In case you don’t know, I live in Australia. It’s safe to say I’m not “in” the thick of the NHL action. I don’t have sources, I don’t have any friends I can share a jug of beer and talk shit about hockey with. I’m a loner, on the outside of the NHL looking in and sometimes the view is very mirky. So I’m starting a new series of posts to explain what I’m seeing from Australia and maybe try to figure out why things are the way they are. It’s The View From Outside.
I was sitting at my desk at work in the mid-afternoon yesterday when Darren Dreger’s tweet popped up on my phone.
Breaking: Shea Weber agrees to offer sheet with Philadelphia. 14 years, upwards of $100 mil. Preds have 7 days to match. Wow!!
I almost fell out of my chair (lucky it has arm rests – nice). As a Canucks fan it was a harsh hit, but that has been covered perfectly by Wyatt Arndt over at the Legion of Blog, so I won’t go on about it here. But as the details of the offer sheet started leaking it became more clear that the Predators may in fact have trouble matching the Flyers offer, strictly on a cash basis. $26 million in a single calendar year is a huge outlay of cash for 1 player on a team whose entire player payroll is currently sitting at a smidge under $41 million.
The NHL and the Players Association met today in the next round of the CBA renegotiations. NHL’s Bill Daly said the Weber offer sheet was discussed in a “light-hearted” manner. Looking from the outside, that’s a travesty.
If the Predators simply can’t afford to match the Flyers’ offer for Weber it will expose the biggest flaw in the NHL revenue sharing setup – small market teams can not afford to retain star players.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman loves his small market, southerly located teams. He also preaches parity in the league. How can he have a league with parity where his favoured southern teams can’t afford to employ the best players? When the traditional hockey powerhouses and teams lucky enough to be located in hockey crazy regions are the only teams who can afford the best players, how can small market, southern teams hope to be viable?
The Predators already lost Ryan Suter for nothing. If they get nothing but picks in return for having Shea Weber plucked from their nest by the Flyers then their viability as a franchise has to be in question. With Weber gone they will lose fans, lose season ticket holders and ultimately end up losing lots of money (not to mention end up losing lots of games as dozens of shots are directed at Pekka Rinne every night in the absence of their best defensive line).
If the Weber offer sheet was in fact joked about in the CBA negotiations then to me, looking in from the outside, the NHL is in for a world of hurt. While the rich owners are allowed to splash huge money around their GM’s and the individual players will take advantage (why wouldn’t they?) and the not-so-rich owners will have no chance of making their teams truly competitive and therefore financially viable. Gary Bettman’s dream of an NHL that is embraced in the warm states (ie. non-traditional markets) is in serious risk of collapse and they joke about the Shea Weber offer sheet? I simply don’t understand.
Please feel free to comment below. Prove me wrong kids, prove me wrong!