The Old Reach Around

I love it when the NHL reminds me of Arrested Development.

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The gesture that Gob makes when he says “reach around” is super funny to me.

It appears that Gary Bettman has grown tired of slippery GMs signing players to these ridiculous contracts.  He’s not going to take it anymore!

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Take THAT, Lou Lamoriello!


So, a couple of hiLARious things happened yesterday:

1. The Devils held a press conference to announce Kovalchuk’s only-sliiiightly-more-ridiculous-than-all-the-other-cap-circumventing-contracts-that-came-before contract.

2. At that press conference Lou Lamoriello basically stuck his tongue out at the league and said, “Na-na-na-na-boo-boo!  You can’t catch me!”  Which is both obnoxious and delightful.

3. The league rejected Kovalchuk’s eleventy-million year contract AFTER the Devil’s press conference.  Which is both petty and amusing.

The whole thing has left me feeling both VERY amused and VERY disgusted.

Amused because, well let’s face it, the situation is funny from almost every angle.  The Devils (and every other team that can attract these types of free agents, and afford their contracts) made a BIG show yesterday out of signing a player to a contact WHILE fully admitting that the contract is a farce.  That’s funny.  The league is behaving like a fed-up babysitter.  After years of letting his babysitting charges get away with murder, Gary Bettman is suddenly yelling in harsh tones, and trying to be all authority-figure-y.  That’s funny too, because like everyone knows who has ever been babysat, the babysitter has no real authority.

I don’t care at all what happens next.  As a fan of a small market team that could never attract this type of player on the free agency market, these long years/low cap hit contracts get on my nerves.   So, I don’t really care when or how fairly the line is drawn, I just want these contracts to stop.  On the other hand, I love how Lou Lameriello basically signed Kovalchuk to a cap-circumventing contract, while simultaneously trying to ensure that no other team will be able to sign a player to one of these contracts again. That takes moxie, and I like moxie.

At this point, the whole thing is a win-win.  As the late great George Carlin once said (I’m paraphrasing something I heard him say on the Tonight Show), “When you’re born, and you get a ticket to the freak show, my advice is to just sit back and enjoy.”  That’s true about life, and it’s true about the NHL.


8 Responses to “The Old Reach Around”

  1. 1 Kate-O July 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I’d like to think that it was Lou’s plan all along for the contract to be rejected. If it was, it was genious- make the player think you’re giving him what he wants, sell it really convincingly that it’s what the team wants, too, all the while knowing (or crossing your fingers hoping) that the league will reject the contract.

  2. 2 Pookie July 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    That takes moxie, and I like moxie.

    Lou is made of moxie.

    I have to say, this post makes me sad. I wish I could view this whole situation as an outsider so I could laugh and laugh at all the parties involved. Sadly… Heh.

  3. 3 CrotchetyOriginalSam July 22, 2010 at 8:05 am

    There does seem to be a fair amount of circumstantial evidence that Lou was probably happy to see the league void this deal. This was the opposite of a typical Lamoriello contract, and he was pretty clearly bullied into it by ownership. Plus, it’s all but certain that Kovie will still wind up staying in NJ for the long term. So Lou may yet have the last laugh in all this.

    What bugged me about this deal in particular is not only that it was so blatantly in violation of the spirit of the rules governing the cap, but that the NHL had recently sent out an admittedly non-binding directive to all the GMs which basically said: yes, congrats, you found a loophole, but it’s really unfair and makes us look like dicks, so cut it out.

    So some teams started signing guys to non-bogus contracts with fair cap numbers. Minnesota, for instance, just inked Mikko Koivu to a 7-year extension at $49m or so. Cap hit: $6.75m. Cap hit on Kovalchuk’s rejected monstrosity: $6m. So my team gets punished for not being run by duplicitous jerks.

  4. 4 Katebits July 22, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Well, I’m not sure I can really blame NJ for trying. Many other teams have gotten away with this before (admittedly, this is the worst one). Because it’s a legal loophole in the CBA, a sternly written letter isn’t going to cut it from the NHL.

    I’m pretty curious about how much Lou knew ahead of time and what his ultimate goal is here. There is all sorts of comical establishment-bucking going on here. Is he rebelling against his own ownership? The league? Did he ever intend to actually sign Kovalchuk? Is this all going according to some ultra-evil master plan?

    And if you were Kovalchuk, wouldn’t you be kind of pissed being trotted out for some ridiculous sham of a press conference? And the other Devils there! Parise, Broduer, and Langenbrunner were ALL THERE! That was so far beyond what was necessary for an announcement that Lou knew was going to be invalidated.

  5. 5 CrotchetyOriginalSam July 22, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Hey, at least they didn’t demand an hour on ESPN…

  6. 6 Mike July 22, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Today (Jul 22), forget the hockey. Forget the garden. Forget the orchestra. Forget the heat. Just have a Happy Birthday!

  7. 8 Kathleen July 24, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Happy (belated) Birthday, Kate!!

    I think the fed-up babysitter analogy is spot on. It isn’t exactly fair that the Devils are getting the hairbrush for doing exactly what other teams have done for the last few years, but on the other hand, this sort of deal is such an outrageously obvious ploy to circumvrent the cap that the line had to be drawn somewhere.

    Of course, if the cap was measured by what the player is making in a given year, not the average of the contract, we wouldn’t have this problem, Gary Bettman.

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