The Ageing Veteran Perspective
Lots of teams get themselves into cap trouble. Many face issues with overpaying for players on July 1st, or trading for players with high price tags who don’t work out. When this happens, there is very little sympathy for the team and the GM - rightfully so. But what about teams that find themselves in cap trouble by drafting and developing high quality players? Take the Chicago Blackhawks. They had a forty-nine year drought before they hit home and won the cup in 2010. They made good draft choices, had excellent coaching, and a system that bred success, giving them two more cups in five years. As a result of doing everything right they are in cap trouble now, too.
As much as the Salary Cap brings parity to the league, it also punishes good work. When you have players like Toews, Kane, Keith, and Seasbrook there is no option but to sign them to type of long-term, high salary contracts that they’ve earned. Without them, the Hawks would not have had three cups in six years; however, with them on the roster, we have see a team that struggled last season and missed the playoffs.
They very well could have a bounce back season and climb back into contention. Personally, I hope they do, but without the ability to bring in and retain new, talented players with a lot of their cap tied up by the current roster, this does not seem likely. And, with teams in their division gaining steam, things look very difficult for the current Hawks.
The salary cap was brought in to bring level the playing field in the league. To bridge the gap between super rich teams and the struggling ones. It has certainly done that, but we now are seeing the other side of it. Teams like Chicago who manage their organization well suffer in the long term. Poor management results in a high draft pick; quality management wins you cap issues and forces a team to trade the assets that they have put time, energy and money into developing.
That is the new NHL, I guess.