The big three (with the NHL, four) sports leagues make a lot of money through TV, corporate boxes, and merchandising. In turn, they pay exorbitant sums for talent. In some cases, it turns out to bite them in the butt, sometimes not. In the court of public opinion, where the average fan makes in a lifetime what some players make in one year, most free agent contracts look egregiously huge. Take the David Beckham deal with the LA Galaxy in 2007. It was reported that the Galaxy were going to award him $250 million for five years, when in fact it was $32.5 million, or $6.5 million per year. But, he could have opted out in 2009 after just three seasons. Consider, too, that he was making money with AC Milan while on off-season loan. What did the Galaxy get for the well-past-his-prime Becks? He scored 18 goals in 98 games, none in the MLS playoffs. Hmmm.
Good thing contracts pay for what an athlete did before, especially where Gomez is concerned. No one could fault him for leaving Lou Lamoriello and the stingy New Jersey Devils in 2007. However, the $51.5 million contract he signed with the cross-town rival Rangers soon became an anchor around Glen Sather’s neck. Gomez’ production actually went up his first season in the Big Apple, but ended up being trade bait after a so-so 2008-09 season and an early exit from the playoffs for New York. Upon a trade to Montreal, Gomez would go on to have the infamous distinction of going 60 games without a goal, which sent the Quebec press into a feeding frenzy. The lack of production and the monster salary saw Gomez become a rather large compliance buyout after the last lockout.