12-year contract?

Before things get heated up with the start of training camp, a philosophical question…

Vancouver’s signing of Roberto Luongo today, to a 12-year, $64-million contract extension, raised a question in my mind. On the Kings, a team full of young talent, is there any player to whom you would justify giving a 12-year contract?

The understanding, of course, is that you’re locking up a talented player for the rest of his career, but the clear risk is that the player might suffer a devastating injury or not play up to expectations.

What do you think? Anyone? Drew Doughty?

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  • Matt George

    At this point IF ANYONE I would say Doughty but … Damn that’s a long time and a whole lot of variables.

    All in all my vote goes to NO … it’s just too long.

  • Ziggy

    No. Absolutely not. Not a chance.

  • KQ949

    Great question. Personally, I don’t think AEG/Kings is the type of organization to offer such a contract.

    Rich, do you know how many of the organizations have these long term contracts now? Are the Kings still part of the majority, or are we slipping into the minority?

    Is long term considered 8+. Where does loyalty and stability come in to play for the athlete? Do they have ANY responsibility to management?

  • jason_bort

    I’m not a true believer in contracts like this. But for the sake of the discussion, I think Doughty would be a clear choice. I don’t see anyone else on the team right now worth a 12 year investment/commitment. Too many unknowns. This question will be very interesting in a year or two if players such as Hickey and Bernier find success.

  • TB

    I say no. Two reasons…

    1. The injury issue. Plain and simple. Flexibility is key.

    2. Most importantly, accountability. Remember when Yashin signed the first of the mega contracts with the Islanders? And the disaster that ensued afterward? If a player turns out to be a failed project, or if his interests change and he wants out, the contract that seemed like such a great thing is now a team’s demise.

    I personally think 6-7 years is plenty. If a player is meeting or exceeding expectations, an extention can be discussed. But in order to keep a stable line up, the flexibility and accountability is a must.

    On a side note, ethically speaking…there are major doubts in my mind about the length of the commitment and the player’s intention to honor the commitment throughout the term. Like the Hossa situation…do you really think Luongo will play another 12 years? I doubt it. So what is the real reason for such a long deal? The motives are off base if you ask me.

  • Oldthunder

    Its a very bad idea… look at NY with DiPietro. I can’t justify more than 4-5 years for a great player. I’d lock up Doughty in a heartbeat, but giving a 12 year guaranteed contract to anybody let alone a 19 year old would be career suicide by a GM. Only two players in history could have had those contracts, Gretzky and Lemieux. I can see the bargain on the GM side that you keep salary down for a decade, but what if the player gets hurt or demands a trade i.e. Heatley or stops playing hard after they get their money i.e. Yashin. You can’t rid yourself from a contract of that length or value. I’m for players going 4-5 years tops where they can reassess their market value and continue to prove themselves, and it allows GM’s to change the dynamic of the team rather than have an albatross in the room each year.

  • variable

    no…

    doughty would be the only current king worthy of such consideration….but i don’t like these type of deals…for all the reasons…and seasons…

    however…

    what about giving a guy like simmonds a lifetime deal…?
    i’ll tell ya’ what: another season like last season w/all the right criteria progressions…and why not someone line simmer…? he’s just as high risk/reward as anybody else under such terms…
    i just thought i put a twist on the question…

  • EJ

    It is utter poppycock. These contracts are a way of circumventing the CBA. It’s typical weaselly lawyer bs. Since I now forsee another work stoppage (with the firing of Paul Kelly), I predict that these ludicrous contracts will get “adjusted” and somehow not count against the salary cap terms of the new CBA.

    I love the pro game, but the greed of the owners, lawyers, agents, and players just suck the life out of it.

  • DMG610

    Is there a way you can take out an insurance policy on the deal, should the player ever get seriously hurt?

    I would give it to Doughty so fast your head would spin

  • mrbrett7

    Doughty would be the only one I would consider doing it for…but overall, GOD NO!!

  • variable

    i do think the main reason teams/gm’s offer these deals is to usurp salary cap limits by pro-ration, enabling them to compete with higher offers and/or financially willing teams with front-loaded proposals…

    this has become the favorite loophole of gm’s…and money hungry agents/players… wanting to cash-in on or mortgage free agency…

    the cba expires after the ’10-11 season…and i imagine that this type of bargaining will be strongly debated during the negotiations if the nhl doesn’t intervene before then and implement new rules regarding long-term deals….

  • Ersberg

    No. None of them have proven they are worthy of such a contract yet. The only exception may be Frolov, but I wouldn’t do it for him now because of his age. If he played the way he does now when he was 20, then I would.

  • Quisp

    The whole point is that the player is going to retire long before they get to the end of their contract, and the cap hit comes off the books. If there is a devastating injury, presumably there is insurance, and of course the cap hit comes off the books. This loophole is going to be closed in the next round of negotiations, I assume.

    If you actually expect to keep the player for the length of the contract, and you expect that you (the GM) are going to be there for 12 years (HAHAHAHA), then it would be insane, since you would be saddling your future GM self with a huge cap hit for an old codger who at that point you’re actually paying peanuts. But since you (the GM) know you won’t be around in 8 years (the declining years of the contract), who cares? You’re screwing the fans and the franchise, but hopefully it will have paid off for you, in your new GM job somewhere else.

  • Matt R

    Pretty much agree with everyone. It’s just too long and too much of a risk. Can you imagine if Luongo gets injured sometime this season and his career is over? Vancouver would be screwed for a long time.

    What’s the rule on that? Would Vancouver basically buy out his contract at that point and be eating that cap hit for 12 years?

    The only two players on the Kings I think have the potential to be worth such a contract are Drew and Kopi. I still wouldn’t do it though. I would just try to maintain a great relationship with my players and when extension time came around, offer them a fair contract (not that bull they tried to give Luc) with a max of 6-7 years. Any more than that is just too risky.

  • JWR

    Since the limit on how many years of a contract can be insured for is 7 years any years past that would be put of the teams pocket.

    In Luongo’s case if he suffers an injury tommorrow in which he is no longer able to play the last 5 years of the contract Vancover is on the hook for.

    Not a smart move for any team IMO.

  • 4thlinechecker

    HELL NO! Look at Di Pietro!

    I am wondering, do teams with $$$$ do this, knowing that they can eventually buy out the contract with out it affecting their cap hit if a player retires or somthing like that? The Pronger deal made me wonder if that is the case. I am not sure how all that stuff works, but maybe it is a way of giving a player more money without having it hurt your cap space….. Maybe they knowingly plan on buying out the contract eventually? Is it their way of getting the player the $$$ they want but not having to worry about their cap?????

    Quisp, Variable, Bako anyone? I don’t really understand

  • DetroitSons1952

    When I was 16 back in 1952 and the Yanks signed a guy by the name of Mantle for $100,000. All of kids said, there is NO ballplayer worth that kind of money…. not even the Babe. So now I’m supposed to think that signing a hockey player for $64,000,000 is good???? Nope, it’s NUTS. Economy must not be that bad in most sectors then huh.

  • ernest reyes

    Aren’t these recent long term contracts a way to get around the cap? You give a veteran in his prime a long term 12 year deal for $64mil, but have if front loaded. You have the expectation that the later years of the contract will be near the players retirement. In actuality it should be a 8 year deal (or thereabouts) but you reduce the cap hit by extending the contract beyond the players useful life.

  • PakiFro

    DMG610 — Yes you can get insurance, though its capped at 7 year deals. I don’t have a link but I remember reading its the reason players like Staal and Kopitar had their terms capped at 7.

  • JDM

    I wouldn’t put. 12 year deal on the table, but if Doughty demanded one I’d give it to him. Hell, I’d give him any contract he wanted length-wise. Sign him for 20 years, just don’t let him get away, ever.

    Just for fun, here are the MAXIMUM lengths I’d consider for a few players whose contracts are up in the next few years. Obviously I wouldn’t give out ALL these contracts, this is just on an individual basis.

    (Entering vaccuum):

    Frolov – 8 years
    Quick – 6 years
    Moller – 4 years
    Simmonds – 8 years
    Johnson – 5 years
    Purcell – 3 years
    Ersberg – 2 years
    Zus – 2 years
    Stoll – 3 years
    Drewiske – 4 years
    Harrold/Ivanans – 0 (I might request a year back)
    Williams – Can’t say. Maybe 3, maybe 0.

    So yeah, no 12 year contracts please and thank you. I’m actually shocked that Dean was even discussing a 10+ year deal with Hossa. I’m glad we didn’t give him one, but on the other hand and I kind of glad to see that Dean was willing to play ball since those contracts seem to be what the top-end UFA market is dictating these days.

  • nykingfan

    I agree with EJ

    With the firing of Kelly, we may be looking at another lockout/strike situation. If the hardline player reps get their way, there won’t be a cap when the new CBA is negotiated.
    These contracts are nothing more than a way for the owners to circumvent the cap.

  • Duckhunter

    No, for the length, risk of injury as mentioned above and most important the comfort zone. Most people loose their edge when in a comfort zone, which produces less effort and production. One thing I learned years ago, is you always make the kids uncomfortable. Make them question if they’ve practiced hard enough or been productive enough through the week to start or be the number one guy at their particular position. Have them fight for their jobs at all times. I know Professional sports is a little different than college or H.S., but the concept is the same, take them out of their comfort zone and the results will be significantly better. 12 years is a comfort zone, no way!!!

  • http://JB JB

    As Quisp points out injuries aren’t really an issue. If he gets hurt insurance covers or if its that bad he retires.

    In this case it works because its Luongo. Even at his worst the guy will get you in the playoffs and in the goalie position that’s a valuable talent so if for some reason he falls out of favor w/ team, fans, coach or whoever he can be traded. AT $5 mil he would be a bargain for any other team.

    Again it’s the fact that he’s a good goalie and barring some drastic event will be for the rest of his career. He got his team in the playoffs. Yeah a couple of bad goals at worst time in Chicago series but as a GM if the guy gets you that far then $5 mil is a deal. You take the rest of your $ and find guys that can compesate for those occasional misses by what is generally a good goalie.

  • Matt R

    The NHL can’t take another lockout. It’s bad enough that we’ve already had two, but another so soon after losing an entire year would be suicide. And now DirectTV doesn’t carry Versus. The NHL is a perfect model for other leagues of exactly what NOT to do.

  • Bill

    Drew Doughty would be the only one I’d consider.

  • Ersberg

    It’s a bad gamble to hope a guy might retire prior to the end of his contract. Even if you owe hime a $1m for the last several years, your cap is still hosed.

    You never know when you’re going to need a few million bucks to cover your last contract. Just ask San Jose, Boston, and Chicago how that feels.

  • JGSmall

    It’s Canadian dollars – doesn’t that make it like $3500 a year?

  • jet

    I put his on the last thread, but I thought it was the most important part of the story.

    An interesting excerpt from a Luongo signing article, Obviously he’s one of the best goalies in the world, Shane O’Brien said following an on-ice scrimmage with 11 fellow Canucks at UBC earlier this week.

    12 players on the ice and the Nucks don’t even start prospect camp until next Monday.

  • Irish Pat

    Integrity and a player’s character has little to do with it in my opinion. NHL contracts are only insured for 7 years. A lot can happen in 12. That’s a huge albatross to overcome if injury or… gasp… death occurs.

  • Dan H.

    Well with the US economy in the tank the Canadian dollar to US dollar is only 1 US to 1.11 Canadian so it’s not as much fun to make fun of.

    But as to the question the only one I’d THINK about it for would be Doughty and he hasn’t proven to be worth twelve years YET.

  • Quisp

    4thlinechecker –

    The loophole is that there are no contract limits in terms of duration. The big test of this is on the table right now however, with the Hossa investigation. The crux of that is that the NHL can void the contract or otherwise penalize Chicago if they determine that the spirit and intent of the contract was to circumvent the cap. The reason this is an issue in the Hossa contract is that he will be 42 when the contract expires. The other million-year deals didn’t extend to an age when the player pretty obviously wouldn’t be playing. The credibility line appears to be around age 40. If the NHL decides the Hossa contract is in violation, then we’ll have a de facto limit before an actual one occurs in the next CBA (I’m assuming it’ll be 6 or 8 years or something). I don’t know how old Luongo is, but people are already saying if the Hossa thing goes against Chicago, this contract could be a problem too. I frankly doubt any of these contracts will be voided and/or any teams penalized, but the fact of the investigations may well have a “chilling effect.” Or not.

    The way it works with buy outs is that you don’t get that much benefit from buying out a front-loaded contract in the later years, because of the complex formula the league established. Essentially, it prevents a team from getting a cap benefit that’s out of line with the cash benefit they receive from buying out a player. So the strategy of planning to buy out player x in 8 years doesn’t work. However:

    If the player retires, the cap hit and salary come off the books. End of story.

    If he’s on long term injury, the cap hit comes off the books, and the insurance picks up the tab. Someone mentioned limits on the insurance payments (seven years?). That sounds reasonable. I wonder if the CBA allows teams to negotiate a settlement in those circumstances. I doubt it. If that’s the case, and Luongo has a golf cart accident tomorrow and never plays again, I don’t know how that would work. I assume insurance would be on the hook for a long time, and either VAN would have to pony up for the last five years or maybe there’s a way for him to retire due to injury and get it off the books that way. Or maybe the new CBA in 2012 or whenever will allow teams to be protected from such an eventuality. In any case, the chances of that happening are infinitesimal. The risk of that is nothing compared to the risk that Luongo will stay healthy and simply not be as good as he was; he will be untradable because of the huge cap hit relative to his worth, and the canucks will have no choice but to ride it out, with a super expensive back-up. Presumably they would under those circumstances convince him to retire with promises of a jersey retirement and a cushy front office job and maybe a statue in the parking lot.

  • jet

    WRT the contract, signing Luongo and DD to this contract is like comparing apples to oranges. Luongo probably will receive 8M for the next 7 years and then a million for the last 5 years. So, in essence it is really a 7 year contract for 8M per. The last 5 years are added to lower the average salary per year, which is where the salary cap comes from. It lowers the cap hit to 5.3M, yet still pays Luongo 8M/year. Luongo will retire in 7 years when he is 39 and the Nuks can buyout the contract for a cap hit of less than a million per year.

    Why would DD even come close to wanting to average 5.3 over the next 12 year? He WILL actually still be playing in 12 years. He could take a 4 year contract for 18M, and then an 8 year contract for 80M.

    Finally, if the top players drive the players association to drive the cap out of exientence, then we will definitely lose some teams. Worse yet, there will be permanent dynasties with the Vancouver’s of the world spending 100M and a team like Calgary will spend 60M (and play with 17 players) even with the subsidy. The fans will lose interest and more teams will be lost. Another repercussion would be to add more regular season games. Further watering down the product and cutting into the fan base. There is potential for a downward spiral of enough lost teams, that every remaining team will make the playoffs.

  • deadcatbounce

    How could anyone be talking about twelve years for Doughty after only one season?! Thats absolutely and totally irresponsible! Ive said it before, and Ill say it again heremoney is easy to spend when its not yours! One thing I hope that the Kings dont ever start doing, though, is to give no-movement clauses in contractsto anybody!

    And there wont be a strike after this CBA is up. Another stoppage will be certain death to the NHL as we know it. If the players want to cut off their nose to spite their face thats their problem, but maybe Ballsalie can think about starting his own league

  • Paul from Oxnard

    In THIS hockey environment, a 12 year deal makes a ton of sense. The NHLPA just fired Paul Kelly, which means that another work stoppage is all but guaranteed now. When it happens and the league comes back, possibly with less teams, the salary constraints will no doubt be more severe then they are now. Both Vancouver and Luongo know that locking him up long term, even for as long as 12 years, is beneficial to both parties.

    Would I give a 12 year deal to any Kings? Yes. Kopitar & Doughty would reluctantly get 12 year deals from me, but it better be for salary amounts I want. If they truly are the “building blocks” of this team, then you do whatever you have to in order to ensure they stay here.

  • Sydor25

    If I was a multi-billionaire trying to win a championship, I would sign Frolov to a 12 year deal if it kept his cap hit low and allowed the Kings to keep Johnson, Doughty, Moller, Simmonds etc. on the team.

  • Stonewall

    Maybe the Mikus.

  • anthonyy

    I oppose these long term contracts period.
    Most of the time you’re paying these 40 plus year old geezers millions of dollars while they’re in the twilight of their careers.
    Makes no sense.

  • SCARFACE909

    Don’t know if you guys know, but apparently Vancouver didn’t want 12 years but that was Luongo’s minimum number of years and put them on the spot to offer that.

  • Chuck

    12 Years? NEVER. Way too long, it could either be a blessing (see Rick DiPierto and the Isles vs. the escalating goaltender salaries the last few years), OR a complete handcuffing of a franchise. I’m not that type of gambler. I’d never go longer than 5-6 years for an existing player, or 7 years for a top flight UFA (you have to give to get).

    Now, in Luongo’s case, this is a retirement contract that will never be completely full-filled. It’s probably front loaded, the last 3-4 years are solely to cut down on the yearly salary cap number.

    As far as current Kings, most are saying Drew Doughty. Doughty has played exactly 1 year. Would I gamble a 12 year deal on a 2nd year player? Nope, too risky. Show me consistency over the next few years, and it’s subject-to-change.

    The ONLY player I’d give a 12 year deal to is Dustin Brown. He’s shown consistency the last few years, he’s the team leader, and gives 100% all the time.

  • JWR

    Here is the link on Contract Insurance for NHL Teams
    http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/article/123913

  • Brian

    Doughty is the only one that sort of makes sense on our team to do that with.

  • BakoCAcameraGuy

    Something to remember about ‘retirement’: Mats Sundeen and Brett Favre. And, for that matter, Michael Vick.

    What happens if you just can’t make up your mind about retirement? That would be the Mats Sundeen World Hockey Retirement Tour… Just delay and delay, and delay some more. If you have a contract that pays you until your grandchildren graduate from college, can’t you just never really retire, just never show up?

    What happens if you are just manipulating the system to your own ends, by retiring-unretiring-retiring-unretiring? If you ‘retire’, obviously that kills the contract. But then, can you ‘unretire’ and go to whatever team you want? And then, what happens if you do some surgery, like Favre? You know that the insurance company will stall and stall and stall in its decision, hoping the athlete will get itchy feet and come back. Then, what happens if the athlete DOESN’T come back but the insurance company doesn’t pay?

    Then, what about the ‘morals clause’ part of this? Does an outrageous action by an athlete just get the club off the hook? And, if so, then what happens if the athlete comes back? Wouldn’t that make for a new cottage industry: Private detectives following around the long-term contract stars, hoping to catch an undesired underperforming player in a faux-pas? Can you imagine the blackmail possibilities?

    Bottom line: Long-term contracts may be legal, but they should be outlawed, IMHO. They are definitely getting around the spirit of the cap, if not the letter, and they place too much long-term responsibility on the athlete, and not the team. In each of the above cases, the team untimately wins and the athlete loses money. In my mind, it’s not that Drew Doughty–assuming he continues on this fantastic career path–doesn’t deserve the money. It’s that the NHL has created a system where his money is not guaranteed in the future.

    Perhaps these contracts, and the need to create them, is the true reason the ex-head of the NHLPA was axed.

  • Krystoff

    All this talk has gotten me hopeful that the CAP will go the way of the Dodo.
    I’d greatly prefer we lost a few teams and shortened the season.
    Hockey doesn’t produce enough money to justify any of these contracts anyway.
    If it means “dynasties,” so be it. There was nothing wrong with the Islanders, Oilers, and Habs of the 70′s and 80′s, if you ask me.
    I’d much prefer teams were more like clubs, like they used to be, instead of franchises.
    And, player movement seems to be unstoppable in the “new NHL.”

  • JDM

    I can’t speak for the rest of the people who would give Doughty a 12 year contract, but I am not saying to give a 1 year player a 12 year contract. That is impossible. Doughty couldn’t get resigned until he has 2 years under his belt, most likely 3. Since this is all massively assumptive projection in the first place, when I say I’d give him a 12 year contract, I am talking about at the end of his 3rd year, assuming he continues to develop at a steady pace. I’m not going to speculate on whether I’d give him a 12 year contract today because that’s completely impossible (unless we bought him out and resigned him again… do I smell another loophole? [please don't anyone take that seriously]). If he had wasted 2 years of his contract in Manchester with a few games in the bigs, then came up and played one year, ofcourse I wouldn’t sign him to a 12 year deal… because he wouldn’t be Doughty.

  • LaFan1967

    To avoid these teams circumventing the cap with these
    long term contracts , any contracts that extend pass
    35 years of age cannot decrease and cannot be bought
    out .

    in answer to Rich , the only player who has proven to
    be worthy of a long term contract is Brown ,

  • jet

    Krystoff — ‘If it means “dynasties,” so be it. There was nothing wrong with the Islanders, Oilers, and Habs of the 70′s and 80′s, if you ask me.’

    The difference being is that those were “built dynasties”, by smart, patient GMs with a plan. If the cap were eliminated then we would get “bought dynasties”. The smaller markets would know that they could never compete with the big (and big money) markets.

    Thank you for putting something intelligent down without bashing DL.

  • 54FIGHTING

    I wouldn’t mind teams folding. Goodbye Pheonix, Tampa Bay, Florida, Atlanta, Nashville and whoever else. Bettman over-expanded.

    12 years – No.

    It’s already been mentioned but the real problem isn’t retirement or career ending injury, it’s Yashin syndrome or even worse – Kari Lehtonen. Yearly injuries that don’t take you out of the game but don’t put you in the game either. It’s terrible to say but it’s going to happen to one of these guys with the long contracts.

    Since I’m wishing, I’d also like to see the draft age raised to 20. I think the NHL really screwed this up with the lockout year when they could have just not had a draft and raised the age 1 year. Pitt fans would disagree.

  • AEG rulez

    This contract is the perfect model for DL’s extension. C’mon, Phil — do it now, before DL leaves for greener pastures.

    DL is a genius!

  • Krystoff

    Jet, my friend, I don’t know of any “bought” dynasties in professional sports. With, or without “caps.”. We’ve only had the AEG-promoted cap for a couple years and none of the major markets have been able to “buy” themselves more than passing glory.

  • Ersberg

    Bako-

    Very good point regarding the retirement issues. I’d like to see the NHL clamp down a bit on these ridiculous contracts.

  • Telos

    I thought this was going to be about Frolov when I first saw the title… I was hoping… :(

  • 20lucfan

    not a chance in hell!

  • jet

    Krystoff — Right now the teams are fairly well balanced with smaller city teams still able to compete. The bought dynasties will occur if the cap is removed. For example, Vancouver could probably spend 20M more than a Calgary of Edmonton could. An extra 20M can buy you a perennial playoff team.

    The dynasties you previously mention came about because teams were able to build their teams over a long period of time.

    I agree with moving the draft age to 19 or 20, but I also think you need to move the UFA age back up to 28 or 29 to allow teams to recoup their investment in the early years.

  • marc

    If the purpose of the 12 year contract is to lock up a young player through the prime of his career then Doughty would be the best candidate. Still, I’d say no just because a lot can happen in 12 years that we can never predict. But then if the contract was designed as a way of circumventing the cap where both the player & GM know full well that he won’t be around in the last few years then I don’t see anyone on the team fitting this scenario.

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