Al Strachan of FoxSports.com has published a blistering criteria of the NHL's current financial status today, declaring that the NHL is still destroying itself from the inside out. This comes in the wake of a disappointingly bloated 2008 free agent market in which a number of high and mid-level players seemed to get far more in their new contracts than market value would have justified.
Even so, Strachan seems to be missing a few crucial points in his breakdown of the NHL and its state of financial health. You can read his article here...
I can't say that I can agree with Strachan's assessment. The old CBA and the way it was structured was FAR more disastrous for the league than the one that is currently in place.
And besides, if Strachan's measure of success for the current CBA is whether or not it allows every team in the league to be profitable, than yes...it is not working.
We all know that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would love to be able to get hockey ingrained into every community in which an NHL franchise resides, but even fans know that it is not realistically possible. "Small market" teams will continue to struggle badly, especially when they are managed in a piss-poor fashion.
But a couple so-called small market teams have made some serious steps forward in being able to compete and make playoff noise in some cases. Tampa, Carolina, and Anaheim won the 3 previous Stanley Cups before a rich team took it all this season. Buffalo, Nashville, and Atlanta have made postseason appearances recently. Chicago, Phoenix, and Columbus are expected to make some trouble next season. There is far more potential for small market teams to push for a Stanley Cup than there was just 4-5 years ago, and it's all due to the salary cap.
Note that nothing is mentioned at all about the fact that there is the 54% lock on player salaries league-wide in relation to overall NHL revenue. That is the single biggest reason for smaller teams being able to compete now.
In any sports league, no matter what the status of league/athlete relations, there will always be the haves and the have-nots. That will never change.
That being said, I still think for the overall health of the league, a couple of the southern teams need to go. It's ridiculous that Winnipeg ever lost a team to Phoenix or that Hartford lost their team to Carolina. Eventually, someone is going to have to come to their senses and realize that the way to build the NHL as uniformly as possible is to establish itself in strong hockey markets and than support grassroots hockey development through minor league teams and leagues in areas where they would like to eventually expand to. Examine the successes, and then plan accordingly.
Why do i understand this and not the NHL's brass? Or even Al Strachan for that matter?