Contract Negotiation Hockey

On Their Own Island?

On September 13th, 2006, first reported that the New York Islanders locked up goaltender Rick Dipietro to a 15-year, $67.5 million deal [DiPietro’s record 15-year deal will pay him $67.5M]. The contract will allow the Islanders to keep DiPietro until just before he reaches 40 years old. A lot of media outlets have run stories on the deal. The question remains: is it a ridiculous contract for both sides, did the Islanders make a smart decision, did DiPietro do what was best for himself, or did both sides win?

The Islanders have a $44 million maximum payroll. DiPietro’s cut will take up $4.5 million each season over the next 15 years. It may look like the Islanders are shelling a lot of money out for him, but DiPietro will only be the 8th highest-paid goalie, and one must assume that he will drop relatively if maximum payrolls ever increase. If DiPietro is an elite player, it seems as though his roughly 1/10th cut of the payroll may not be an overvaluation. In addition, if maximum payrolls increase in the future, his cut would turn out to be a smaller percentage of the pie.

Scott Burnside of believes that the Islanders made a huge mistake by agreeing to a 15-year contract [Islanders make another senseless deal]. He believes that DiPietro is far from an elite player, and actually is not very good at all. 15 years for an average player may not make so much sense after all. But maybe the Islanders believe that there is huge upside to DiPietro and wanted to lock him up at a fairly cheap price compared to what he may be worth in the near future.

A SportsNation Poll shows that only 7.1% of respondents think that the Islanders made a good move and most people think that they length of the deal makes least sense. Public perception on contractual issues definitely matters. The Islanders only remain profitable as long as fans exist to attend games, buy merchandise, etc. Whether it is truly a good deal or not, if fans start jumping ship, the Islanders may end up being the losers by signing the contract.

The contract is guaranteed and if DiPietro has to retire because of an injury, he will be paid in full. If he retires for any other reason, the remaining money left on the contract will be forfeited.

There apparently is an issue with the deal that has been left unresolved, and the contract may be voided by the NHL [NHL May Not Approve DiPietro Deal]. Looking at NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly’s comments, it seems as though the deal will go through [Islanders sign DiPietro to 15-year deal]. DiPietro is going to kill Patrik Elias’s record deal length of 7-years, $42 million, and apparently, a Sports Agent believes that its a good deal for DiPietro [Islanders Sign Goalie Through the Year 2022].

What are your thoughts on the contract?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

3 replies on “On Their Own Island?”

I can’t remember where I read it but I saw somewhere that DiPietro’s GAA of 3.02 was 30th in the league although he did much better the season prior to the strike and he also is young and will most likely continue to improve rapidly. Even with all that however he most likely won’t reach elite goalie level he’s more likely to be a solid good goaltender. I’m not sure I understand the Islanders motives to do this deal. After the horrific Alexei Yashin deal that has hurt their salary cap already they make almost the same by offering a giant contract to someone who might not deserve it. Their only reaosn to do this is the saw something special in DiPietro that they love and they figured now was the time to get him at a bargain price. With this deal he could become the face of the franchise and help a team that is a perennial loser become more marketable.

On the other side as an agent or player I like this deal. If the guy gets injured early in his career he’ll still see a lot of money, he said he loves New York and was hoping to play there. The only negative is if a problem ever starts with a coach, management, or other player he’s immovable, no other team would take him.

Overall I like the deal for Rick DiPietro but think it’s a big chance for an Islander franchise that shouldn’t really be taking chances.

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