Does anybody else have a hard time figuring out the way the NHL does business? The fans of the NHL were forced to miss out on an entire season of NHL hockey in 2005 when the owners of the NHL decided to lock out the players and force them into a salary cap. Now, I am a fan of the salary cap, it puts all 30 teams on a level playing field and the best managed, developed and coached teams are the ones that are winning the Stanley Cup. The fact that there hasn’t been a repeat winner since the 90’s is probably due to the fact that the GM’s and management of the NHL don’t seem to be the brightest. Look no further then Darryl Sutter and his recent handy work with the Calgary Flames. Prior to the lock-out in 2004-2005 the teams with the deepest pockets were able to buy all of the talented players and essentially buy the championship. As a fan of a relatively small market team, due to the disparity in the Canadian Dollar versus the American Dollar it was a tad annoying losing constantly to Detroit, Colorado and co. and their stacked line ups. So, the agreed upon CBA was a welcome sight and the changes that followed made the “new” NHL a more exciting game. The arrivals of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin didn’t hurt either.
The part that has irked me is that the NHL owners got together and forced the players into a situation where they had to accept the salary cap. But, who were the owners protecting them selves from? At the end of the day it is the owners who are signing the checks and agreeing to pay players ridiculous amounts of money. The salary cap was a tool that has become a necessity to protect the owners from themselves. So, what do the owners do the second the salary cap comes into play? They take off their NHL hats and turn into irresponsible imbeciles. They begin to examine the CBA and find ways that they can circumvent the cap so that they can pay these players
the type of money that they complain about later. If I was a player in the NHL, why wouldn’t I accept a $102 million contract that is going to pay me millions of dollars until I am 44 and no longer playing the game. What person in their right mind is going to say “no” to a lifetime contract that guarantees all of that money?!
The recent news of the NHL, rejecting the Illya Kovalchuck agreement is a real head scratcher because there have been countless other long-term deals of similar ilk. The only difference in this deal then others is that Mr. Lamoreillo was a little too aggressive with the length of the deal and he didn’t leave much salary at the back-end. The owner of the NJ Devils signed the deal and it is his arrogant commissioner, Gary Bettman, “Mr. No National TV Deal”, who rejected it and is now “investigating” several other “lifetime deals” like Roberto Luongo in Vancouver, Marc Savard in Boston, Chris Pronger in Philadelphia, Marian Hossa in Chicago and I’m sure countless others. It just seems like one massive, critical mistake after another which is inevitably going to affect the fan once more when the current CBA expires. I am sure the posturing and propaganda is about to start any day now and the owners will paint the players like selfish, spoiled little children again. How can they let all of these deals go and then all of sudden reject one? News reports making the rounds in recent weeks suggest that the NHL wasn’t fond of the long-term deals, but the fact is they never did anything about it. They registered all of the deals and rubber stamped them, why now are they doing something about it? They created the CBA, ratified it and then shot holes in it like it is target practice. A real commissioner would have seriously considered rejecting the first “lifetime deal” and would have fined the owner in question. It is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out, but I just don’t see how this is going to look good for the NHL. They have nobody to blame but themselves and they make the players and fans the scape goats. Another lockout in 2012 is going to hurt and it may be equally as long as the 2004-2005 fiasco, because the owners and management of the NHL have screwed themselves over again.