Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hockey Is Dead, and the Salary Cap Is to Blame

While the NHL has tried mightily to resurrect hockey after missing the 2004-2005 season, it just hasn't worked. They've tried tricked up rules to make the game more entertaining, but the negatives have just been too great. Losing ESPN as the flagship network has been a significant blow, but the make up of the teams is a much larger issue.

I have taken considerable flack over the last 10+ years for my being a fan of the Colorado Avalanche. I started watching hockey in 1996 during the playoffs when they won their first championship. I've followed them ever since, and they won again in 2001. However, part of the Armageddon of 2004-05 was a hard salary cap that made it impossible to keep highly paid teams together. While this might seem great to the Edmontons of the world, it absolutely killed my dear Avs. Here's a look at where some of the players are who were on one or both of those championship teams:

Stephan Yelle - Calgary Flames
Alex Tanguay - Calgary Flames
Jon Klemm - Dallas Stars
Rob Blake - L.A. Kings
Peter Forseberg - Nashville Predators
Mike Ricci - Phoenix Coyotes
Greg de Vries - Atlanta Thrashers
Chris Drury - Buffalo Sabres
Adam Foote - Columbus Blue Jackets
Stephen Reinprecht - Phoenix Coyotes
Dan Hinote - Saint Louis Blues

It's hard to overcome this when you also include the following retirements:

Patrick Roy - Goalie
Ray Bourque - Defenseman
Adam Deadmarsh - Right Wing
Scott Young - Right Wing
Eric Messier - Left Wing
Shjon Podein - Left Wing
Mike Keane - Left Wing

That's just too much for a team to absorb and stay at a highly competitive level. While the Avs fought valiantly in 2005-2006 and still made the playoffs, they missed the post season this year. When the salary cap killed my team, it essentially killed hockey for me in general. While I have a passing interest if Forseberg gets another championship in Nashville, I won't be glued to the TV trying to watch every game.

That's why I think salary caps are a bad thing in general. Think about how many Super Bowls the Cowboys could have won if they had been able to keep their team together. You may wonder if I still watch football based on my thoughts on hockey. The answer is yes, I do. I think the difference is that I've watched football about 20 years longer than I have hockey. I guess some things just wind up being more entrenched.

Are you still watching hockey? Did you ever?

Until next time...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Philip and I have been friends since before we both started watching football. So even though we disagree about hockey teams, I'm a Stars fan,. (*though I have to admit watching the Avs win it all in 1996 was one of my first Stanley Cup finals and I wasn't a Stars fan at the time) he's dead RIGHT on the demise of hockey. If you watched the Stars this year, they still play the boring defensive style of hockey. Sure the league wanted to trick up hockey but where's the scoring??

It's weird every year in hockey, at the trade deadline you see veteran good players traded from a nonplayoff team to a playoff team only to become a free agent after the playoffs. RENT A PLAYER. It's really sad.

So, just like people dont' stay at the same job for 40 years, professional players do not stay with one team their whole career because of the salary cap.

Hopefully, ESPN will take back hockey, hockey will quite playing tilt a whirl with their players, and the league will quite playing with the rules trying to make hockey better.

Until then, Mavs basketball anyone?