May 20, 2018
By Danny Radical
Part one of this piece discussed the impact John Tavares has had on the guys who skate right next to him, titled the JT economy. Part two described the effect that JT has on his line mates bank accounts, and what happens to production when those line mates stop being line mates. Part three will deal with how the JT economy enriched guys who skated near him, guys who watched him skate, and ultimately how face of the franchise John Tavares will have an economic impact of over $1 billion dollars during his career.
After discussing in depth the impact of John Tavares on many of the wings that have benefited from skating near him, today’s focus will be on the guys who skate behind him.
One of my favorite Islanders to watch was Lubomir Visnovsky. When the Isles acquired Lubo, he didn’t want to come here. He threatened to retire. After playing out his contract as an Islander, sharing a power play with John Tavares, Lubo signed on for 2 more years at over $9 million dollars. Injuries kept Visnovsky from living up to that contract, but the JT economy made Visnovsky over $9 million extra dollars that he would not have gotten if he retired.
Another defenseman, James Wisnewski, was acquired be their main offensive defenseman by the Islanders on a very bad 2010-11 hockey club. Wiz was signed by the Anaheim Ducks to a 1 year UFA contract at just over $3.25 million, but the team really didn’t want Wiz anymore. His job was about to be replaced by Cam Fowler- another missed Garth Snow draft opportunity- who was about to put up 40 points as a rookie defenseman.
Anaheim traded Wiz to the Islanders. Playing with Tavares, he began the by far greatest offensive season of his entire career. He even gestured to Sean Avery in the greatest Islander television moment of the last 10 years.
Garth Snow saw the JT economy about to take place, and he made a decision. Does an awful Islanders team spend resources on a guy that is flourishing in an offensive role, or do we trade that guy for something as awesome as a 2nd round pick? Yeah, that pick looks nice.
Wiz was traded to Montreal for a 2nd round pick. In Montreal, Wiz kept up that offensive pace. 21 points in 32 games as an Islander, 30 points in 43 games in Montreal. 51 points in 75 games on the year as the Wiz helped push Montreal into the playoffs.
And for that amazing offensive season? The JT economy kicked in- 6 years, $33 million. Did Wiz ever exceed that year that he encountered JT? Nope. He did return to that form just once, much like PA Parenteau did, but that’s about it. Wiz didn’t even see the end of that contract. He was traded twice and bought out, the buyout ending this past April.
There’s also players who Tavares smiled upon that led to some interesting deals. Ryan Strome trained with Tavares in the offseason. That’s worth $2.5 million a year for 2 years. Cal Clutterbuck played with Tavares as a kid. That’s worth initially doubling his salary for 3 years, then adding another half a decade to his contract for a total of $28.5 million.
Friend Jordan Eberle brought his $6 million deal to town..lets see if that gets extended in upcoming days.
Oddly enough, even though JT played with PK Subban back in the day, somehow Snow never made that acquisition happen despite the friendship between JT and Subban. Subban ends up as the unemployment of the JT economy. Maybe Garth Snow is racist? I bet Joshua Ho-Sang wonders that same thing.
It’s time to think that JT should be the first ever active player/agent. If he took 10% of what he gets other people, he’d greatly enhance his career earnings. Bailey alone would be ponying up $4 million alone.
Despite players, there are some guys that have benefitted in ways that are not explainable in single season deals. No, sometimes we need to step back and look at the bigger picture of the JT economy.
The first person that isn’t a skater that has benefitted from the JT economy in ways that are completely incapable of understanding is Garth Snow.
Snow has used the first half of JT’s career, and a large chunk of his prime, to do a whole lot of nothing. The only thing Snow did with Tavares was use him as job security, as Snow has convinced the owners that he alone is the only guy able to keep JT within the organization. The JT economy has kept Snow employed through the Wang era, and for 100% of the Ledecky and Malkin era. And if those rumors of the Golden Parachute are true, then Tavares is 100% responsible for that provision to exist.
Snow even wanted the team to be compensated for Tavares being injured in the Olympics, he’s that tied to the fortunes of Tavares.
Then there’s Charles Wang. After convincing Snow on draft day to take Tavares and not Matt Duchene, Wang watched a franchise that he purchased for $165 million dollars with a criminal partner turn into a $520 million sale. Not to be cast out of the ownership situation, Wang took a lesser price to retain 20% ownership of the team. The JT economy provided $300 million to Charles Wang, as well as allowing another sale of team assets.
Tavares has made money for the owners of the Barclays Center. While Brett Yormark did the worst possible job in integrating the Islanders into the Brooklyn community, he created a silver lining. After the remodeled Nassau Coliseum reopened, the Islanders promptly sold out a preseason game there. The JT economy returned to the arena Kate Murray tried so hard to kill and sold it out. Not only that, but the upcoming Islanders games for 2018-19 at the Coliseum are more than half sold out, and it’s only May. The JT economy helps Yormark and his terrible Brooklyn entertainment.
And what about Belmont? Wasn’t Tavares there for the announcement? With his buddy Clutterbuck? Islanders owners Ledecky and Malkin leveraged the JT economy to create an entire new arena in Belmont, at the cost of a billion dollars. In the long run, this will allow these owners to sell the team complete with an arena and the accompanying tax breaks for not using public funds to build on public land for over a billion dollars. 40 years of not paying taxes on a multimillion dollar property and the revenue it creates is a fantastic tax loophole of the JT economy.
There’s one last person who will benefit from the JT economy. That is JT himself. As we enter the summer of 2018, John Tavares is an unrestricted free agent. Tavares has a lot of options, but the most expected two are the following:
– resign with the Islanders for an 8 year deal around $10 million a year
– sign with another franchise for 7 years and around $10 million per year.
This is a difficult decision. As per part one of this article, Thomas Vanek left a lot of money on the table to take an offer to make his famliy happy and to increase his odds of winning without having to be the focus of the offense of any team.
Tavares is already a multimillionaire. At this point he has to decide how he wants to accumulate the next giant bucket of money that he will surely get. This is the demand side versus supply side of the JT economy. My guess? He’s leaving for greener in the win column pastures.
Tavares will still get a massive payday, just not as massive. But he’ll also get a shot at the Stanley Cup, which is something that the JT economy can not create on its own. Or maybe Tavares does a sign and trade and gets the best of both worlds- an 8 year $84 million deal, and a shot at winning under competent management.
After creating about $100 million for himself, and over a billion for others, the JT economy is alive and well. It’s a unique economic phenomenon that is rarely seen in sports. He’s made millions for undeserving players, tens of millions for himself, hundreds of millions for owners, a billion for New York State, exposure for the Winter Olympics (where he’s a gold medalist) and ancillary millions for the NHL which spreads across every team in the league.
And what have the Islanders done to grow this situation? How have they invested in the JT economy? By running the team at a salary cap floor for a large part of his career. By giving him some of the shittiest free agent line mates in recent NHL history. By combing the waiver wire and the AHL for retrograde players. By making non-impact trade deadline deals, if they even bothered to try that season.
To let teammates he liked leave the team without a contract offer. To acquire teammates that had no prior chemistry with Tavares because they’re buddies with the Assistant to the General Manager. To not even bother to develop a defense that could take a scoring burden off of JT. To offer his agent a chance to oversee the team, but not improve the roster. To trade for a goalie just to get a cap hit without improving the team. To hire career minor league coaches. To make the coaching staff every man’s NHL training wheels.
And the most egregious of all, the team didn’t even bother to make a contract offer to JT after July 1, 2017.
The Islanders clearly have no regard for their economic engine. And because of such, there’s a greater and greater chance that they’ll see Tavares a lot less frequently next season- maybe only twice, if he signs with Las Vegas. Maybe 5 or so times if he ends up with Taylor Hall in New Jersey, who the Islanders could have acquired to play with Tavares if they were willing to part with Travis Hamonic for more than a 12th and 43rd draft pick.
We’ll all be watching the Tavares drama unfold as the team owners flounder at trying to right the front office and the front office holds on to their jobs like a Kate Winslet grabbed a board off of the Titanic. Here’s some predictions- come October, Dough Weight is head coach. Garth Snow is GM. And John Tavares is a richer man, but not playing for more of the same.