Ive been reading a lot of comments about the Kovalchuk rejected contract. One of the points that Ive seen made many times is that Kovalchuk will play til he is 44, so whats the problem? Instead of arguing that, I thought Id approach the whole concept of playing at the age of 44.
Heres the thing about the age to which a player will play... if follows a bell curve just like height or mortality rates or intelligence or plenty of other things. Take a look at what I mean:
Consider as one example, player height- someone being 6ft tall is in the fairly meaty part of the bell curve. 6'2", a little more... even to 6'4 and 6'5" its still on the bell curve. However, once you start getting to 6'7, 6'8", the numbers fall- drastically. You could easily make a case that 6'7" is "only" two inches taller than 6'5".. and youd be absolutely correct in the most strict sense. You could also point out that on every team there are players that are separated by two or more inches. Again, youd be correct. However, this does NOT mean that it is in any way likely for a player to be 6'8"! Have there been people who are, say, 7'4"? Sure there have! But its so freakishly rare that pointing to that person does not make it any more likely that someone on your team is going to be 6'8"!
Age of retirement works pretty much the same way- along a bell curve. You can point to all the players who play to ages 37, 38, 39- and you are absolutely correct. You can even point to players who are 40 or 41 and there are a few- no argument here! Heck- we even have one in net for the Islanders! However- once you get to ages like 43, 44, it changes- drastically. Have there been players in their late 40s and even 50s? Sure- but, like the 7'4" person, they are so freakishly rare that pointing to them does not make it any more likely that a person is going to be playing hockey at 44 years of age. You could easily make a case that 44 is "only" two years older than 42... and youd be absolutely correct in the most strict sense. You could also point out that on every team there are players that are separated by two or more years. Again, youd be correct. However, this does NOT mean that it is in any way likely for a player to remain a viable part of an NHL team (and worthy of a SIX MILLION DOLLAR CAP HIT) at 44 years of age.
Kovalchuk playing until 44years of age- AT the NHL level, no less (because even if he is earning only 500 something K, it would be at a humungous 6M cap hit, which would be eliminated if he was waived and placed in the minors) is just not reality. Devils fans know this.. we ALL know this... and the NHL knows this.
Gordie Howe is like a 7'4" NHL hockey player.