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Cap questions

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Here we go again. And I mean that in the best way.

Adam, in this time of league and player partnership, why are players still getting guaranteed contracts and not percentage-based contracts?

If the cap goes up, players get a raise; if the cap stays flat or falls, players have to give some back. This seems like a much simpler system to control player salary, an uncertain cap and leave GMs with the knowledge of exactly how much space they have even if they don't know what the status of the cap is going to be going into the trade deadline and free agency.

Matt B., Greensboro, N.C.


Once its executives stopped laughing at the notion of a true partnership between players and the league, the NHL Players’ Association would argue its members already are tied to percentage-based contracts thanks to the escrow mechanism that holds onto a sizeable slice of player paychecks until the NHL and NHLPA figure out the exact amount of league revenues. And I agree with the players.

Certain people in the industry believe the league is going to attempt to remove guaranteed contracts in the next labor negotiations – a move that almost certainly would result in another work stoppage.

If that happens, I think the owners will be in for a far rougher public-relations ride than they experienced in the canceled 2004-05 season.

The salary cap was held up by Gary Bettman as a panacea for virtually all of the game’s financial issues, but the league’s collective playing field remains almost as uneven as it did before the lockout. And though many fans say they’d “play for free” if they could, I think even the most hardened heart out there would concede that, given the physical sacrifices made by NHLers in their day-to-day on-ice duties, guaranteed contracts are a fair and deserved contractual stipulation.

The days of the league making players pay for owner and GM stupidity should be at an end. Removing the guarantee on player contracts would only encourage and reward said stupidity.

Hey Adam, Whatever happened to Manny Legace? With guys like Nikolai Khabibulin, Dany Sabourin, Dwayne Roloson, Ty Conklin, Alex Auld and even Andrew Raycroft getting jobs, I find it hard to believe no team has been able to find room to sign a Stanley Cup-winning, former all-star like Legace.

Is there something to this story I'm not seeing? Surely Legace would rather be playing NHL hockey than doing nothing, even if it is as a backup.

C.J. A., Los Angeles


There were some questions regarding Legace’s attitude after the Blues demoted him to Peoria of the American League last season, but when I spoke to him in April, he seemed in good spirits and was ready to take on a new challenge with a new organization this year.

The problem for Legace - and many other free agent goalies - is that the goaltending position is the most competitive of any on-ice NHL job. There are only 60 jobs to be had every year – and there is a whole new crop of young goalie prospects coming onto the scene each season.

That’s why you’ve seen players such as Raycroft and Sabourin jumping at what was probably the first opportunity they received. Better to have part of your foot jammed uncomfortably in somebody’s door than to have two healthy tootsies, yet find yourself on the outside looking in.

Adam, Will the Leafs ever win the Cup again?

Glen Cuthbert, Hamilton, Ont.


“Ever” and “again” are such relative words. I mean, if you decided you were going to remove yourself from modern-day society once and for all and make your home deep in a rainforest where you’d never hear news from the outside world until the day you shuffled off this mortal coil, the answer for you obviously would be “no.”

But keeping the faith is what being a fan is all about, right? Kinda makes any answer I could provide a moot one.

Adam, Is there a clause in the collective bargaining agreement limiting NHL teams to a certain length of contract, or restricting the amount a contract can be "front loaded?"

The Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa and possibly even Chris Pronger deals all seem to be examples of teams trying to manipulate the system. What safeguards, if any, are in place to keep teams from shrinking their cap hit with extra years that neither the player nor the team expect to be played?

I'm going to keep asking because this issue has me completely perplexed, so please answer! Thanks so much for doing this mailbag. I read it weekly and really appreciate the insight. Cheers,

Jeff Kennedy, Ottawa


Glad you enjoy the feature. There are no clauses restricting contract term and the “front-loading” of player contracts – at least, not until the next CBA is hammered out.

What’s going on here is what’s always gone on in pro sports: the league sets out rules it believes are airtight and foolproof, then GMs and agents go about searching for loopholes and devising strategies to exploit the loopholes.

After years of that exploitation, the league goes into its next labor negotiations motivated and focused on closing off the loopholes. Even if they are able to achieve that goal, the new rules will undergo the same degree of scrutiny until new loopholes are discovered and exploited with just as much vigor as was seen in the previous era.

Call it the Circle Of NHL Financial Life. And expect it to play out in some similar form as long as you’re a hockey fan.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on Proteau also answers readers' question in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show every other Friday in the summer from 4-5 p.m. EST on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.


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