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Insider Only TIOPS Daily 5: Are NHL Star players too loyal to a fault?

DAILY FIVE (Penguins Edition)

*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*

1.       The NBA and NHL are on different planets. The NBA has evolved into a global, star driven sport, while hockey will always be a regional niche sport. The NBA has a great TV contract and despite no parity with only two or three teams having a realistic shot at winning the NBA title, the league has never been more popular and players have never made more money.
What the NBA off-season, though, continues to prove is how underpaid NHL players are, especially the star players.  How much is Sidney Crosby worth to the Penguins? $20-$25 million per season?
Connor McDavid just signed an 8 year – $100 million contract, while Tim Hardway Jr who’s probably not even one of the best 75 players in the NBA, just signed a 4 year, $71 million contract with the New York Knicks. Like Crosby, McDavid’s worth to the Oilers is over $20 million per season.  
The logistics of a hard cap system will always keep star players from being paid what they should and not to mention, clubs have to fill 21-23 spots against the cap, unlike the NBA where you can pay 3-4 players max contracts, have 3-4 average reserves making $8-$15 million per and fill out the rest of the roster with non-guaranteed contracts and you’ll be a great team.
The fascinating aspect between star NHL players and star NBA players is loyalty. NHL star players rarely jump ship and often sell themselves short in the long-term by taking the max term in return for a lower AAV or in the past before the new CBA (2013) — cheat deals –.

Connor McDavid took less percentage against the cap than Sidney Crosby did coming out of his entry level deal and he took the full eight year max term contract.

Crosby’s third contract doesn’t get talked enough of how team-friendly the deal is and how much he sold himself short in the long-term.
The loyalty of Sidney Crosby, his cheat deal in 2012 (12 years – $104.4 million) cost him millions in the long-run. Prior to Crosby signing his 12 year deal in June 2012, the Penguins and Crosby’s camp had two different scenarios, a 12-13 year deal or a five year deal with an AAV of $11.56 million that would be structured the same way the first five years of his current 12 year deal are.  
Crosby took the team friendly deal that will have him majorly under paid during the last seven years of the deal.
Crosby’s contract pays him $57.8 million in the first five seasons (2013-2014/2017-2018) and only $46.6 million over the last seven seasons of the deal, including just $9 million in the last three years of his contract.
The contract doesn’t end until he’s 37 years old, where he’ll make $3 million per season at age 35, 36, and 37.
If Crosby had taken the five year deal that many in his inner circle were pushing for him to take, Crosby would have been eligible to sign a new extension on July 1, 2017. Crosby would be getting an 8 year extension this summer with a blank check to name his price. Taking the cheat deal in 2012 cost him at least $30-$40 million.

NHL owners plan to lock out the players in a couple years again but they should be thankful at how they never have to stress about their stars leaving.

2.   Rick Tocchet has been the key cog in handling Phil Kessel and the worst news for anyone on the Penguins roster in Tocchet being the front-runner for the Arizona job is Kessel.
Mike Sullivan’s patience for Kessel had become razor thin this past season and the relationship between the two is not good.

As Kessel enters his 30’s, anyone believe he’s going to suddenly start blocking shots, caring about playing his own end?
Nothing’s official until it’s official but the Penguins have been drumming up a preliminary list of assistant coach candidates with expectations that Rick Tocchet is going to Arizona.  Mike Sullivan will have significant authority on the hire, in what will be his first assistant coach hire among the main staff.

What the Penguins will give zero credence on is hiring someone they feel can handle Phil Kessel. It won’t sway things in one direction.

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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