Cap will keep Chicago from maintaining all its talent
The Blackhawks and their remarkable season-opening 24-game point streak — which crash landed in Colorado on Friday — have crossed over into the mainstream, underscoring yet again the value to the NHL of marquee teams, and so much the better if they’re big-market clubs, as well. Yet, the caps achieved though the lockout and imposed on the league by the Board of Governors — what are we left with now, a quintuple cap? — not only mitigate against the Blackhawks remaining intact for very long but reduce the ability of organizations to maneuver within the collective bargaining agreement to construct powerhouse clubs. Chicago’s roster contains a pair of critical players in Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa operating on front-loaded contracts prohibited under the current CBA. Without the ability to front-load, manageable cap hits for each — $5.3 million for Hossa; $5.5M for Keith — would have been impossible. Hence, Chicago either would have been unable to afford either of those two players or another player or two of their opposing array of stars and support players. The impact of the eight-year limit on contracts has been felt already, with impending unrestricted free agent Ryan Getzlaf re-upping in Anaheim for the maximum term at a cap hit of $8.825M per. That’s indicative of where the league is headed — higher cap hits for marquee players, thus fewer marquee players per team. It’s a spread-the-wealth mentality that may be attractive in the boardroom but is ugly on the ice. The NHL for decades has adopted a lowest-common-denominator approach — even in pre-cap days by refusing to enforce anti-obstruction rules on the ice, thereby negating the advantage of its most talented players and teams — rather a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats philosophy, even as the Blackhawks have done just that. Chicago is going to face a painful decision over the summer regarding Hossa, the 34-year-old winger whose contract runs through the 2020-21 season. The cap-recapture formula would inflict penalties of a minimum of $4.6M per season and a maximum of $9.2M per if he were to retire before the expiration of his contract at age 42.
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