TSN's Dave Hodge sounds off on all the hockey issues of the day in Hodgemail. In this edition, Dave's question to you was: "Is the salary cap good or bad for the NHL?" He's picked his favourite answers and given his own Reply to All. Read on for more.
The National Hockey League rose from the ashes of the lockout five years ago with a new-look game, new stars to promote and most importantly - the level playing field they wanted for all 30 teams. But how effective the cap has been is certainly up for debate.
The Chicago Blackhawks spent years building the roster that hoisted the Stanley Cup in June and were forced to drop 11 regulars in the offseason because of cap issues - not exactly a typical follow-up for a defending champion.
And most recently, the New Jersey Devils, already up against this season's $59.4 million salary cap (thanks in part to Ilya Kovalchuk's 15-year, $100 million contract) and dealing with early-season injuries, dressed just 15 skaters in Monday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the hasty addition of forward Adam Mair this week, the team then dressed 16 skaters against Buffalo on Wednesday night. Had the Devils gone with more bodies in the lineup, they would have been dealing with added cap issues just a week into the season.
But this may be a trend developing in the cap era - teams going with less players on their rosters than the 23 allowed by the collective bargaining agreement. The Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings have also done this in recent years. While some teams have serious cap issues to deal with, others could be putting their pennies in the jar for a possible stretch run.
Whatever the reason, is this what the NHL and NHL Players' Association had in mind when the cap was brought in five years ago?
The owners wanted it, the players didn't, but nobody ever asked the fans. Now that salary cap issues are dominating the news, it's time to find out how the fans feel.
Dave's question for you was: "Is the salary cap good or bad for the NHL?"
Here are the answers Dave liked best:
"The salary cap is one of the best things the NHL has done. Teams with cap problems should blame themselves, not the cap." - Brandon, Edmonton
"I grew up with the Islanders and the Oilers and part of the excitement was wondering if those great teams could be beaten. I'm sick of the word 'parity.'" - Kevin, Toronto
"I have tickets to two Devils games this season and I plan to take my gear to both. I figure I have a good shot — my cap hit is low." - Bryan, Sackville, NB
"I'd rather see a few teams suffer than see a few teams buy championships, as in baseball. And if the NFL can make the cap work, the NHL should be fine." - Dave, Port Coquitlam, BC
"I like the salary cap, but I might not like it in a few years, when the Oilers have to try to re-sign all their young talent." - Dino, Edmonton
And here's Dave's Reply to All: No Space Left in NHL for Cap
The argument for the salary cap is that it provides "cost certainty". So does a budget, if it's followed. The argument for the salary cap is that all teams have a shot at the Stanley Cup. In any system, there will always be teams that don't.
It is said that, without a salara cap, those teams that don't will be the poor teams trying to catch the rich teams that will win all the Stanley Cups. Like the Leafs and the Rangers, you say? The salary cap hasn't helped hockey, it has only made capologists necessary, and they cost money. it has only made trades tougher to make. It has made hockey extremely difficult to follow, because when all you want is scores, all you get is cap space and circumvention rulings.
It has made players switch teams when the teams didn't want that any more than those players did. It has sent multi-millionaires to the minors.
Donald Fehr ought to try to get rid of the salary cap. How hard he should try is another discussion.