June 9, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk during game five of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kings at the Prudential Center. The Devils won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

More On "The Hill We Will Die On" - Why Is Max Contract Length So Important To The Owners?

That’s a really solid tweet from @67sound.

Why was Bill Daly filled with such conviction about contract limits yesterday?  “The Hill We Will Die On” is what he called it during the presser with Bettman.  The PA is holding on to 8 year max deals, while the NHL wants no more than five year max deals.  Isn’t there room for y’know, compromise? 

It’s almost always the long-term deals that are salary albatrosses, especially in the first few years.  Buffalo’s Terry Pegula handing out the tenner to Christian Ehrhoff.  Philadelphia’s Bobby Clarke handing out a nine spot to Ilya Bryzgalov, or New Jersey’s Lou Lamoriello’s fifteen-bagger for Ilya Kovalchuk.  Even if you take off the throwaway years for Kovalchuk, he’s still likely to play for at least nine or ten of those years.

The problem (in the NHL’s eyes)?  Salaries are going up, and when you sign Ilya Kovalchuk to a fifteen year deal, he’s getting 12 million dollars a  year for the formative years of the deal.  Do you see any 1 year, $10M deals floating out there?

Sabres defenceman Christian Ehrhoff made ten million dollars (!) last year.  Teammate  Tyler Myers was slated to make 12 million dollars this year.  Philadelphia’s Ilya  Bryzgalov made ten million in 2011-12.  Nashville’s Shea Weber was slated to pull in 14 million dollars this year.  Don’t forget the Parise / Suter combo in Minnesota, scheduled to pull in the state’s gross national product.  All are signed forever, and all have big dollar amounts in the first half of the deal  (I believe the term ‘frontloading’ is what I’m looking for).

Owners are furiously trying to make term limits 5 years, and have a salary variance of no more than 5%.  Would Kovalchuk make 60M over 5 years?  Maybe, but I’d vote “probably not”.

The owners can’t help themselves, and it’s Bettman and Daly’s job to get the players to agree to term limits. And according to Bill Daly, the owners are willing to die on it.

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