Watching Gary Betteman being interviewed on HNIC last night reminded me of watching a snake digest its prey. It was awkward and felt fairly uncomfortable… and I got nothing out of it that I didn’t already know.
I do admire Ron Mclean’s passion though.
Bettman dodged the typical Jim Balsillie/Phoenix Coyotes questions and fudged over Canada’s impact on the NHL and overall revenue. That’s all well and good, but I think there’s a bigger issue that needs to be addressed and its all related to salary caps, team winning (which ultimately fills stadiums) and appeases fan bases.
The NHL needs to address internal development of star players and adjust the salary cap accordingly.
Am I suggesting the NHL raise it’s salary cap? No.
I am suggesting is the NHL take into account stars that were developed internally and adjust their team cap hit as a result. Anyone familiar with my views on the salary cap knows I think it punishes teams like the Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks for drafting and developing well. Ultimately, you draft a team so strong that you cannot afford to keep every player a few years later. And you likely got those high draft picks from having horrible seasons.
The Ottawa Senators draft and develop Daniel Alfredsson into the star he is today. As his skill and impact heightens, his value rises too – OK, that’s the obvious part. But in 2003, Alfredsson, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, Zdeno Chara and more all did this. The result: the Senators couldn’t keep everyone.
It’s backwards, right? The Senators were terrible for so many years and made the most of high draft picks to build the best team possible – and they did a great job. Fast forward a few years later: these draft picks are now superstars (or close to) and just as they reach their peak, they sign elsewhere for big-time contract. I suspect the same thing will happen to both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals.
So here’s what I’m suggesting – perhaps an example might work better (numbers can be adjusted based on revenue; these are examples only):
- NHL cap hit stays around $50-$52 Million per season
- NHL creates development cap space of $4-$6 Million per season
- Teams cannot spend more than the total cap each year
The development cap would allow portions of in-house developed contracts to fall into this separate cap (In house players could be defined as a player who’s spent more than X years in their system and/or drafted by a team). Overall, a team cannot spend more than $56-$58 Million – a number that should jive with all 30 clubs. Because the time and effort was spent developing star players, the player’s salaries don’t hurt the club or paralyze them for drafting properly.
This way, the Chicago Blackhawks can keep Patrick Kane, Jon Toews, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Cam Barker and some of their great role players, too. Fans want this, coaches would love this, owners probably want this and even Gary Bettman would like this, too.
Stay classy, Gary Bettman