The NHL has released the details of next year’s salary cap.
NEW YORK/TORONTO (June 26, 2008) – The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association announced today that the Team Payroll Range established for the 2008-09 League Year, pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, provides for a Lower Limit of $40.7 million, an Adjusted Midpoint of $48.7 million and an Upper Limit of $56.7 million.
The National Hockey League canceled an entire season to get a salary cap for the supposed purpose of reining in player salaries, and after three seasons, the floor is higher than the original ceiling.
It’s kind of funny that the teams that were really crying poor and calling for a salary cap before the lockout, are now required to spend more than the original $39-million cap they insisted on.
When the cap was installed, the feeling also seemed to be that the player that spends his whole career with one team would be rare, and the salaries would be held in check despite the GMs of the League.
But there have been quite a few players signing extremely long deals. Vinny Lecavalier is apparently about to sign a nine-year deal for an average of $8.5 million a year. Alex Ovechkin signed a thirteen-year deal. Rick DiPietro is currently in the throes of his fifteen-year deal.
All of these contracts seem like crazy amounts of money, too. But in the 6th year of Ovie’s contract, for example, it’s going to seem like a HUGE bargain. Unless he has a career-ending injury, of course. Or turns into a whiner and starts to slack because the team never wins.
I don’t have a problem in general with the giant, long contract. It can really go either way. It’s just a much bigger swing than a short, manageable contract. When things work out it’s extra-gratifying. When things don’t work out, it’s extra extra bad.
While the cap keeps going up and the top salaries are basically back where they were before the lockout, what the cap really did was reduce the middle class. The total is set, so when these elite players get the $9 million deals, that leaves less for everybody else. The bottom ranks swell, and the middle ranks shrink. The million-or-less player is part of a much bigger group now. The $4- to $5-million player is rarer than it was.
Still, even the league minimum is a good salary. Personally, I was against the cap, and I still am in principle, but I don’t think the players are suffering as much as I thought they might. (And of course, I use the term “suffering” relative to pre-lockout salaries. Not, you know, actual suffering.)