DiPietro's big deal
My issue with the Rick DiPietro signing today has nothing to do with the length of the contract, however absurd it may first appear. No, the thing I take issue with, in this case, is the player getting the deal.
I really believe long-term contracts with young stars — much like the five-year, $15-million one Jonathan Cheechoo signed during the season with the San Jose Sharks — are going to be the future under this CBA, and while the length of DiPietro’s deal (15 years) takes that to an extreme, it’s a good example of where we’re headed. Savvy (or completely inexperienced) GMs will look to somehow get “more for less” from their dollars, and one way to do that is to offer long-term security to players in exchange for a smaller dollar amount.
Not that that’s reflected particularly well in this case.
Had a contract of this heft been offered to a young goaltender such as 22-year-old Cam Ward or 24-year-old Henrik Lundqvist, that at least would be following some sort of a reasoned course. Ward, after all, is coming off a Conn Smythe Trophy, Stanley Cup winning turn as a starter, and Lundqvist’s name was mentioned in the same breath as Vezina Trophy candidates all season.
In other words, to some extent, they are proven, winning commodities.
2005-06 saw the 24 year old struggle, and he posted a far worse goals-against average (3.02) and save percentage (.900) compared to his prelockout efforts. In his career — all 137 starts of it — DiPietro has a 58-62-8 record with a 2.85 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.
Granted, these aren’t numbers posted behind a defensive powerhouse, and the Islanders have been downright awful in recent years.
Still, it’s not as if other young goaltenders haven’t been able to establish themselves under trying conditions. Roberto Luongo is perhaps the best example of this, and given he’s just two years older than DiPietro (and was essentially dealt to make way for him in Long Island), you’d be hard-pressed to make the case that time is what’s allowed Luongo to assert himself as one of the game’s best.
DiPietro simply hasn’t.
I generally get a few emails any time something noteworthy happens in the NHL, but the effect is magnified when that noteworthiness has something a little zany included. Hockey people do like a small dose of zany with their happenings.
The 142-year contract DiPietro signed today seems to fit the bill.
Of the responses, I think my old friend Peter says it best: “Apparently the best way to get around one massively cumbersome long-term contract is to sign another one."
It seems the Isles have learned little from the Alexei Yashin debacle.