One Final Entry On Front-Loaded Contracts

New York Islander Fan Central | 6/30/2010 03:15:00 PM |
I have done this blog entry several times the last few years, I don't like writing it, however someone has to.

This is usually when we start reading free agents won's sign with New York, the Coliseum is this and that.

It's complete non-sense.

The media fans of other teams don't write that about their own buildings or teams because it's bad for business, the local papers that need the clubs advertising dollars, who need a good relationship with the teams turn into designated salesman in too many instances.

You think it helps the Detroit News/Free Press to write Joe Louis Arena is a dump when Little Caesars Pizza advertises Red Wing hockey in their newspapers, and owns the Detroit Tigers?

Example: Look at the Manhattan papers selling the laughingstock Knicks and a building that is as big a dump as the Coliseum.

Of course it's the exact opposite here, the local paper (even before owned by another NHL franchise) could care less about the New York Islanders and their print media writers are not fans, but people on assignment.

Garth Snow a few years ago said the Coliseum was one thing brought up in some negotiations, and the media has run with it ever since. His job then as now is to sell the LightHouse for his boss when required, but that was a mistake on his part at the time, which was overblown.

Greg Logan at the time was also too busy selling Msg/Cablevision to bother reporting whether the Isles offered Chris Drury, the same front loaded contract Msg/Cablevision offered or what kind of contract Ryan Smyth was offered by Charles Wang vs Colorado.

We all found out later on, Smyth's deal was front loaded.

The age of the Nassau Coliseum is not the real issue (compared to dumps like Detroit, Edmonton, formerly Pittsburgh/Meadowlands and of course Msg which will become the league's oldest building next season) but the front-loaded contracts so players can control their money themselves, as opposed to later when escrow, or a new CBA/lockout could take some of it from them.

Detroit, a franchise that had to give away cars before New York owned the Stanley Cup in the eighties, became a big draw by spending close to eighty million dollars a year pre lockout, before handing out tons of long-term front-loaded deals.

Marian Hossa (a nine million dollar one year contract in Detroit), Duncan Keith, Huet, Campbell, and the front-loaded deals is why these players selected Chicago, a franchise that had three thousand season ticket holders a few years ago.

Wang/most non-corporate owners cannot afford that kind of huge, short-term loss, this is biggest reason star UFA do not sign here.

The rhetoric of winning or x franchises history sounds nice for the press conference, the writers/fans in the professional media selling tickets for those teams indirectly with their articles, but for many when all things are even (family) it comes down to salary.

Billion dollar corporations that own hockey teams can afford to take a twenty million dollar hit the first two years of one contract, or lose money on hockey operations for a few years to afford such a contract, Charles Wang and many other owners cannot.

This is also why you see a Scott Gomez, Ryan Smyth or others moved after a few seasons. The front-loaded portions of the contracts have been paid out. The player may have struggled, but that contract is now less of a financial risk, so they can be traded hoping their former team was just the wrong fit for them.

Someone signs in New York, they also pay much more in taxes and cost of living. No big hockey endorsement money available in baseball/NJ football's biggest city.

I'm not signing sad songs here for Alexei Yashin, but look at how much money he lost in his contract, which was one of the huge pre lockout contracts not front loaded?

Twenty four percent of his contract, a full-year's pay lost, 1/3 of his contract lost in a buyout, paid out over double the time.

Players and agents don't want any chance of their clients losing their money, so it's front-loaded or no deal.

Even Jason Blake received a front-loaded contract with Toronto, as soon as he got a large percentage of his money, he was traded.

I suppose it's easy for us to ask Charles Wang to lose even more money starting Thursday by front-loading some contracts, however it's not our money and not realistic.

It's also not realistic for most non-corporate teams, even those in new buildings where they make all revenue.

Bottom line, without a front-loaded contract, star players, and even most upper tier players don't sign anywhere anymore.

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