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Oh, Those Wacky Islanders

Thank your personal deity for the Islanders giving us a bushel of laughs during a painfully inactive hockey offseason. The team that brought you (and then took away) Neil Smith, the team that brought you backup-goalie-turned-GM Garth Snow, now brings you....a 15-year deal for goalie Rick DiPietro?

That sound you're hearing is a mix of head-scratching, groans, and belly-laughs.

The Islanders are the team that basically ruined the NHL's salary structure by giving Alexei Yashin a 10-year, $87.5M contract in 2001 which drove contracts to record levels of stupidity and indirectly forced the league to cancel an entire season. The ridiculous length of the contract, the ridiculous amount of the contract, and Yashin's subdued style of play has led to the player being undealable. He's now the most hated man on Long Island.

The DiPietro deal isn't as bad financially -- $67.5M, meaning DiPietro will get $4.5M a year -- but, uh, isn't 15 years an awful long time? Actually, it's the second-longest contract in the history of North American sports, behind Magic Johnson's 25-year deal in 1981. The braintrust (and I'm using that term loosely) behind the Islanders is tying up a lot of time in DiPietro, especially considering the fact that the young goalie only has 6 career shutouts in 137 starts, and has a record below .500.

So, uh, way to go guys?



It's not the stupidest contract I've ever heard of, but it's risky. If DiPietro turns out to have a NHL career as a starting goalie, then $4.5 million per will look pretty cheap in just a few years from now. But if he ever takes a puck off the grill and turns into Tommy Salo, then this contract will be the albatross of all albatrosses. No great reward ever came without great risk, but in a business environment like pro hockey this deal seems about as wise as building a KrustyBurger on an (unmanned) offshore drilling rig.

That's just it, Stef. $4.5M a year for a star goalie isn't a bad deal, and DiPietro has shown promise.

But 15 years is such a long time. The contract goes until he's 40. What if, as you mentioned, he gets hurt? Or what if he just stops playing at a high level? Happens all the time.

In '94, Ranger fans would have been thrilled to lock up Richter to a 15-year deal. Little did they know he had less than 5 years left to play.

If the deal wasn't completely guaranteed and had some sort of buy-out clause, it wouldn't have been bad. But the fact that they're on the hook for all the money no matter what is a mistake.

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