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Frederick, MD • United States • 2009 Years Old • Male
<p>Capitals fans (and no doubt the team itself) have dealt with swirling rumors regarding their 22 year old superstar in recent weeks. Fans of teams around the league were concocting outlandish rumors of trades that were supposedly near fruition. We heard Nashville, Columbus, Montreal, and countless other teams were "close" to making a deal for the face of the Capitals' rebuilding effort. Then there were rumors of contract offers likely to be extended to Ovechkin upon his entrance to the restricted free agency market.</p>
<p> Yet the Capitals continued to win, and Ovie continued to be Ovie. But Caps fans remained skeptical -- hesitant to pour their heart into a team that had not signed their superstar to an extension some six months after "that other guy in Pittsburgh" got his.</p>
<p>But now we know that Ovechkin is indeed ours for the long haul. We know he wants to be here -- that he's not forced to be here because of league rules. And we know George McPhee and Ted Leonsis are willing to put their money where their mouth is. What we don't know is if Ovechkin will ever bring a Stanley Cup to Washington, but Ovie says it's in his plans:</p>
<p style="margin-left: 40px;">"My dream was always to play in the NHL, and Washington is my second home," Ovechkin said. "I appreciate all that the team has done for me. I love my teammates, the coaches, management and owners, and I love being a Washington Capital. The fans here have been great to me. I want to win, and I want to bring the Stanley Cup to Washington."</p>
<p>Ovechkin's contract sets a new precedent in National Hockey League history. Although his new contract does not set a record for its length of terms (congrats to Rick DiPietro,) Ovie becomes the first player to receive a nine figure deal. His $124 million contract trumps the previous NHL high set by fellow Russian
Alexei Yashin (in what was arguably the most ill-advised contract offer in league history) by a cool $36.5 million. But unlike Yashin, Alexander Ovechkin is worth every penny...or is he?</p>
<h5 style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);"><big>WHY OVIE AND THE CAPS WIN</big></h5>
<li>For starters, all questions about Washington's commitment to winning have been answered. Leonsis did his best Dan Snyder/Peter Angelos impersonation and shelled out big money for big-name players in the past -- Zubrus, Halpern, Grier, Konowalchuk, Bondra, Lang, Gonchar, Nylander, Witt, and of course Jagr. But it didn't work. Caps fans were forced to say goodbye to those guys and say
hello to Heward, Muir, Majesky, Willsie, Cassels, Friesen, and Biron. But we also got to meet Alexander the Great, and suddenly we fell in love. But would Ted be willing to ante-up the funds to keep the superstar after his previously failed experiment? We were afraid the answer would be no, but thank goodness our worries were confuted.</li>

<li>There has been lots of talk of Ovechkin wanting to play in a hockey market. With Washington ranking at the bottom of the league in attendance, a thriving hockey market clearly we are not. Ovie loved playing in Canada, Montreal being his favorite. But there were many other viable markets for a player like Ovechkin: Detroit, Toronto, New York, Buffalo, Minnesota, Colorado, Los Angeles...almost anywhere but here. Of course the Caps could have matched any offer (imagine what Kevin Lowe and the Oilers might have come up with,) but did we really want Ovie around for seven years if we KNEW (or at least thought) he
did not want to be here. Talk about issues with team chemistry! Not to mention the persistent trade rumors. But Ovie likes it in Washington and he chose to be here all on his own (well perhaps with some from his parents.) We know he wasn't talked into signing with the Caps by his agent...he doesn't have one. It's his choice and he's happy, so we're happy.</li>

<li>The Capitals have their cornerstone for his entire prime. Ovechkin's contract won't expire until he turns 35. Gretzky's last 100-point season came at the age of 33. Lemieux was 32, though injuries prevented him accomplishing that at 36. Brett Hull's last 40-goal season came at 33. Yzerman was 35 when he had his last season with over a point-per-game -- even the freak known as Messier was 36 when he last achieved this. The point is, even the great players begin to trail off at around the time Ovechkin's deal is up. So if you ask me, 13 years is a perfect length.</li>

<li>Long before Ovechkin's contract expires, there will likely be a dozen or more players with significantly more lucrative deals. In addition, the salary cap will continue to rise which will afford the Capitals with plenty of space to build a winning team around Ovechkin. The Caps have also stockpiled draft picks in recent years, and continue to do so, which should give them a persistent flow of
inexpensive homegrown youngsters to support Ovechkin for several years to come.</li>
<h5 style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);"><big>WHY OVIE AND THE CAPS WON'T WIN</big></h5>
<li>Whenever a team puts this much stock in one player, the rest of the team may feel some resentment towards that guy. Though this seems unlikely with the character this team has, it absolutely can not be ruled out. For some players, it may be an immediate resentment while for others it may grow over time. Everyone realizes how important Ovie is for this franchise, but that's a lot more job security than anyone else on this team will EVER have. While any resentment will
likely never come out publicly, it could affect the chemistry this youthful team has built to this point.</li>

<li>What happens if the Caps don't become Stanley Cup contenders? What if they continue to lose? What if Ovechkin wants out? The Capitals have saddled themselves with another huge contract. If ever Washington needs to move Ovechkin as they did Jagr a few years back, the Caps may end up eating some of Ovie's salary and worse yet, may not get fair value in return. Ovechkin's youthful exuberance can last only so long on a losing team. Right?</li>

<li>Ovechkin plays the game with reckless abandon. This is what makes him so much fun to watch. It's what makes him so feared by opposing teams. His body has held out thus far having missed only one game since arriving in North America. But if he continues to play that way, and we expect no less from him, you'd have to imagine he can easily be setting himself up for injury problems in the future. What happens if within four or five years, he begins to have nagging injuries? What if he's no longer the Ovie we know and love? What happens if we're stuck with a guy who can only play 40-60 less effective games a year who is still on the books for 7 years at $70 million? You know...it could happen.</li>

<p>All that being said, I'd take Ovie and his monstrous contract any day of the week...BUT DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU!</p>

January 14, 2008 4:10 PM ET | Delete
Interesting take!Good piece! I also agree that any long term contract should come with the "don't say I didn't warn you" clause.Whether the Caps end up in a Jagr-like situation obviously remains to be seen, but with the youth movement the Caps have begun, AO is sure to receive more support from better, younger players that he can bond and grow with. I feel this deal will remain a standard in the NHL for a long time to come and that the Caps will always reflect upon this deal as a bright spot and a smart move.
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