Hello everybody! This is my very first post as a member of your fine establishment. How did I discover this site? Well, as the daylight of July 1st waned and the moon rose in the sky, with it rose the feelings of frustration and sinking helplessness that were unavoidable for a Devils fan. Only several hours prior, the promise of perhaps the league's greatest purest goal scorer seemed to sparkle and gleam as brilliantly as that daytime sun, allowing us to bask in the warm and comforting radiance of a shining star's offensive power. When the brightness of that glow had dimmed too far, I went searching for explanations. I found In Lou We Trust.
Like every fan that has been spurned by the promise of something great, my initial reaction to the Kovalchuk saga was one of blame. We are only human, and when we are confronted by deep disappointment, it is only natural to try and identify someone on whom we can unload the burden of our disenchantment. We have placed this burden on Ilya Kovalchuk.
But this post IS NOT about Ilya Kovalchuk; rather, it is about every time we sports fans try to argue that a player should take less money to stay with his team, or should hold loyalty above monetary considerations. I already see this argument playing out with regard to Zach Parise.
Consider this comment, which I just read in another post:
--"do the right think parise and stay in NJ for 6mill or so, dont be greedy like some player we know" -- Jul 18, 2010 9:39 AM PDT
I know this won't be a popular opinion, but here it goes: if Parise doesn't stay with us because he wants an extra million a year, he is completely justified in doing so. We are rabidly devoted to our team. We, as fans, must nurse constant disappointment, year in and year out. But Zach (and Kovy, and anyone else) cannot be blamed for wanting more money.
When we say things like this, we forget the human element. These players are human beings, not inanimate blocks on which we build a team that will make us happy. Please, consider these points before you chastise a player in this situation:
- Most importantly: The job that these players have is, by its very nature, precarious in every sense of the word. No matter how great a player is, his job is far from guaranteed beyond even tonight's game. At any moment, his career can be ended by an injury. If he is, say, 25 years old, what happens when his career ends tonight? If he is a player who has received the usual NHL salary, maybe he has saved $4 or $5 million so far, and maybe $10 million is he's Parise and he has been very, very frugal. He's now 25, has a wife and three kids, and was hoping to retire with them after his career finished. His family was hoping for this too. Unfortunately, he didn't save enough to support him and his family forever. But he could have signed a contract where he would have made $2 million more a year, and now he hates himself for passing that up. Why should a player sacrifice that security out of loyalty to his team? Considering this, let's look at my next point:
- Let's say there is a player who is going to sign a ten year contract. He has a wife and three children. He wants an extra $2 million a year. Over ten years, this adds up to $20 million! Can you imagine going home to you wife and children and trying to explain why you gave up $20 million for your family?
- We also forget that a significant amount of a player's salary goes to his agent and taxes. You may be thinking that a player like Parise, having played for several years now with a significant salary, has saved up well over $10 million. But nearly 40% of that salary every year goes to taxes. Another portion has gone to his agent. What if he has a family? How much do they contribute to his expenses every year? We think that a player making $5 million a year for five years has made $25 million, but depending on his expenses (especially a family), he probably hasn't even saved close to half of that. What happens when his career ends tonight? He is 25, with a wife and three young children, and the security that they all thought they had may not last forever, and certainly the quality of life they have had will not last for very long at all. He now has to tell his kids why they won't be able to live the way have known for their entire lives, and that perhaps in ten years, daddy will have to go do something else, even though everybody thought they had enough money to be happy forever.
Sure, we can say, "so what? He'll have to go out and get a job like everyone else." But the point is that it didn't have to be that way. He had a chance to make sure that he could retire after his career, that he and his family would be able to live the life they wanted, and he gave up that opportunity because he loved his fans, and his fans demanded that he be loyal.
In the end, we should all consider what we would do in a player's situation when it comes to these decisions, and we should be honest with ourselves about it. We can say that we would be loyal and take $1 or $2 million less a year, but go take a look at your family and ask yourself if you would really want to do that. Are there greedy people in the NHL? Sure, they're everywhere. Might it be the case that Kovalchuk is one of them? Of course! But it is unfair to say unequivocally that greed is his sole motivation when he demands more money. In the case of a player wanting to make $10 million instead of $8 million a year for ten years, I would say greed is even pretty likely, but it is unfair to say that this is the absolute truth. And when it comes to someone like Zach, who's young and hasn't made the huge bucks for many years? Well, in that case, we should just keep our mouths shut completely when he demands more than the Devils can pay and he goes elsewhere.