The lockout of 2004-05 was supposed to bring about earth-shattering change to the NHL. Salary Cap (check), new rules to limit obstruction (check), more money in the pockets of big market owners (ch… hmm), more affordable ticket prices for average, working class hockey fans (ch…again, hmm), and a redistribution of top talent from the rich teams to the poorer teams (check).
While I will not dispute that in some ways the game is better today than it was after the 2003-04 season, the effects of the NHL’s salary cap world is very disturbing to this life-long fan.
How can it possibly be a good thing for the NHL and hockey fans when even before the Pittsburgh Penguins played their first minute of action in the Stanley Cup final against Detroit, media outlets from one ocean to the other were already lamenting this team’s inevitable downfall thanks to the salary cap?
How can it be good for hockey when a potential powerhouse team in Pittsburgh is set to be torn apart by free agency before it even has a chance to get started?
Why is Gary Bettman so against the NHL reproducing another Edmonton Oiler or New York Islander-esque dynasty?
Why, so the sad-sack Atlanta Thrashers or Nashville Predators can have their fair shot at a top talent like Ryan Malone, Brooks Orpik, Marian Hossa (again in Atlanta’s case), Jarkko Ruutu, etc.
Cost certainty may have been a great idea for fat-cat, rich owners who continue to pocket millions more, but it is having a detrimental affect on our game. We now have a league full mediocrity, with no powerhouse teams, save Detroit and Pittsburgh (for the moment), to either love or love hate.
Fans, like myself, want to see a team full of stars compete on the ice night in and night out and if it means letting a team spend $100 million in salary so-be-it, because in the end it is much more enticing than watching a .500 team with one star who left a potential Cup champion in order to collect his $7-8 million payday.
David Zuba, Egg Harbor City, N.J.