How are teams going to deal with drop in salary cap?
Share with others:
Question: I know the salary-cap ceiling is expected to drop significantly for the 2010-11 season, but how are teams that are up against the cap, including the Penguins, supposed to cope with that? It seems that the only real solution would be to lower salaries for everyone in proportion to the cap; otherwise, teams up against the old cap would have to begin a fire sale of some of their big-name talent.
Nate, Burlington, Vt.
MOLINARI: For months, the consensus in hockey circles has been that the cap ceiling will go down quite a bit a year from now, when the full effects the world-wide recession have had on league-wide revenues, which determine the cap range, will be felt. Teams should have taken that into account when negotiating contracts, although some of the deals -- Montreal giving Brian Gionta $5 million for five years, for example -- handed out during the past week suggest that wasn't always the case.
The NHL's collective bargaining agreement does not make any provision for across-the-board decreases in salaries (or salary-cap hits) if the ceiling drops, and compliance with the cap is not optional. NHL teams can't pay a "luxury tax" that allows them to exceed the ceiling and must do whatever is necessary to get down to it.
If that means conducting a fire sale of personnel, that's what must be done. That might seem harsh -- and obviously could pose major problems for teams with a lot of big-ticket talent, like the Penguins -- but having a hard-and-fast spending range is critical to keeping the competitive playing field level, which was put forth as one of the league's key objectives when negotiating the CBA. (Increasing teams' profits was part of that equation, too.)
Question: It looks like hiring Dan Bylsma was a genius move. My question at the time, and still, is, did the Penguins specifically want Bylsma, or would they have promoted whoever was the coach in Wilkes-Barre? I know the organization will never come out and answer that, but what are your thoughts?
MOLINARI: The thinking here when Bylsma was brought in to replace Michel Therrien in mid-February was pretty simple: Bylsma, with about two-third of a season of head-coaching experience in the American Hockey League, was promoted to keep Therrien's chair warm until after the season, when general manager Ray Shero could bring in the coach of his choice, whether it was Brent Peterson or Todd Richards or Claude Noel or whoever, at which point Bylsma would go back to honing his coaching skills in Wilkes-Barre.
That Bylsma could pull the Penguins out of the funk that had marooned them in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and get them into the Stanley Cup playoffs looked improbable, at best, at that point. That they would actually make a run at -- let alone capture -- the Stanley Cup seemed too preposterous to even consider, let alone discuss.
Nailed that one, huh?
It's hard to believe that Shero envisioned celebrating a championship less than four months after promoting Bylsma, but it should be mentioned that the up-tempo, attacking style Bylsma coaches is the kind of game Shero wanted the Penguins to play. Still, if he had envisioned Bylsma having the success he did, Shero presumably would have made him the coach last summer, rather than giving Therrien the contract extension that, barring a settlement, will keep him on the payroll until 2011.
Question: During one of the many shots of the Stanley Cup, I couldn't help but notice that there doesn't seem to be much more empty space on the Cup. What will the NHL do when there's no more room on the Cup to engrave the winning teams' names?
MOLINARI: When all three rings that encircle the "trunk" of the Cup are filled, the oldest is removed, flattened and put on permanent display at the Hockey Hall of Fame. That happened most recently in 2004 and, according to the Hall, won't be an issue again until 2017. (Each band normally includes 13 teams, but one space on the bottom one includes a notation that the 2004-05 season was not played because of a labor dispute.)
First Published July 6, 2009 12:00 am