As Ilya Kovalchuk just signed a stupid 17 year contract that takes him to age 44, I decided to run some numbers.
Missing from these lists: Andy Bathgate (42) and Harry Howell(43) because they played those years in the WHA, and Theo Fleury(42?) because he only played preseason, and Mark Recchi(43) because he hits 43 next season.
Also, because the cutoff for hockey-reference (Feb. 1) is not the end of the season, you can also make a case for adding Dave Keon, Tommy Albelin, Ed Belfour, and Curtis Joseph to this list. This makes 26 players in the history of the NHL/WHA (I may have missed a few 41 year old WHA players but i don't care enough to recheck)
Players at 40: A lot
Players at 41: >50
Players at 42:
Players at 43: 14 (1 WHA and assuming Recchi doesn't randomly retire in the next 3 months, and 5 goalies)
Players at 44:
8 7* (3 goalies)
EDIT: * - I have removed one of the goalies (Moe Roberts, 46) because he was played for one period under the "If all your goalies are unable to play, you may put anybody in goal" rule. (He was the Blackhawks assistant trainer, and hadn't played pro hockey in six years)
I also removed Lester Patrick(43) because he was the coach/GM(/defensemen/emergency goalie) of the Rangers, and he also was played under the "If all your goalies are unable to play, you may put anybody in goal" rule. From Wikipedia:
Patrick is famous for an incident which occurred during the Stanley Cup finals of 1928. At the age of 44, while serving as coach and general manager of the Rangers, Patrick inserted himself into a playoff game to play goal against the Montreal Maroons due to an eye injury to starting goaltender Lorne Chabot.
Note: he also did this one time in the regular season the year before.
It isn't a stretch to suggest that age 41 will be his last in the NHL, but he may well play in the AHL at age 42 and thus still be paid under the contract. Therefore, the last two years (or probably three) of this contract should be nullified. 42 was a reasonable arguement. 44 is not.
SEVEN PLAYERS IN HISTORY PLAYED AT 44, AND THREE WERE GOALIES (and one extended his career so he could play with his sons). Therefore, it is clear that there is no real chance of the signed player ever playing all the years in their SPC, and therefore it should be considered a circumvention of the cap.
Here’s another way of looking at it:
1248 players in history have played at least 500 games in the NHL. 4 of them played when they were age 44. (.32%) If you to restrict to only inactive players, there are 1042 retired players, of which 3 played when they were age 44 (Chelios is still active), or .28%. (.38% if you declare Chelios to be retired.)
If some GM or owner doesn’t write this exact letter to Gary Bettman, they should all be fired. Every one of them. (Well, maybe with more lawyer-speak and less rage, that or just changing the font to Comic Sans)
Also, in the years he’s making 11.5 million,
36,000$ ~28,000$ (Thanks Skinny for running numbers!) of that paycheck comes directly from Alex Ovechkin thanks to the wonders of escrow. Maybe he should complain too.
I feel better now. Numbers always make me feel better.