Skip to content

Ray Whitney: restrictive CBA would handcuff good GMs

Nov 23, 2012, 5:36 PM EST

Ray Whitney Getty Getty Images

Forget the players, what about the poor general managers? If the owners get their way, the NHL’s new CBA – complete with maximum contract lengths and front-loading restrictions – will only serve to handcuff teams with a creative front office.

At least, that’s what Ray Whitney thinks.

“There are some incredibly smart GMs out there, guys like Ken Holland and Lou Lamoriello,” Whitney told ESPN.com on Friday. “They’re not allowed to say anything but what the league is trying to do now is say, ‘We don’t trust you GMs, we want to put in a system that tells you how to run your teams now. We’re going to cut your legs out. Kenny, I know you’ve got a genius mind when it comes to contracts and maneuvering things, but we’re not going to allow that anymore. We’re going to make it so the worst GM in the league can compete with you because your hands are tied.’”

The truth is, big-market teams love being able to throw their wallets around. Case in point, does anyone think the Flyers would’ve bothered trying to pry Shea Weber out of a place like Detroit? Of course not. The Red Wings would’ve matched a $110 million offer sheet without blinking. But Philadelphia knew the Predators would have to think about it. Deep pockets are a huge competitive advantage in pro sports.

Where Whitney’s argument could be challenged is the assumption that Holland is a genius when it comes to “contracts and maneuvering things.”

First off, we probably shouldn’t throw the word “genius” around when it comes to structuring NHL contracts. Offering money up front isn’t something that’s never been done in the history of business. That the league failed to anticipate back-diving contracts when it crafted the last CBA is, in retrospect, astonishing.

Secondly, let’s consider some of the contracts that Holland has handed out. Are the Red Wings really going to be better off in the long run with Henrik Zetterberg (32 years old), Johan Franzen (32), and Niklas Kronwall (31) signed until 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively? That’s one of those “guess we’ll have to wait and see” things. In that way, it’s sort of like buying a company with a pile of debt. Might work out great. Might be a disaster. The actual taking on debt part is easy though, especially if it’s not your money.

Of course, it’s not the Red Wings the NHL is worried about. If those contracts go south, Detroit will survive. The teams the NHL is worried about are the ones that can’t afford to operate in a market where players demand long-term, front-loaded contracts because teams like the Red Wings give them out.

At any rate, if Holland has been a “genius” at anything, it’s drafting and developing players. And regardless of what’s in the new CBA, that will remain a vital skill for GMs. As will hiring the right coach, selling free agents on the opportunity to win (not just make a lot of money), making trades, and creating the right mix of players.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Perron could be headed to Columbus

    Nov 26, 2014, 12:45 AM EST

    davidperrongetty Getty Images

    Jackets and Oilers talking trade.

  2. Video: Hanzal with an elbow to the head of Erik Johnson

    Nov 26, 2014, 12:05 AM EST

    Martin Hanzal Getty Images

    The Avs’ defenseman left the game and did not return.

  3. Video: Stars’ Garbutt hits Hall knee-on-knee

    Nov 25, 2014, 11:25 PM EST

    St. Louis Blues v Dallas Stars St. Louis Blues v Dallas Stars

    The Oilers’ forward has had his share of knee injuries.

  4. Video: Canucks honor Quinn with “O Danny Boy”

    Nov 25, 2014, 10:29 PM EST

    patquinn

    Spent time in Vancouver as a player and a coach.

  5. Video: Canucks’ Desjardins delivers the news to Horvat

    Nov 25, 2014, 8:00 PM EST

    Bo Horvat, Jason Demers, Pascal Pelletier AP

    The 19-year-old rookie will be sticking in the NHL this season.

  6. Video: Boll with a hit to the head on Postma

    Nov 25, 2014, 7:45 PM EST

    EDMONTON, CANADA - MARCH 14: Jared Boll #40 of the Columbus Blue Jackets watches warm-up before a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Rexall Place on March 14, 2012 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Chris Thorburn dropped the gloves with the Jackets tough guy.

  7. Report: Kings receiving interest in Nolan

    Nov 25, 2014, 7:15 PM EST

    Jordan Nolan AP

    He’s been a healthy scratch in three straight games.

  8. Torres aims to resume skating soon — without his right ACL

    Nov 25, 2014, 5:48 PM EST

    Raffi Torres Getty Images

    Sharks forward has undergone months of rehab on his surgically-repaired knee.

  9. The Kings aren’t just ‘going to go out and blow’ their Voynov cap space

    Nov 25, 2014, 5:04 PM EST

    2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Getty Images

    “Let’s get real. Finding top-four defensemen, they’re not available,” says GM Dean Lombardi.

  10. Trade: Canucks, Isles flip prospects

    Nov 25, 2014, 4:27 PM EST

    New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

    Alex Mallet for Andrey Pedan, specifically.

  11. McDavid thinks dropping the gloves ‘was the right thing to do’

    Nov 25, 2014, 3:31 PM EST

    Erie Otters v Niagara IceDogs Getty Images

    “I would rather fight than turtle or anything like that.”

Featured video

Eakins on his way out of Edmonton?

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Datsyuk (2433)
  2. V. Hedman (2301)
  3. P. Sharp (2280)
  4. S. Crosby (2150)
  5. B. Marchand (1906)
  1. D. Krejci (1876)
  2. Z. Chara (1827)
  3. B. Dubinsky (1695)
  4. S. Varlamov (1477)
  5. A. Tanguay (1440)