SBD/June 29, 2012/Franchises

Crosby's 12-Year, $104.4M Deal Will Not Be A Hard Hit On Penguins' Salary-Cap

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Crosby has not played an injury-free season since '09-10
Penguins GM Ray Shero and CAA Hockey co-Head Pat Brisson on Thursday "finalized a 12-year, $104.4 million contract extension" for C Sidney Crosby, according Rob Rossi of the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW. The deal, which begins with the '13-14 season, "is the longest and richest in terms of guaranteed dollars for any local professional athlete, and Crosby's $8.7 million average annual salary will continue to rank second in the NHL." Crosby was "eligible to command 20 percent of the salary cap, which was set yesterday at $70.2 million, pending a new CBA to replace the one that expires in September." More than "any NHL player, he could afford to leave money at the bargaining table." Crosby is an "endorsement magnet by hockey standards." The most "recognizable of his long-standing business partnerships" are with Reebok, Pepsi and Tim Horton's. The Crosby "brand will benefit from his commitment to the Penguins, whose local television rating were highest for any NHL or NBA team last season" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 6/29). In Pittsburgh, Dave Molinari notes Shero and Brisson "were tinkering with some details, trying to make certain the money in the contract is structured in a way that the league office won't balk at approving." The NHL's concern about "long-term contracts set up that way is that the team could be trying to reduce the salary-cap hit by adding several seasons at a significantly reduced salary at a time when the player might be inclined to retire" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/29).

RISKY BUSINESS: The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle writes given Crosby's concussion history, this "could well be the riskiest contract signed by a team in NHL history." The Penguins are "likely on the hook for the full value of Crosby's contract even if he suffers another head injury and can no longer play, which could hurt the franchise's bottom line for years." The good news in that scenario "is his contract could still be placed on injured reserve to free up salary-cap space for a replacement" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/29). YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote, "This is a risk the Penguins had to take, and look at what could go right: The Penguins could have the best player in hockey for the rest of his career, at a salary-cap hit that allows them to surround him with a strong supporting cast." Cotsonika: "He was the Penguins. He is the Penguins. There is still uncertainty. There always is with concussions." But Crosby's value to the Penguins "goes beyond that of a normal superstar." It is the Penguins' "money on the table, no one else's" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/28). SB Nation's Bomani Jones said, "Despite Crosby’s injury issues, he still has an amazing amount of leverage because he’s the biggest star in the NHL. If you’re Pittsburgh, you do what it takes to keep him.” ESPN’s Jemele Hill said it “doesn’t seem like you should give someone that kind of money with a history of head injuries." Hill: "But he’s the face of the league, and you’ve got to keep that guy.” However, ESPN’s J.A. Adande said, “That’s too much money to invest in a guy who’s one hit away from maybe having to hang up his skates” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/28). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “Wish him good health. That’s a long time for a guy with concussion history” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/28).

ADDED VALUE
: ESPN.com's Craig Custance wrote it is a deal "that has immediate ramifications extending beyond Crosby's paycheck." The Penguins "dramatically enhance their value as a free-agent destination." The annual cap hit of $8.7M "means the Penguins still have cap space to work with moving forward." Additionally, the deal "shows a willingness to gamble on a player with concussion issues." This is something "to which other players who have experienced similar problems will no doubt point." In some cases "insurance can protect teams in case of an injury, but even that has limits" (ESPN.com, 6/28).

QUICK MONEY: In L.A., Helene Elliott noted the Kings have "reached an agreement on a 10-year contract extension" with Stanley Cup Conn Smythe Trophy winning G Jonathan Quick. They did it "at a reasonable price that should give them room to upgrade their scoring on the left side through a free-agency splash or trade." The deal is "worth $58 million over 10 years, with the biggest portion due in the first seven years." The average annual value of $5.8M is "manageable enough to fit under whatever salary cap the next labor deal will bring, even if owners get the big salary decreases they're expected to pursue." Ten years is "a long time to commit to a player," but the Kings are "paying for what Quick has already achieved and could easily accomplish again" (L.A. TIMES, 6/29).
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