No sports athlete is really "worth" most of the salaries they are being paid. On that front, we can agree. Not Jeter. Not Tiger. Not A-Rod. No one. That includes Kovalchuk. But I think that you are purchasing a lot more then a single player for the on-ice product for $100 million—that is if indeed, the Islanders should win the Kovalchuk sweeps.
ON THE ICE
Perhaps a different approach to consider—you have to offer the "security blanket" of terms and dollars to acquire a player of this caliber via free agency if you are going to get a signature on a contract. Unfortunately—for every GM or every team—that is the nature of sports athlete contracts—and I don't see it improving anytime soon.
Being the GM means you are screwed. It seems to be more so the case when you are GM of the NY Islanders.
If Garth Snow fails to sign a player—as we saw with Martin and Hamhuis—it makes no difference to fans why the player CHOSE to sign with another franchise. You can show these Islanders fan a video taped meeting with Paul Martin and Garth Snow, where Martin is shown written documentation that the Islanders are offering the most dollars, and best terms. You can show Paul Martin talking to Garth Snow and here Martin actually tell Snow, all is well with the terms and dollars, and that he loves what Garth has done with the franchise, but he is going to sign in Pittsburgh for less money because he does not like the arena and feels the Pens are closer to winning now.
All of that evidence can be presented—yet still, fans will call Snow a bad GM and a fool, for not trying hard enough.
And then there is the signing of 4 players—two defenseman who represent upgrades for the team—fans are not happy. Despite the terms and dollar amount, fans feel these players are not good for the Islanders and are largely lateral moves.
In the case of Kovalchuk—the Isles are making a bid to add a left wing of extremely high ability. One that can change a game, and dominate. Left wing—where we are likely the weakest at present. For the right to have the team take a gigantic step forward on and off the ice—it is going to cost $100 million. Some fans dont care about the money, but feel the terms are not good. Some say do it—others say dont do it.
I think there is much more to it!
This is much more then just a hockey player for "on-the-ice" success. This is as much about securing a playoff birth, as it is about solidifying the negotiating position of Charles Wang and Scott Rechler for an arena deal.
A Kovalchuk addition will take our 9,000-10,000 per night ticket sales (if it is even that high) and add 2,000 to 3,000 sales, and as the team wins, those numbers go up. Queens, Brooklyn, and any municipality with any common sense would be salivating at the potential revenue that brings in to the surrounding area. Kate Murray and mafia boss Mondello—and the other Hooples of Hempsted don't have much common sense—but they will see the opportunity to skim big dollars off the profits—as they have done for decades with NVMC.
Is it worth $100 million to get an arena deal?
Is it worth the cap hit to all but ensure a franchises long term viability and stability with a potential first unit that highlights a 40 goal scorer Kovalchuk, and potential 40 goal scorer Tavares—not to mention any one of a number of line mates such as Moulsen, Okposo or Bailey who could equally generate 60+ points. It would become one of the top lines in the game! When was the last time the Islanders boasted a top unit of that caliber? Turgeon? Pallfy? LaFontaine? Nope—you have to go all the way back to Trottier-Bossy. individually—the last time we had a player of this level was Palffy—and that was 20 years ago.
And even with a $10 mil per year deal, by this time next season—the Islanders could still find themselves under the floor, and able to not only re-sign their young stars, but add more pieces to the puzzle.
Garth Snow is recognizing what he has, and with a young core taking shape, he is ready for the rebuild to take a major step.
I don't see how you turn a player of this level and skill down when so much could happen with his signing.
CHARLES WANG AND 'HIS' MONEY
For all the garbage he takes for being "cheap," Charles Wang is anything but. He has shown that he is willing to spend, and spend big. He did it for Yashin, DiPietro, Peca. He allowed GM's to bring in players, and has not been stingy. He has upgraded the arena as best as he can with the restrictions he has. With Wang's blessing, Snow is the one who brought the payroll down and he did it, so he could make a play like this! He did it because the team needed to be reconstructed just like you build an arena—with a foundation. From the draft, a core has been built. Now it is time to begin to add more pieces. The man is willing to spend millions of dollars to build an arena—and fund the team, all at a loss.
WHY DO YOU CARE?
I think it is about the real estate deal the Hub represents. But you know — WHO CARES!
If it is all about real estate, who cares? Despite that, the man is now willing to fork over $100 million for a player's salary.
Does it make the team better? YES.
Do we give a crap if the man is slated to make a billion on the real estate if it goes through? I sure don't. Do you?
As long as we have OUR Islanders, and the team is improving, and competitive—I don't care. Every owner deserves to make money for his investment.
If Charles wants to spend his money like this and improve the team—who am I to argue! As long as we can build a great hockey team, and be competitive not just for a year or two, but like the Isles of old, like the Wings and Devils have been—I think that is what every Islander fan should care about.