I know it’s not typical Frappe protocol to write about the NHL, but in this case, I just can’t pass it up. In case you missed it, the Washington Capitals handed out a 13 year contract extension worth 124 million dollars last week. This marks the first time in NHL history that a player has received a contract worth over 100 million dollars. The lucky recipient: Alexander Ovechkin, a 22 year old Russian who came into the league in 2005.
While this isn’t the largest average salary contract in NHL history, nor the longest contract ever handed out, it is a big deal that a team is handing out a decade-plus deal worth so much money. It wasn’t that long ago that the NHL was striking and people like myself were wondering if my kids’ kids would even know what hockey was. Then even when the strike was resolved, things didn’t look very bright as teams struggled to put bodies in the seats, let alone get their games broadcasted on an accessible television network. In fact, from what I’m told, the Capitals still don’t exactly fill their arena, and I doubt this is going to change that.
While I’m tempted to say that this contract is not a good thing for hockey since it only signals the rise in players’ contracts and another possible collapse, I’m refraining because it also signals an interesting turning point in the league that might have more positive than negative. Let’s face it, the NHL has gotten a little bit smarter since the last collapse and is recovering at a rate I don’t think many of us dreamed of. The fact that I’m even mentioning some dude from Russia whose name I cannot pronounce is a good thing for the league. Add to that the media coverage they get for playing the occasional game outside and you start to feel like hockey just might be rallying to a new level. So is hockey back? Probably not, but at least you are thinking about it, and that is all the NHL really needs right now.