In addition to being long, mind-numbing and irritating, LeBron James' hour-long decision special on ESPN might have opened a huge can of worms for the world of sports. The show may have been the first of its nature, but it could be far from the last.
According to the New York Post, one of Canada's national outlets has formally proposed that free-agent hockey sensation Ilya Kovalchuk announce his decision in a LeBron-esque manner.
The outlet would like to host a one-hour special that would include Kovalchuk’s decision, much like ESPN did leading up to James' decision to sign with the Miami Heat.
Sure, it sounds ludicrous to think that James' special may have set a precedent for future free-agent stars, but despite all of the criticism aimed at him and ESPN, the special drew a massive audience.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the special called "The Decision" drew 9.95 million viewers, or 6.96 million households, which equals a 7.0 national rating. The telecast was the highest-rated show of any cable or broadcast program Thursday night.
So while Kovalchuk may not have LeBron James' star status, especially given hockey's lack of popularity in some markets, the 27-year-old winger is still one of the sport’s brightest young stars and is slated to make a lot of money and have a major impact on whatever team he signs with.
The Post reports that the New Jersey Devils have offered Kovalchuk a 17-year contract worth over $100 million. The deal would be the longest in NHL free-agent history, surpassing the 12-year deal that Marian Hossa signed with the Chicago Blackhawks last year.
Kovalchuk was traded to the Devils in February and scored 10 goals and dished out 17 assists in 27 games with his new club. He played the previous seven-and-a-half seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers, and has now amassed 338 goals in his career. He has scored more than 29 goals in every season that he’s been in the league, including scoring over 40 goals six times and over 50 goals twice.
The Russian native has only played in the playoffs twice, including last season, but New Jersey would likely present him with the opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup on a yearly basis.
Also thought to be interested in the goal scorer’s services are the Los Angeles Kings and a team from the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
A special in which Kovalchuk announces his decision may not have the hype, drama or viewership that James’ special did, but it would surely generate plenty of interest in certain markets, particularly in New Jersey and areas north of the border.
Given the resentment that many now feel toward James for his decision to hold "The Decision," it may be in the Russian's best interest to take a more traditional route.
What Kovalchuk plans to do and how he plans to do it remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the skillful winger’s bank account is about to skyrocket regardless of his actions.