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

Aug 11, 2010, 9:30 PM EDT

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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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