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Columnist: Gap between cap and floor to grow wider

Jan 20, 2012, 4:20 PM EDT

Fehr-Bettman-Getty Getty Images

A little something to chew on during a slow news day – the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek believes the gap between the salary cap and salary floor will be wider once the NHL and the players’ union negotiate a new collective-bargaining agreement. (The current CBA expires in September.)

Here’s Duhatschek’s explanation:

Coming out of the lockout, teams were limited to a $39-million payroll, but were required to spend a minimum of $23-million. Because the business has prospered since then, the ceiling is now $64.3-million and the floor $48.3-million – and the latter is an unsustainable figure for small-market U.S. teams.

…There will probably be a floor in the new CBA as well, but the gap will be wider than $16-million, just so the Nashvilles, Phoenixes and St. Louises can set their budgets and spend to their limits. The gaps between the haves and have-nots will widen financially, although how that actually plays out on the ice remains to be seen.

For fans of cost-conscious clubs like Nashville or Carolina, there are two ways to look at this.

From a pessimistic view, the Leafs, Flyers, Rangers and the rest of the rich franchises will be able to outspend your team to an even greater degree.

On the other hand, if the cap floor is too high and your team is forced to spend money it can’t afford to spend, there’s always the risk your team calls it a day and moves somewhere else.

  1. killerpgh - Jan 20, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    This is bad news. Keeping the maximum and minimum close is great for the sport and over competitiveness of the NHL. If owners can’t afford to do it then they need to add $$$ (bring in another owner) or sell the team. The strength of the league as a whole is better now that every team here to spend close to the same amount of cash for it’s on ice product.
    As a penguins fans it assures me that there won’t be a piss poor product on the ice like 2003 when the teams leading scorer was dick tarnstrom a defenseman who might have play a year or 2 after that season.

    • rupertslander - Jan 22, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      The welfare checks for the small market teams are too big as it is. You have to let the marketplace have some level of freedom.

  2. nhlbruins90 - Jan 20, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Some of the ‘have’ teams spend like drunken sailors, with the result looking like a team put together by a bunch of drunken sailors.

    Some of the ‘have not’ teams spend close to the floor and produce competitive and entertaining teams. Nashville and FLA come to mind recently.

    It may not be easy to win the Cup without spending the big bucks, but spending to the cap doesn’t mean a thing if it ain’t spent wisely.

    Anyway, I’m hoping Nashville has a deep playoff run this year.

  3. elvispocomo - Jan 20, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    I’d hope they’d limit the cap in total and keep it roughly around where it is. A small floor decrease is feasible but I wouldn’t want tot gap to widen so much we’re right back to the Rangers outspending everyone for the superstars (even if it didn’t result in them actually winning games).

    From there, cap increases should be harder to come by and the increasing profits can be used in other ways (better injury prevention research for instance).The incentive for owners to have teams in profitable locations or to make the most of the reasonable location they may be in (rather than ‘trying to expand the game’ like Bettman wants, with teams in non-hockey or non-financially viable markets) would be a larger impact on teams having to make good hockey decisions and not just good business ones in order to produce better on ice product.

    • rupertslander - Jan 22, 2012 at 10:02 PM

      I agree there should be a floor, but perhaps it shouldn’t be a fixed number like the cap is. It makes no sense to force teams already treading water to spend money they don’t have just to meet some arbitrary payroll level – furthemore, most of that money goes second and third line players.

      A better solution would be to have a payroll minimum that takes into consideration each team’s financial capacity. After all, you don’t want small market owners just pocketing their portion of the revenue sharing – but if a team like Columbus is breaking even at $35M after revenue sharing, then there’s no reason to force them to spend more.

  4. rupertslander - Jan 22, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    If the owners and players had had three brain cells between them last time, they would have set the floor to be a PERCENTAGE of the cap, not some arbitrary figure that can’t adjust for INFLATION. If they had three brain cells between them last time, they would have therefore set the floor to be 59% of the cap (which it actually was in 2005), and the floor would now be about $38M, much more affordable for the smaller U.S. markets to sustain than the lunacy you have now.

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