With all of the recent news of players signing huge contracts, both in monetary value and length, it’s hard to believe that the owners of the National Hockey League are once again crying for mercy. Look no further than the contracts given to high-profile unrestricted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, each at 13yrs/$98MM from the Minnesota Wild. Matt Carle at 6 yrs/$33MM from Tampa Bay. Dennis Wideman, 5 yrs/$26.25MM from Calgary. Dennis Wideman is a fine player, but to the tune of $5.25 per year?! And finally, the most prime example, Shea Weber. The Philadelphia Flyers signed Weber to an offer sheet that would pay him a total of over $110 million through the 2025 season. That offer sheet was subsequently matched by the Nashville Predators.
Let me say that I have absolutely no issue with the amount of money that players make. What I do have a problem with is the league and its owners complaining about losing money, and that the CBA needs to be re-written…again. As you’ll remember, the 2004-05 season was completely washed out due to lockout. The ensuing CBA was supposed to address these very issues, and make all teams competitive regardless of market size. The implementation of a hard salary cap was supposed to make the Calgary’s, Edmonton’s, and Nashville’s competitive against the Detroit’s, New York’s, and Toronto’s. We can argue all day about the merits of a salary cap system, and we will, but first lets take a step back and ask ourselves…what exactly was the purpose of the lockout? What have we gained?
Take a look at those names again. You’re seeing huge contracts coming out of Minnesota, Tampa, Calgary, and Nashville. Not the Rangers, Chicago, or Detroit. Some of the same teams crying about being in the poorhouse are spending the most money.
Personally, I’ve never bought the line from the owners that small markets are doomed to fail. Take the Edmonton Oilers as an example. The Oilers were one of the loudest to complain about the necessity of a salary cap system during the last lockout. The Oilers charge over $50 (Canadian $) for Standing Room Only tickets. As of the end of the 2012 regular season, the Oilers boast of a sell-out streak of over 300 consecutive games. That’s tickets sold, and not taking into account TV money, concessions, parking, and merchandising revenue. And you’re broke? Give me a break.
The NHL got everything they could have possibly asked for in 2005. The players are still trying to find their pants after that one, and they shouldn’t give in this time. While I’m not fond of the current system, it has largely worked. But, like those who abuse welfare, it’s pretty hard to complain about not being able to afford food when you have a flatscreen hooked up to a nice surround sound system.
The owners of the NHL do need to be saved…from themselves. Isn’t it ridiculous that they can ask for a new CBA while at the same time handing out ridiculous contracts and offer sheets? It shouldn’t be up to the players or fans to save the owners.