|When Jeremy Roenick gets a mic, he hardly holds back. (Getty Images)|
What with it being the offseason and all, Jeremy Roenick had been quiet over the past couple of months. Too quiet. You knew he wouldn't stay quiet for long.
In a conversation with Josh Rimer of Sirius/XM Radio, Roenick did what he does best and that was go in tangents in a lot of different directions. He told Rimer that the Sabres have a big offer on the table for Shane Doan and of course talked a lot about the ongoing labor issues. In general, he was very pro-player as you'd expect. Roenick went so far as to call the owners bullies and referred to their first offer as an "embarrassment."
He did side with the owners on one thing, though. There needs to be a contract limit because he sees these contracts are getting out of control. Thanks to Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times, here is the full response from Roenick.
Protect the owners and the GMs from themselves, make it five-year maximum contracts so they don't have these stupid, ridiculous, idiotic 13, 14-year deals that are worth $120 million that we haven't seen anyone live up to yet.
"I don't mind the six-year deals, five to six-year deals, that's ok. When you give [Ryan] Suter and [Zach] Parise those 10, 12-year, 13-year 14-year deals, you're committing contract suicide right here. Look what happened to [Alexei] Yashin, look what happened to [Rick] DiPietro, none of these guys have lived up to these long-term contracts because this game is so hard, it's so physically demanding, it is one of the most powerful, hard-hitting, injury-filled games in the world and you're giving these 13-year contracts.
And then you have the Pittsburgh Penguins who give the guy who has the biggest concussion problems in all of hockey a 10-year deal or whatever Sidney Crosby got. I hope this concussion clause is in there. I think Sidney Crosby is the best player in the game, don't get me wrong, but when you have concussion problems the way that he has in the last year and a half and you give him a 10-year deal, is that smart business? I don't think so.”
Where do you start? OK, well first of all, as Roenick does at least mention, this is the owners doing this to themselves. I just have such a difficult time sympathizing with people who are doing something to themselves. If the contracts are so absurd, don't sign them. The Sharks, for example, are one of the teams that don't take on big contracts and they seem to be doing alright.
But moreover, isn't it up to the owner and GM to decide if it's smart for their business? Since Roenick pointed right to Crosby, don't you think that Ray Shero and the Penguins thought that was the right way to go? If they want to take the massive inherent risk then so be it.
Also, I think it's only right to mention we came to realize Crosby wasn't dealing solely with a concussion for the last two years. The doctors eventually diagnosed him with a neck fracture which was going untreated and giving symptoms similar to a concussion. Once that discovery was made he was able to recover and finish the year out strong.
The biggest problem I have with Roenick's criticism, though, is that we just haven't had enough contracts to base this on. He points to the few that haven't worked out well like Yashin and DiPietro. Another he doesn't mention is Scott Gomez. Sure, those failed bad. But it's still a pretty new phenomenon in hockey, we haven't seen how they will work out for a lot of the deals.
Take Alex Ovechkin, for example. He hasn't been able to keep up the level of play he was at when he signed his massive deal, but by no means does it seem like a disaster in the making. He has played four seasons of his contract already and is giving the Caps all-star caliber production still. He had "down" seasons the last two years and still scored 70 goals in that time. It very well could be a serious hindrance at the tail end of the contract when he is still making serious bank, but it might not be.
Or how about Drew Doughty? He signed an eight-year contract to stay with the Kings, a deal which wouldn't be allowed in the owners' original CBA proposal. Does anybody foresee that contract not being lived up by the time it's done? He'll be just 30 years old, having been signed through his prime years.
The point is we don't have enough evidence yet to make a conclusion if they're bad for business or not.
Now having laid out some of the counter-arguments to Roenick, I must admit I'm on the same page as him. I don't think they're good for business in general. Ilya Kovalchuk looked good in the first year of his mega deal, but how will it be by Year 8? I don't know, but I wouldn't like the odds of him still being at this level.
At the same token, I hate the idea of putting contract length limits in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the owners and GMs can't help themselves then they should sleep in the bed they made. I will concede that in some cases the teams have their hands tied because if they don't give a long-term deal another team will and they'll lose the player the covet. Still, force the GMs/owners to make the decision and decide if it is worth it to go long term on the offer.
Not every contract is going to be a hit, that's a guarantee. Making those decisions are what separates the good teams from the bad ones. Leave them in and we'll see which franchises really are run the best.