Friedman: Ditching long-term contracts is a bad idea

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There’s talk of shortening up contracts to help cut down on the salary cap circumventing deals as the players and NHL negotiate a new CBA. Elliotte Friedman of CBC postulates that cutting out the long-term deals would be a bad idea because they won’t benefit the players or the teams they’re meant to help out.

To set it up, Friedman hypothesizes what it would be like if the maximum length of a contract was five years.

Ryan Suter is 27. Zach Parise is weeks away from 28. Shea Weber will be just shy of 28 when he (tentatively) hits free agency next summer. Evgeni Malkin will be 26 when (under current rules) the Penguins can begin negotiating an extension with him.

All of those players will be in their primes, and in pro sports, your window for maximum earning is finite. With the current “super contracts,” you can take less money on the back end to help your team’s cap situation.

With a five-year maximum, you can’t. None of those guys is going down to $1 or $2 million at age 31 or 32 — nor should they. It’s completely unreasonable to expect the league’s best players to do that, especially in a sport where one big hit can ruin your career.

Making matters worse, deals with monster cap hits and big cash do damage to the smaller markets. If putting a cap on the number of years for a contract is something to be discussed between the Players’ Union and the owners, they should think long and hard about what that could do.