Fixing the cap structure to benefit the players, the small market teams, and the large market teams. So the NHL wants parity, eh? The small markets want to compete with the big boys? And you’re saying players who love playing in small markets want to get paid too?! And here comes big bad Philadelphia bullying Nashville into giving up their stud defenseman. Boohoo L
Perhaps with the upcoming CBA negotiations, we have an opportunity to please everyone. Big markets want to do what they do best, and spend big to win big. Small markets want mechanisms that allow them to spend less because they earn less, without giving up the opportunity to compete. Players don’t want to sit around envying even the scrubs of the other major sports and their comparatively undeserved massive paychecks. Want to argue? Compare Cliff Lee’s annual payout to Ilya Kovalchuck. Or even better, compare Claude Giroux’s annual payout to Sacremento’s Jason Thompson (who I adore, but has not exactly been considered an instrumental part of the team judging by playing time).
The cap floor and cap ceiling are actually really good ideas. They just miss the mark a bit in what they try to accomplish. Revenue sharing certainly helps level the playing field, but doesn’t quite make up for the disparity in how much some markets are willing to shell out over others. In Philadelphia, you can just have a hobo walk around saying "yay Flyers" and you’ll get a sellout crowd that night (Ok, maybe not that easy, but it’s not far off…it’ll probably be better for it to be a pretty girl). Kudos to the teams who have found their own ways of circumventing the rules to make it work to their advantage. I see nothing wrong with that because they are playing by the rules for their own self-serving interests. Would you really expect Microsoft to voluntarily help Apple if it weren’t for the rules set forth by the SEC? That’s not their responsibility. And for that matter, in what other profession will an employee say "oh, you don’t have the same money as ‘x-competitor’ to pay me for my superior service while they just made me an offer double what you’re paying me? That’s OK. I like less acknowledgement and pay for what I do. I’ll voluntarily take that pay cut." It just doesn’t happen.
I see one simple solution to making the Cap Ceiling and Cap Floor actually work for everyone. Allow for trading of cap space. BOOM! Mind blown. Everyone shares the success. In this concept, I believe everyone will eventually end up at about a cap-average. The way it works is that a team with money to burn but running out of cap-space can literally BUY another team’s cap space. Let’s say New York Rangers are butting up against the cap, but find a stud winger hitting the unrestricted free agent market. They could turn to Nashville, pay them $5 million for use of their cap space, and then pay another $5 million to the free agent. Big market pays $10 million for a $5 million contract, stays under the cap, and small market gets some extra money in their pockets (and padding their operations budget), gets free entry to the cap floor, and makes some real use of cap space from which they wouldn’t have originally benefitted. Also, instead of spending that money to get to the cap floor, now the small market team can make money, and perhaps even reinvest that back into their own players. At the end of the day, you’ll see big market teams paying for small market teams to afford better players, just so the big market teams can spend a little more on their own. Players can still get their fair share of the pie without forcing a team to be unable to put a useful supporting cast around them *coughRickNashcough*.
Just imagine the income levels across the board if every team can put a competent product on the ice. Imagine how it would be if every game the entire season could be a nail-biter! Imagine if a franchise like the New York Islanders could be equally as lucrative a destination as Philadelphia!
As a quick aside, does anyone remember when actual cash could be used as part of trades? I won’t lie, I’d love to see if that could be reinstituted, or even just cap spending could be traded. "I’ll give you this D and this G for that F and 2.5 in cap space." Between a big market and small market team, that might seem like a freebie for both, but between 2 big market teams, that could be a great way of throwing an extra dagger at your competitor.
In this system, you wouldn’t see any more offer sheet problems that are fueled by money like what’s happening with Shea Weber. Nashville could sell off some cap space and come up with the dough to pay his front-loaded contract, and pretty much deflate ANY advantage the Flyers had. Oh yeah, to make it extra sweet, they could sell that cap room to someone like the Penguins, just to throw an extra dagger in the heart.
As of yet, I haven’t heard this idea discussed yet. Let me know what you think of it.