Tuesday, August 21, 2007


One of the effects we are seeing from operating in this “salary cap era” is more middle tier and older veteran players heading for Europe. These players are getting squeezed out by the high prices being paid to top tier talent and to make room for affordable young up and coming talent. We are also seeing more European players heading home due to being less than happy with their roles on NHL teams. This new trend isn’t all that alarming on face value and was even predicted by some as the new CBA was introduced. Everyone knew there would be casualties and it makes sense for these players to be the ones to take the hit. Although the trend isn’t alarming, it shouldn’t be taken lightly by any means. Just looking at the fact that some players that are under contract with NHL teams are “defecting” back to Europe tells you that the pay scale for them looks brighter overseas and perhaps increased ice time as well (not to mention being back home around family). To me, this trend should be kept a close eye on as to how things develop. The reason I say this is because if the European and Russian “super leagues” decide to get their acts together and merge as one league, it has the potential to give the NHL a run for its money. Picture a rivalry that would make the bidding wars between the NHL and WHA of the 1970’s look like a “hissy-fit” at Girl Scout camp. Imagine the NHL without the likes of Ovechkin, Malkin, Lundqvist, Kovalchuk, etc. as its premiere players due to the appeal of playing in Europe. On top of that, picture a steady stream of middle tier players (not just European) heading over due to bigger paychecks, older vets finishing their careers for bigger money, young talent going straight there bypassing the NHL and you can start to see my concern. Some will say that it would do the NHL some good to have some competition as the league sometimes seems stale, but there is always trouble when you let the wolves in the back door. Truly I’m not trying to be an alarmist, I just want to make the point that this is something that could potentially become a reality in the future and something the NHL should be looking into and taking steps to put a plan in place. The problem that the NHL faces is that they could very well be handcuffed by their own salary cap system if this were to become a reality in the near future. Something to think about.

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