Having all that I can handle with reality, I don't do fantasy. Or fantasy hockey.
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On the plus side, fantasy hockey forces homer fans, loyal to their team, to actually look at other good players in the league. To do well in fantasy sports, one must, of necessity, keep up with the scores, stats, and injury reports league-wide. Of course, I am sure there are plenty of fantasy leagues with varying levels of complexity in their rules. No doubt there are leagues that actually make the participants deal with salary caps.
In that regard, it would seem that Ovechkin might be a difficult property for fantasy leaguers for the next thirteen seasons when his salary goes to over nine million dollars annually. As a confirmed capitalist, I would be the first to say that Ovechkin's unique skills and talent are certainly worth what the market will pay. Unfortunately, by locking himself into such a long-term agreement with the Washington Capitals, it is also within the realm of possibility that the dream of all NHL players - to win the Stanley Cup - may always be a fantasy for Ovechkin.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing the Caps. They were impressive when they played the Wings recently and have been a handful for Ottawa this season. You have to like what coach Boudreau has done so far since taking over. But will he be the coach thirteen years from now? Will ownership even be the same? Will the Caps realistically be able to build around their marquee player and create a legitimate contender?
Most people think that the only reason to hire an agent is to get the most money for the talent and skill on offer. Obviously, Ovechkin's abilities are such that he didn't need an agent to set a price. By representing himself Ovechkin saves plenty on the agent's commission. But, it is doubtful to me that any responsible agent would have encouraged a fixed price contract extending out past a decade for any young client. This is especially so for a client whose abilities may actually increase in value within the next 3-5 years rather than decrease. And certainly this is true for a client on a team that, at present, probably won't be winning the Stanley Cup in the near future.
Additionally, some might think a long-term contract is a bad deal for the Caps, given the risk factor of injury or a dramatic fall away in skills of a key player. But, that risk is at least calculated, and, more importantly, insurable in terms of injury. Further, the player gets a fixed amount of salary, regardless of any future wins. As a result, this deal heavily favors the house.
Conversely, Ovechkin has no control over all the other elements that go into making up the other components of an elite team. In fact, given the difficulty of any team winning the Cup, the reality is that in the next thirteen years the Caps won't win it. With so many intangibles in the mix it simply isn't a one-in-thirty chance in any given year.
There is no doubt that through his career Ovechkin will amass an outstanding record on various stat sheets. Unfortunately, there are plenty of superstar hockey players with great individual records who have never won the Cup. Ovechkin's trade-off for long-term job security in exchange for exclusive use of his talent may prove to be a deal with the devil - if his goal is to lift Real Stanley instead of Fantasy Stanley.
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