Greg Ballentine picks up on something I failed to mention in the Alex Ovechkin contract coverage last week, and I think it bears repeating:
From the standpoint of a GM, what does George McPhee have to lose in signing Alexander Ovechkin to a 13-year deal? McPhee's job is in jeopardy now. He could very possibly be fired this season or this summer. If he loses Ovechkin, the likelihood of that is increased. Ovechkin is one of the top players in the game and will in all likelihood be worth a huge salary — at least as long as he can stay healthy.It's true. The only two general managers in the league who have had the kind of longevity Oveckin's deal provides are Lou Lamoriello (21 years) and Jim Rutherford (14).
If the time comes that Ovechkin is no longer worth his salary cap hit or is no longer healthy, McPhee knows he will likely be long gone from the Washington organization. It is somebody else's problem. There is little downside to him personally.
Barring a trade, injury or buyout, he outlasts McPhee — and likely a host of other managers that will have to build a team around him.
It's something that's related to what's gone on here in Toronto with the Maple Leafs, where GM John Ferguson has essentially been given a one-year mandate to 'win now' with little regard for the future. He's dealt prospects for has-beens, first-rounders to cover mistakes, and signed ridiculously long, lucrative deals with ageing players like Jason Blake.
In short, it's been a mess.
But with the kind of longevity that Ovechkin, Mike Richards and Rick DiPietro — and, soon enough, quite a few others — will enjoy, what used to be a fairly long term for a GM will be nothing. McPhee, Paul Holmgren, Garth Snow and the majority of the others in NHL management positions are almost all dealing with that same 'win soon' mentality, especially with standings where everyone's still in the cluttered race.
It's pretty difficult to think of long-term ramifications when it's the games next week that matter, and you wonder just how many teams are betting the farm in the hopes of short-term success.
Judging by the nonsense that went on at the trade deadline last season, quite a few.
N.B. Ballentine lumps a lot of blame for the deal on McPhee, but in the Capitals' case there were a lot more hands in the pie and ownership certainly played a role in the length of the deal.
That, too, is something we have seen play out with ugly results in Toronto.
Extra Longterm Contracts [The Puck Stops Here]
When is the end for a goal scorer? [James Mirtle]
Ovechkin deal all about the risk [James Mirtle]
Scoring by Age: An In-Depth Look [Dan Tolensky]