The Chicago Blackhawks recently signed both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to eight year contracts worth $10 million a year. That’s a long time, and a lot can change in eight years.
That’s what this Hockey News article should’ve said. Two sentences. That’s it. Instead, the reader is given synopses of four different players and what’s happened to them in the past eight or so years as a cautionary tale about the length of contracts for star players – at least I think that’s the purpose of this article.
First, there’s the not-so-subtle comparison between Dany Heatley and Patrick Kane. On the ice, that comparison probably isn’t the best. While Heatley was dynamic during his tenure with the Atlanta Thrashers, he wasn’t Patrick Kane dynamic. Kane and Toews have brought two Stanley Cups to Chicago. Would Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk done the same for Atlanta? Probably not, partially because of the composition of the teams around them and partially because they’re not Kane and Toews. So, what other comparison could be made between Kane and Heatley? Is Jason Kay trying to insinuate that Kane may be involved in a terrible accident like Heatley was? Is he saying that he could demand a trade out of Chicago because of whatever pressures arise from playing there? Does Kay believe that Kane will demand a trade, get sent to San Jose, and then see his production numbers plummet before he’s 33?
The next cautionary tale is Joe Thornton, he who won the Hart Trophy nine years ago at age 26 and hasn’t done jack squat since. “Jack squat,” to Kay, means winning the Stanley Cup, I’ll assume. Thornton’s numbers show that he’s done jack and squat, but since to some the only measure of a player’s quality is the Stanley Cup, Thornton’s apparently a specter of warning for the Blackhawks. Thank God Kane and Toews have already won it twice.
Brad Richards is mentioned, because hey, why not?
Finally, Sidney Crosby is dished out as a “what could happen.” I’ll assume Kay means this from an injury standpoint, because if Sid is “what could happen” when you sign your marquee players to long term deals, then every team needs to get out the pen and paper, stat.
I’m not sure where Kay is going with his article. “Stuff happens” could’ve been the title, and it would be correct. Stuff does happen, but you can’t possibly plan your roster out of paranoia. Toews could, God forbid, have a career ending injury next season. Or, more than likely, he could not. There are more compelling things to be concerned with when you look at this long term deal. “What if” shouldn’t be one of them.