Patrik Elias just demonstrated everything that I have wanted to ever teach about sportsmanship and loyalty. He signed with the Devils for $42M over 7 years, netting him a cool six million a year. While it’s a nice jump over where he is now, you have to frame it within two endpoints: during Elias’ first contract years, he felt like the Devils were underpaying him (they were), and most recently reports out of Montreal said that Bob Gainey had put an offer on the table to pay Patrik upwards of $7M a year. Elias could have asked a team for up to $8.8M a year, the maximum under the current salary cap.
He took a home team discount. He put loyalty and team above wallet.
In these days of free agency and market pricing, there are very few players who chose to stay with the team in which they make the show, let alone the team that drafted them. Patrik’s contract signing reminds me of Number 8 himself, Willie Stargell, who played his entire 21-year career with the Pirates, from being signed as an 18-year old to playing in their farm system to eventually having his likeness engraved in bronze in front of their stadium. Stargell was the heart and soul of the Pirates in the 70s, and Patrik will be the same for the Devils in the nineties, the naughties, and the teens.
All of our Czech merchandise is ready to be worn again, including the 3-by-6 foot Czech flag that I picked up in the Prague airport this week. You never know when you need to say mokrat dekuji, Patrik (Thanks, Patrick) visually from row 8 in the Meadowlands. I’m just thrilled we’ll be able to do that for the next few years.