Tuesday, September 12, 2006

You Can't Legislate Stupidity (part 1)

From the NY Times:

The Islanders once again defied standard hockey operating procedure yesterday by signing goaltender Rick DiPietro to the longest contract in N.H.L. history — a guaranteed 15-year, $67.5 million deal that will not end until DiPietro is 40.

DiPietro, who turns 25 next week, will make $4.5 million for each year of the contract. Five years ago, the Islanders signed center Alexei Yashin to a 10-year, $87 million contract that has widely been regarded as an albatross.

The Islanders used the first pick in the N.H.L. draft in 2000 to select DiPietro, who has a 58-62-13 record and has yet to lead the Islanders to a playoff series victory.
Here's how Charles Wang defends this deal (do you really think Garth Snow did this by himself?):

“This is not a big deal,” Charles Wang, the Islanders’ owner, said at a news conference.

“If this is what you believe in as a franchise, then get the pieces right and put them in place. You have to have a commitment to who you’re working with. I’ve done this all my business career. Now I’m doing it in sports and everybody is like: ‘Oh my God. How could he do that?’ ”
But if you were commiting to a player for 15 years, wouldn't you want to commit to someone with a proven track record? A proven winner? So far, DiPietro has proven neither.

Here's Scott Burnside (ESPN):

DiPietro, 25, handles the puck exceedingly well, and he has no shortage of confidence. But he has shown a tendency to go sideways, not just for a period or two, but for days at a time when things don't go his way. He was below average before the Olympics last season as the Islanders dug themselves an early hole. He was average at the Olympics as the Americans won one game during the Torino tournament. He was above average down the stretch when the Islanders were effectively eliminated from the playoff race.

Average it out and you've got an average goalie (3.02 goals-against average, .900 save percentage) at an average price -- for a stupefyingly long period of time. Oh, that'll have the fans banging down the rotting doors at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Nassau County and the new arena Wang hopes to build and the arena they'll have to build after that if DiPietro totters to the end of the 15-year deal.
Allan Muir (SI) adds:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. After demonstrating his long-term commitment to goaltender Rick DiPietro today, there might be enough evidence to finally commit whacked-out Islanders owner Charles Wang.

It had to be some form of mental instability, or perhaps the ability to see a future where old and underperforming goalies are in high demand, that led Wang to sign DiPietro to that 15-year, $67.5 million deal. After all, it's not like Wang hasn't had personal experience with the deleterious effects of handing an absurd long-term deal to a cipher of a player. Surely he's noticed Alexei Yashin idly filling a sweater on game nights in between giggle-filled trips to the bank ever since Wang signed him to that 10-year, $87.5 million deal in 2001.
Around the league, they're not saying much different:

''What's my reaction? Amazement,'' said a Western Conference GM who requested anonymity.

''DiPietro's an Islander for life because they're never moving that contract,'' said a Western Conference GM. ''You can say it's only 4.5 but it's 4.5 until the cows come home. Obviously if he plays at a high level they've got themselves a bargain I guess but if he doesn't, you have him on the books for a lifetime.

''Is he one of the 10 best goalies in the league today? I would say no right now,'' he added. ''Unless his career is ready to take a big step forward, you've yourself an average goalie for $4.5 million a year. And you've got him for the rest of your life and Yashin for the rest of your life. Geez.''
Geez is right. Eric McErlain rounds up some of the other reaction from the hockey blogosphere here.

Of course, Wang doesn't really care that we're laughing at this him and his dealings. Today, he's got his man; he's got him for 15 years; and if Loxy is right, possibly more:

The New York Islanders. Hiring Garth Snow made me laugh out loud. But a 15 year deal for your goaltender? Maybe they anticipate that he will be Snow's successor.
Scarily, this actually doesn't sound implausible.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:05 PM


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