Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sid the Kid and the Desire to Win

Sidney Crosby is in the last year of his NHL entry-level deal. Now, he's not eligible as an unrestricted free agent in 2012 but the Penguins still have sign him to a new deal. This means that he's about to get paid handsomely. Most would just assume that the Penguins would just sign him to a 10-year deal at the maximum allowable amount which is just over $10 million per year and be done with it. His statistics, contributions and accolades easily call for a maximum salary. Frankly, he's the best forward in the league right now.

However, information coming out of the negotiations says that Sidney Crosby doesn't want a max-salary deal like that. He obviously wants to get paid, who doesn't, and he clearly deserves it but he wants team assurances before signing such a deal. He wants to win, plain and simple. He wants to be a part of a team and is willing to take less salary in order to do it. Specifically, he wants to make sure that they are going to keep that young and talented nucleus of Whitney, Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Fleury together for a long time to come. They already inked Whitney to a 6 years deal so that's one player down. Malkin and Staal are still on their entry-level contracts and will be for the next couple of years. After that, they'll want to get paid too and in today's day and age it's incredibly difficult to retain all of your young talent. All it takes is one of those players on the list to have different priorities and the nucleus is broken. Regardless of how it turns out, it's refreshing to see a professional athlete who's desire to win exceeds his desire for a few extra million dollars.

A great example of the opposite mentality, and a player whom I never thought I would say this about, is Paul Kariya. I'm shocked that the 32 year old winger signed with the St. Louis Blues. He was being courted by teams that have the ability to win now and, instead, he took a big contract with a team that hasn't made the playoffs in what seems like an eternity. Maybe there is more to this story. Maybe he loves St. Louis. Maybe he loves the uniforms. Regardless, I was surprised that at his age he didn't want to play in Pittsburgh, who reportedly was offering $750k or $1 million less than St. Louis, Dallas or any of the other teams that were courting him, teams that will be playing for the cup next season. Oh well, at least he'll be a cheap veteran addition at the trade deadline when the Blues are looking up from well below the eighth playoff spot in the west.

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