NOTE: I sat down with myself soon after the announcement was made that Ilya Kovalchuk had signed. Due to recent developments (THE NHL HATES THE DEVILS!), I was able to track myself down and conduct a brief, follow-up phone interview. Both parts are included here. Enjoy.
With the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17 year, $102 million dollar contract, I decided to sit down with myself and ask myself a few questions.
Why am I doing this? Well, with the sudden outburst of self-proclaimed “insiders” all over the NHL scene, I figured it was time to label myself as an insider. My rumors are just as good. The stories I break are just as quick as everyone else who reads them elsewhere and claims to be breaking them…and really, I know most of the stories before they break, I just can’t reveal the info until it’s public. My sources would be upset.
Okay, that all sounds pretty silly, right? You’d think so, but if I label myself an “insider“, it’s all fact! Who’ll challenge me? If they say I don’t have insider info, I’ll tell them I do, I just can’t reveal anything because of confidentiality! Brilliant! And if they do believe me, and my stories turn out not to be true, I can blame some sort of last minute snag that caused things to change. Brilliant!
So, without any further delay, my exclusive interview with myself, New Jersey Devils Insider, SpeakoftheDevs! (I am also a Guru and an Expert [I saw the replay!])
Q: First question, and the thing that’s really on everyone’s mind, what do you think of the Kovalchuk signing?
A: Well, Me, it’s impossible to not be happy about signing a player who is in his prime, and can almost guarantee 40+ goals and 90+ points per season. Some would say (including Lou Lamoriello himself) that a 17 year deal, for over $100 million dollars, is kind of crazy. I can’t disagree with that, but the 17 year deal lessens the cap hit each year. There is nothing illegal about it, and other teams have done it in the past (and will continue to do it if it benefits them). The people complaining that “this is a bad deal for the NHL” are the ones who didn’t get the player they wanted. As long as there are loopholes, clever owners/GM’s will find them.
Q: I’m sure you’ve seen, like I have, all the people saying Kovalchuk isn’t worth that type of money. Do you agree?
A: I’d like to find out who made the people making these claims some sort of “salary expert”. Does the high-priced lawyer who loses a case deserve the money he charged? Hell, half the people saying he doesn’t deserve the money are at work, tweeting their disgust at his salary. Do they deserve their money, considering they’re tweeting instead of working? I have to laugh at these members of the salary police. Of course, I think we can all agree the no one deserves that kind of money to play a game. But to be angry, or “disgusted” by it, just seems a bit over the top. I think that anger would be non-existent if it was a player they liked on a team they cheered for. Oh, and considering Kovalchuk will be the 30th highest paid forward in the league this coming season, while having the second highest goal total (2nd to Ovechkin) in the last four seasons, I think he’s worth it.
Q: I think most people are angry at the length of the deal. Do you have an issue with that?
A: As a fan of the Devils, no. The length helps lessen the cap hit every year, and that’s fine by me. Will I be saying the same thing 17 years from now, when the team has a $6 million cap hit for a 44 year old? Probably not. But it’s clear the Devils are playing to win NOW. If Kovlachuk helps the Devils win a few cups, that stuff really won’t matter.
Q: Does the Kovalchuk signing mean Parise is gone?
A: No. The people that are saying this signing means Parise is gone haven’t looked at some other teams around the league. The Washington Capitals pay their top four players just under $28 million, combined. That’s almost $7 million per player. Kovalchuk’s cap hit will be $6 million per season. No other player currently on the Devils gets paid more than that. Sure, some of the supporting cast will be gone, replaced by rookies or veterans hoping for a shot at winning a cup, but that doesn’t seem to hurt the Caps, since they did win the President’s trophy. (nice job by the NHL on updating their site). Will it help? Probably not. Does it mean Parise is gone? Not at all. I hear people saying teams will make Parise an offer next offseason (he’s a RFA) and the Devils won’t be able to match it. My reply: “What kind of offer will they be making that the Devils can’t match? An offer worse than what you feel Kovalchuk’s deal was?” I’ll say what I’ve been saying all along… Lou is a very smart man. If Kovy signing = no Parise, this deal wouldn’t have happened.
Q: Very well said. It’s no wonder you are an Insider. Moving on.. What can we expect from the Devils before the season begins?
A: Well, the first and most important thing they need to do is clear cap space. The easy solution would be to find a GM willing to take Brian Rolston and his $5+ million contract. If his salary was gone, and if the Devils replaced him on the roster with young players such as Tedenby and Josefson, they could field a 23 man roster that would be under the cap. If Rolston can’t be moved, it might have to be a combination of players with Salvador, Zubrus, and maybe even Langenbrunner the likely candidates to be moved.
Q: Certainly sounds like you know your stuff. Are you single?
A: I was told that I would not be asking myself any personal questions…
Q: Indeed. I’m sorry. Anyway, besides the cap issue, do you think the Devils are done making moves this off-season?
A: That’s a good question, Me. I’ve seen other “insiders” say that re-signing Mike Mottau is the Devils next priority. After I picked myself up off the floor from the sudden fall due to hysterical laughter, I reminded myself what that “insider” label means. It means a lot of things, but following the teams other moves (the ones not involving big names/sexy headlines) is clearly not one of them. Mottau is 32 years old, and was not fun to watch on defense, mainly because what he was doing out on the ice wouldn’t exactly be labeled as playing “defense”. The fact that the Devils signed Anton Volchenkov, 28, and Henrik Tallinder, 31, this off-season should be a strong sign that Mottau isn’t (and shouldn’t be) returning. Mark Fraser is going to arbitration, and he’s the only other defenseman that should be coming back. Johan Hedberg provides Brodeur with a solid backup who can finally step in and start 20-25 games, and help Marty stay healthy and fresh heading into the playoffs. Other than that, I don’t think the Devils have the room to make any other moves besides any player they might add via a trade. Also, anyone still suggesting a trade for Kaberle would be good should be mocked mercilessly.
Q: It might be a little early, but do you have any predictions about the Devils for this upcoming season?
A: Everyone laughed when I said the Devils would finish first in the Atlantic again last season. There will probably be a few less laughs when I repeat myself this season. I fully expect the Devils to make the playoffs for a 14th consecutive season. I also think Kovalchuk will top 40 goals and 80 points.
Q: How do you feel when someone suggests that you may be the greatest insider of all time?
A: I feel like it’s true. My success rate on fake stories is pretty high, and I report on things that have already been reported by others on a timely basis. I also have a pretty good ability to claim that I had knowledge of things that happened before they happen. It’s those pesky insider sources that keep me from revealing things before they’re made public. Don’t ask me who my sources are, I cannot disclose them. Also, if you ask me to verify a rumor, I will be as vague as possible and leave as many options open as possible, so that I can tie it in to the final result somehow. Oh, and don’t assume I’m talking about any sort of “buzz” site. There are people out there that are much worse, and you’d know it if you took the time to read their stuff, instead of just listening to their vague ramblings.
Due to recent events, I had to track down New Jersey Devils Super Reliable Source Insider Secret Awesome Guy, SpeakoftheDevs, and conduct a follow-up interview to get his thoughts on the NHL rejecting Kovalchuk’s contract, and what the Devils need to do now.
Q: So, you must have heard the news. The NHL rejected the contract. Your thoughts?
A: First of all, of course I heard! I’m an Insider. I knew the NHL was going to reject this contract even before the NHL knew. I’m that good. Secondly, I think Lou needs to buy a case of jam and start putting each jar to good use.
Q: So you’re (or is it I’m… ) saying that you think the NHLPA should fight this?
A: Yes. The Devils can’t do anything themselves, but the NHLPA should step in. Do I completely agree with the contract? No. Are they circumventing the cap? Absolutely. But is it illegal? Not at all. It’s also not the first contract that’s been structured like that. Why should the Devils be penalized, while other teams have players with similar contracts on the team, with many years left on their deals? The NHL may have said “enough is enough”, but again, there’s nothing illegal about it. It’s something that would have to be addressed when the next CBA is worked on, but for now, they have to see their mistake, learn from it, and not go after a certain player/team because of other teams’ use of the loophole.
Q: Spectacular. Even over the phone, or fingers in a phone-like shape put up to ones face to simulate a phone, you are very engaging and likeable. How do you do it?
A: This isn’t about me… but, it’s probably the fact that people are easily entertained.
Q: Indeed. Anyway, being an insider, what do you think will happen with Kovy?
A: Well, Me, being an insider means I don’t think anything… I know! I know Kovalchuk will still be a Devil after all is said and done. I’ve said it all along, and I will continue to say it. Sure, I may have hinted at the fact that Kovalchuk was close to being a L.A. King, but if I didn’t do that, my sources would have been kind of annoyed that I didn’t throw people off. I have to keep my sources happy, even if they have no idea they’re my sources and they only exist in my fucked up, made up world. That’s how this business works.
Q: What business is that?
A: The Insider business.
Q: Of course. Any final thoughts before I let myself go?
A: I think this whole thing is the NHL’s way of saying “We are serious about this, and these types of contracts have to end!” I still feel there is no way they can ultimately reject the contract. They have no way to prove a player can’t play into his mid-40′s. There are players in the league now that are of similar age, some who signed contracts this off-season. They can’t say this type of contract has never been signed before, because it has… multiple times… recently. I’m sure an arbitrator would agree. The fact that Lou knew the league was going to reject the contract and still went ahead with the press conference speaks volumes, I think, as to what he feels the outcome will eventually be.
That concludes this two-part interview with myself.
This just in via reliable sources: I am the greatest fake insider of all time! Confirmed!