compliance.”

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for martyturco3.jpgAll of that being said, Botchford concludes that there are key differences that will explain why Luongo’s deal won’t be terminated … and also states that the Canucks would prefer it that way. Let me spotlight a few excerpts from Botchford’s story.

First, the league has tried to exhaustively inspect Luongo’s deal for a year. The investigative work is done. If it found any wrongdoing it would have likely made its move by now and done it gleefully. Second, there are some key differences between Luongo’s contract and Kovalchuk’s.

The most prominent being that Luongo’s deal never pays him less than $1 million.

[snip]

But it’s not unheard of. Take Marty Turco will make $1.3 million this year. Last year, he earned $5.7 million. In the final three years of his career, Dominik Hasek averaged $1.4 million after averaging $7.7 million in the five previous years.

Luongo also does not have a no-movement clause, something Kovalchuk’s deal had for the first 12 years. In the final five years of his deal, Kovalchuk’s no-movement shifted to a no-trade and that shift was seen as an escape clause by Bloch.

I think that Botchford points out something that’s actually pretty crucial in these arguments: aside from anomalies like Nicklas Lidstrom, players in their 40s do tend to make substantially less money than they did in their primes. Former stars like Mark Recchi and Mike Modano are making less money than Derek freaking Boogaard, after all.

While the league should be commended for trying to fix some ugly contracts, people are justified in making “slipper slope” arguments. Maybe they’d be better off stopping at the ludicrous Ilya Kovalchuk deal and drawing a line in the sand from this point forward.

That being said, we’ll be on top of the news as it happens … whether we agree with the league’s decisions or not.

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    Sharks flip the script, tie Penguins heading into third period

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with teammates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.

    Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.

    The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.

    Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:

    Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:

    Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.

    Report: Blues will bring back Hitchcock with one-year deal

    SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.

    That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.

    Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:

    When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”

    “I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.

    For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.

    Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.

    That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.

    While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.

    If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.

    Crosby, Rust and Sheary lead Penguins’ early charge

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Bryan Rust #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Evgeni Malkin #71 after scoring a first period goal against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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    Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.

    It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.

    Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.

    Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.

    First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.

    Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.

    There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.

    Beard breakdown: Burns vs. Thornton (Video)

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    Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.

    Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”

    In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.

    The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.

    One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.