Date of Last Contract:December 13, 2000
Signed Through: 2003-2004 Season
Caps hand Konowalchuk new deal
By Dave Fay
The Washington Times
Thursday, December 14, 2000
Washington Capitals yesterday locked up Steve Konowalchuk through the 2003-04 season, a deal done with no rancor that seemingly left everybody happy.
Konowalchuk, the workaholic every scorer wants as his left wing, signed a four-year contract that will pay him a total of $6.15 million plus bonuses, starting with $1.5 million this season. He had been making $850,000, and even general manager George McPhee agreed he was underpaid.
"Kono deserves everything he gets,'' coach Ron Wilson said. ``He works as hard as any player I've ever had. I'm happy for him.''
For his part, Konowalchuk appeared pleased he was going to be a Cap for the foreseeable future, just as he had been for the first nine years of his NHL career.
"It's a good sign that I'll be here for a few more years,'' he said. "Now I don't have to worry about playing out my contract and what might happen next. As long as they want me, I'll be here -- for at least the next three and a half years.''
Only Peter Bondra (10) has more goals than Konowalchuk's eight. Konowalchuk is tied for fourth on the team in scoring with 17 points, but those are the bonuses. It is how Konowalchuk (and linemates Ulf Dahlen and Jeff Halpern) plays the game that makes him so valuable.
Konowalchuk is a tireless checker who takes and gives a pounding to gain possession of the puck. He is as aggressive and can be as nasty as Dale Hunter was in his prime, only Konowalchuk is not as prone to drop his gloves. Konowalchuk and Dahlen often battle three or more opponents for possession behind the opposition's net, waiting for Halpern or another Cap to get open for a quality shot.
"That's just the way I play; I try to play hard,'' Konowalchuk said. ``I don't think I could change my style; if I did I don't think I would be as effective. Hopefully, the body holds up.''
A few years ago there were some doubts in that area. In 1997-98 he played the entire regular season only to undergo wrist surgery the day after the season ended. He missed the playoffs the year the Caps went to the Stanley Cup finals, something that still frustrates him. The following season he missed 37 games with a variety of injuries, but he hasn't missed a game since.
"It puts a prospective on your career when you've had a run of bad luck,'' he said. ``To this day I haven't forgotten that. In a sense it made me a better player because you realize you have to take advantage of the opportunities you have to play. You never know what tomorrow could bring.''
Said McPhee: ``He's the foundation, the guy you build a championship team with. He's a low maintenance guy who just comes to work. He was underpaid; now he's more appropriately paid.''
Said Wilson: ``What you're seeing now, the way the game is coached, everybody wants a team with a number of Steve Konowalchuks because of how much effort they give you every night. I'm just lucky to have him as one of my players. Other teams appreciate what he does, but nobody appreciates it more than we do.''