The Washington Times, Jan. 12 To Leonsis, 13 years not scary at all
And a day after making the announcement to spend three times as much money as it took to build his state-of-the-art practice complex in Ballston on one player, Leonsis seemed just as happy and content as his very rich star.
"Alex was coming off his rookie contract, and he could have signed a four- or five-year deal," Leonsis said. "Sidney Crosby had signed a five-year deal. Then [Ovechkin] would have been an unrestricted free agent. We talked to him and we told him we would give him another year, to make it six years. That was the first deal we negotiated, and that is why it came to $9 million. Crosby did five years at $8.7 [million]. We were buying a year of free agency — $9 million a year over six years.
"We were all happy," Leonsis said. "We shook hands. We had a deal. Then it was, 'Do you want to stay longer?' And it was, 'Sure, what do you have in mind?' Then we did some research and asked, what is the average free agent deal, how long is it? Last year there were several seven year deals. So we thought, why not just negotiate his free agent deal now?
"So while $10 million sounded like a lot of money, I will bet you that in six years, when a player like Alex hits the free agent market, they are going to be paid a lot more than $10 million a year," Leonsis said. "Dany Heatley this year makes $10 million. That is how we broke it up — do his first year now, then let's negotiate his free agent deal. That is how it got to be 13 years."
Things change, though, in 13 years. People change. Money changes people. The Capitals believe, though, they have invested in as sure a thing as you can in an athlete, even with the uncertainties of any future.
"There aren't many players you could do this with," general manager George McPhee said. "We were comfortable doing it with Alex because he is a unique player. He has the physical tools and energy and intensity and body type to withstand the rigors of the NHL and the mental makeup to not change his game. One thing we know is that Alex is a very driven guy. His game won't change. Some people around him may change, who knows. But he won't."
Calgary Herald, Jan. 12 Flames give Ovechkin kudos, but debate merits of rich deal ($124M contract 'great' for players, risky for teams)
It's the enormousness of Ovechkin's payday that makes the idea of a 13-year commitment to an organization very palatable for players.
"Good for him," said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, who this past summer signed a comparatively paltry five-year, $35-million extension. "He's had an amazing start to his career. It's a long time and big commitment by the team, but he's been impressive."
"Great for him," chimed in Flames left-winger Alex Tanguay. "It's very well deserved. He's a great hockey player and he's very exciting for the league. If I was a fan, I would pay to see him play. He's that exciting, he's that good. And he's got such an enthusiasm for the game."
"When you have a chance to lock up one of your franchise guys for a long time," added DiPietro, "especially in this salary-cap age when it's tough to hang on to your franchise players. You want a guy who wants to be a part of your team for that long. It just seems like the smartest thing to do."
"As a former general manager," said Flames skipper Mike Keenan, "I just shake my head. I'm not sure where the league's going when we have to make those types of obligations. I know coming out of the lockout, Gary Bettman's instructions to his group of managers was to sign players for as little as possible and as short-term as possible. Obviously, that has not worked out.
"You start raising the bar," said Keenan, "and you set precedents and you've got real hard situations. It drives the financial commitments up for the owners for individual star players. That's the model, I guess, that we've fallen into."
"I think it's great for the players," said Tanguay. "I've never been an owner and I don't know what it's like to have that kind of money. To see those kinds of numbers for that many years? I don't know if it makes sense. Five years from now, he might have an injury and not be able to perform at the level he's performing right now. Let's say something happens tomorrow and he can't play for the rest of his contract. I don't know how long the insurance is for, but I'm sure the insurance won't pick up his whole contract. I think a five-, six-, seven-year deal for him would have been perfect to take him to his 30s. But to take him to 35? "But," he added with a shrug, "I guess the owners know a lot better than I do."
SI.com, Jan. 12 Lucky 13. Length of Ovechkin's record deal is huge risk for Caps
If you're a Caps fan, you have to love owner Ted Leonsis for living up to his word and going all in. He didn't just handcuff himself to a player who could challenge Sidney Crosby to define his generation. Leonsis locked in a talent magnet, one of those charismatic athletes that other stars, especially those with championship aspirations, gravitate towards. With their centerpiece all but guaranteed to retire a Cap, this is a deal that firmly asserts Washington as a franchise with a legitimate path to success.
...Think about it. Thirteen years. By the time Ovechkin's term in Washington expires in 2021, Americans will have elected four presidents. Canadians might sit enthralled as testimony before the Royal Commission Exploring Why We Didn't Win Gold at the 2018 Olympic enters its third, riveting year. Shoot, Chris Chelios might even have retired.
From Toronto Sun, Jan. 12 Signing Alexander Ovechkin is one thing, but the Capitals will have to spend a lot more if they have hopes of contending
It was a great thing for the Capitals in signing superstar Alexander Ovechkin on Thursday to the richest contract in NHL history, a mere $124 million US spread over 13 seasons, or a salary cap hit of $9.54 million annually.
As for the term of 13 years, it is excessive, but it's hard to believe Ovechkin's game is going to drop off any time soon. It eliminates the risk of losing him in his prime as an unrestricted free agent, with a richer team stepping forward and front-ending a contract with goofy money. The way the salary cap has been increasing, he may be something of a bargain down the road at $9 million or $10 million.
The Gazette, Jan. 12
The Washington star is the most exciting player in the NHL, and Ovechkin never takes shifts off.
James Murtle, Jan. 11
The original, six-year deal came with a guarantee that would keep the team's coffers full even if its star was sidelined. This one doesn't.
Ovechkin plays a beautiful brand of hockey, and his reckless style has made him beloved in Washington and a star across the league. As I said yesterday, he's on pace for a 60-goal season when we haven't seen one in 12 years.
But his style also puts him at risk.
You know what? Here's hoping he can defy the odds and have a long, productive career playing that way, and that his contract does ultimately end up being a bargain. If any town needs a hero for its hockey team, it's Washington.
I just don't know that I'd take that bet.
Canes Country, Jan. 11
Will Staal ever be in line for a huge contract like Alexander Ovechkin signed yesterday? The 13 year, 124 million dollar deal is unbelievable, but very few are questioning whether or not Ovechkin is worth it. In my opinion, if you are going to tie up that much money on a single player, it might as well be for him.
From Miami Herald, Jan. 11 Alex joins NHL's upper class
The player is Alexander Ovechkin, who at the age of 22 has signed the richest contract in league history, inking a 13-year, $124 million deal that will keep him in D.C. for a long, long time.
This strategy of throwing loads of money and years into a deal is one that is becoming increasingly popular amongst NHL clubs. The idea is to identify a franchise player and lock him up before any other team tries to pry him away through free agency.
The Capitals shouldn't have to worry about getting bang for their buck on Ovechkin, who despite his youth is already one of the most prolific scorers in the league. The Russian sniper has recorded 250 points (130 goals, 120 assists) in the first 206 games of his career and is off to another stellar campaign in 2007-08 with 52 points (32g, 20a) through 43 contests.
Still, whether or not this contract is considered a smart move for the Capitals will likely be determined not by Ovechkin's point production, but rather his ability to get Washington into the NHL's elite.
Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie in 2005-06, but he has yet to lead his team to the postseason. The Capitals are currently outside the playoff picture once again this year, but still have plenty of time left in the season to change that.
What Ovechkin should be concentrating on currently is how he can take a greater leadership role on a team that is now clearly designed to go only as far as he can take it. His talent and competitive drive should already command a significant amount of respect in the Washington locker room, but now Ovie has to show his teammates that he also knows how to lead a team to victory.
The Hockey News, Jan. 11 Is Ovie worth that much dough?
Sidney Crosby may be the face of the NHL, but Ovechkin is the league’s personality. On the ice, the young Cap has two attributes that are in short supply in the NHL: dazzling speed and pure scoring skill. And he’s only getting better; he’s barely 200 games into his NHL career.
Greg Wyshynski, Jan. 11 With That Contract, He's Officially 'A.O.-Rod'
So when I heard a six-year contract late Thursday afternoon, it made sense. When I heard 13 years for $124 million in the evening, it knocked me on my ass, picked me up, kicked me in the stones and then shoved me over a second-floor balcony into a dumpster of recycled glass.
Of top ten reactions to Ovechkin's signing, this would be number 2. The number one, of course, goes to Crosby.