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.


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.

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock
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ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat

As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?