Losing the Cap

23 Nov


So if the NHLPA goes down the route of Decertification there seems to be one common thing people agree upon, the Salary Cap would be illegal. I’ll let the legal team tell me why later but generally speaking people dont like it when a group of people get together and all agree to pay their employees the same thing. But what would happen if the NHL didnt have a Salary Cap?

I see 1 of 2 things happening as the most likely outcomes to Salaries going unchecked. (Nobody has a Crystal ball here and if I did the Lotto numbers would be called upon before the answer to this problem)

1) The NHL would drastically change its revenue sharing model to help keep teams afloat.

The NHL was absolutely broken before the Salary Cap. Teams like Edmonton were in dire straights. The Cost of running a team was greater than the revenue they could take in. Prices were going up just so clubs could afford to keep their players from becoming New York Rangers or Detroit Red Wings.

Some Teams will make money hand over fist no matter what the NHL has or hasnt done to keep salaries proportional to revenue. The Leafs, Canadiens, Flyers, and only a couple of others make up the real money earners of the NHL. There is no Billion Dollar TV deal to disperse cash amongst the rest of the group. This is it. After about 10ish spots teams are just breaking even and then the drop off gets pretty ugly. The Coyotes are rumoured to lose upwards of 40 million some years.

The NHL would need to share revenue at an unprecedented level, at least by NHL standards, to keep teams afloat, let alone competitive. This wouldnt stop the earners from buying their Stanley Cup rings, but it might keep teams like Nashville in the NHL. Maybe.

Who knows how long that arrangement could last if 2/3 of the league is dependent on shared revenue just to be viable.

2) Contraction

If teams are forced to compete with each other the escalation of salaries is only inevitable. It’s an entertainment business. If your most entertaining performers leave your employment 100% of the time then you arent going to have too many patrons. No talent, no asses in the seats.

Teams will be sold and relocated a few times but it’s only a matter of time before they go bankrupt or fold. The NHL suspended business 1 year already just to get a salary Cap. It did that because the previous system was crippling so many franchises. Going right back into those pre-Cap days would likely be the condition several owners need to pull the plug.

I dont personally have a problem with Contraction, now that the team I cheer for has a Billionaire owner (I will just ignore the fact that he has essentially threatened to move the team). There are too many teams in the NHL as it is. The talent is already spread out thinner than I would like to see it. Normally I would be excited about a contraction draft but I dont know if that would be legal with the NHLPA decertified. So lets assume that all of the players on contracted teams become UFAs.

Let’s chop a few teams off the list of NHL Clubs.

Tampa Bay

Those teams are now gone the way of the Minnesota North Stars. When the conditions are right again, they might come back. Maybe. But until then the talent is going to be looking for work. Not everybody can get those jobs though. I mean we’re talking about a limited number of jobs here. Those 6 teams being dissolved would kill 300 professional contracts and about 150 NHL spots. The best prospects and best players are going to be offered contracts from around the world. The cream of the crop will get paid. The rest will need to go overseas to make their money.

Actually, the KHL and other European leagues would probably be overjoyed to see the NHLPA decertify. The longer this mess drags out the longer they get to hold on to NHL calibre players. I’m sure most NHLers overseas are enjoying their experience but probably dont want to make Europe their home. At least the North Americans, I should say.

The result for teams strong enough to actually support the inevitable rise in player salaries is that they will have an infinitely better talent pool shared among them. 6 teams gone that’s 36 “Top 6” forwards and 12 “Top Pairing” defensemen going to 24 clubs. There should essentially be at least 1 more Star or at bare minimum 1 more Blue Chip prospect for every team. Likely more!

Sure, 150 players would be out of work, but that’s their problem. Maybe if they had a Union that could have been avoided.


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