HockeyIndependent, I am frustrated. Like Brian Burke trying to get a decent return for a mediocre Tomas Kaberle frustrated. Why? The NHL’s salary cap.
Before you fling your arms forward in a somewhat awkward way of agreeing with me (I’m not the only one who does this, right?), know that my cap frustration probably differs from yours a little. For the record, I actually like the NHL having a salary cap.
My beef has more to do with those in the media (and fans to a lesser extent) who blame the salary cap (and only the salary cap) for Chicago losing nearly a third of their roster this summer.
Like most of you, I shutter when TSN – a fine sports network – gives Dave Hodge an opportunity to voice a hockey opinion. I find Hodge’s stance on the salary cap half-baked to say the least. I’m paraphrasing here, but during TSN’s Free Agent Frenzy coverage on Thursday, Hodge basically gave his condolences to Hawks fans saying “… the salary cap really screwed you, Hawks fans.”
That made me hit my boiling point on the matter. It’s not the cap’s fault several key RFAs – Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker, Ben Eager, Troy Brouwer and others – weren’t qualified on time last summer. Do you think Versteeg would have gotten $3 Million per season if qualified properly? It’s also not fair to blame the cap for Dale Tallon signing Dustin Byfuglien to a pretty rich $3 Million per year contract early on in his career. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge supporter of Tallon’s. But to blame the Hawks financial situation (and subsequent trades) on the cap isn’t entirely accurate.
The salary cap shouldn’t be the sole focus within the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Another important element in the CBA is the Entry Draft and lottery pick rules that were established some time ago. In 2007, Chicago were fortunate enough to move from the Draft’s 5th overall pick to 1st overall thanks to that lottery. I’m not sure but I think that 1st overall pick played a significant role in the Hawks Stanley Cup win last month.
For as much as the CBA/salary cap has hurt Chicago, it’s helped them too. I don’t see how Hodge and others can blame the salary cap for the Hawks “demise” (let’s face it, they’re still a strong team) without making so much as an acknowledgement of how and what has gotten Chicago out of the NHL’s basement. The same thing goes for Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Washington and others.
Unfortunately Hodge and many others in the media forget to mention this. Luckily most hockey fans are smarter than that. If you still blame the salary cap for some of Chicago’s transactions, you obviously haven’t been paying attention. I for one don’t blame the salary cap for some of the Hawks recent transactions.
Stay classy, NHL salary cap.
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