Monday, July 02, 2007


Advantage: INTARWEB

Some recognition is in order. It would seem that the hot meme right now, amongst those who watch and write about hockey for a living, is Back to Square One: roughly, "Rangers and Avalanche are outspending everyone again, what happened to the new NHL paradise, remind me why we lost a season to a lockout?"

I will forego all analysis and predictions on the state of the NHL today simply to note that if you've been reading Tom Benjamin's NHL Weblog at, you are surprised by nothing that's happening. For 2+ years, Tom has been saying two principal things (well, more than that, but two that are on point here):
  1. The cap was set artificially low in the first place, relative to the percentages suggested in the text of the agreement
  2. This CBA would soon enough be to the advantage of the big-market teams, as (A) they'd be able to afford to spend to the cap, and (B) the lower UFA age would mean they could spend that money on players in their prime, rather than those who were over-the-hill or just about there.
I mean, it is to laugh to read (unfairly picking one guy) Jim Kelley's piece at today.
Wasn't this the deal that would put all teams on a competitive footing regarding payroll costs and therefore strike a competitive balance throughout two lands?

I'm sorry, did we miss something or did all that go out the same way of the promise of reduced ticket prices?

Cripes, maybe he's just giving his audience what he thinks they want, but grow up! It still baffles and irritates me just how suggestible and credulous some pro hockey pundits are. If you honestly thought that ticket prices would be pushed and held down by the new CBA, you might as well wear a T-shirt that says I Have No Capacity For Critical Thinking.

House MD is one of my favourite shows. Yes, both the medical storylines and the fact that anyone will still cooperate with him are beyond implausible, but one of the central themes of the program is a pretty valuable lesson.

Dr. House's schtick is that he never actually meets his patients in person, at least not in the first two segments. It's a deliberate strategy: he finds listening to them useless at best and misleading at worst, because Everybody Lies. Everybody is not evil -- that's not the idea -- but everybody lies, for different reasons. They're ashamed about X, they're fooling themselves about Y, they had never even considered Z. He diagnoses based on observed symptoms (observations performed by his lackeys) and test results.

Most of us who analyze hockey -- and especially those of us who actually have access to, or relationships with, NHL front offices -- need to be a lot more like House. We should be looking at what the evidence tells us, and then worrying about the self-serving comments from the people stuck in the middle of it.

The CBA is long, but it's not War & Peace. Why would anyone who does this for a living pay attention to what Gary Bettman says it means rather than just reading the fucking thing? Print hockey media types are college-educated: why did so few (any) of them crack out a calculator in 2005 and figure out what 55.5% of ~$2.4 billion is, then see what the cap would roughly be two years down the road (i.e. now)? It's embarrassing.

Instant Postscript: naturally, Benjamin just posted this exact same piece looking at the exact same article. ("What hath Bettman wrought? Exactly what he wanted.") Too bad, this is too long to toss out. Anyway, big props to Tom for using his brain instead of his ears.


Well, better late than never, I guess. I'm hopeful that the McGwire Effect will come into play: the media figures out they were part of the problem, and then begin to devour everyone in sight.

Great post, Matt.

I want one of those t-shirts.

Looking for a replacement for the "Your Favourite Band Sucks", are you?

Flames got Owen Nolan.

Tom's 'analysis' has consisted of Bettman-bashing since the lockout. But even a broken watch is correct now and then. The thing that galls though, is Bettman has delivered the system that Benjamin bemoaned was exiting. TB couldn't stand the paeans for parity and 'everybody's got a chance', Tom wants a return to the dynasties of the past where smart GMs get the spoils. This is the system thats just rounding the corner now and the reason TB isn't embracing it is a) he's argued against Bettman so long he hasn't noticed he's come around in a circle and is now biting his tail and b) he just likes complaining.

Flames got Owen Nolan.

Sounds like a low risk gamble to me. Up to $2 million, including incentives. I wonder how the cap hit works on a contract like that.

Up to $2 million, including incentives. I wonder how the cap hit works on a contract like that.

I think, though I'm one of those dolts who hasn't read the BA, that bonuses can be carried over a year, so the cap hit isn't as hard. Matt, is that correct?

Ah... while I have read (most of) it, I have not memorized it.

Best I can tell (Sec. 50.2.b), they have to keep cap room as if all the incentives will be achieved, and no they cannot be deferred even in part.

However, I do believe that if (when) the point in the season comes where it is certain that a particular incentive clause will not be met, then the cap space can become available right then, it's not gone forever.

Also FYI, with the exception of entry level contracts, only one-year deals can include performance bonuses, and even then only certain players are eligible: 35+ year olds, and other veterans (400+ games) coming off a serious injury.

Dynamite insight re: House. Makes me want to pop a Vicodin and hobble around the room for a bit before assessing the remaining UFA market.


It still baffles and irritates me just how suggestible and credulous some pro hockey pundits are.

I think some of them would call this a load of rich, creamery butter.

It still baffles and irritates me just how suggestible and credulous some pro hockey pundits are.

Ha! You should spend more time reading the financial news, even in good newspapers. This is real money on the line for a lot of people, and the coverage is shite. Stuff like "hollowing out of head offices" and "Teachers won BCE," when "won" should be in scare quotes.

By that standard, hockey news (it's just a game, after all) is really quite stellar.

Oilers just signed Garon. I guess Jussi's out.

Very interesting developments:

Oilers Statement regarding Michael Nylander

The Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club is compelled to clarify the unfortunate and unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Edmonton Oilers and Michael Nylander.

On Sunday, July 1, 2007, Kevin Lowe, Oilers General Manager, and Mr. Mike Gillis, Certified Agent for Michael Nylander, negotiated and agreed to a multi-year NHL Standard Players Contract, starting in 2007/08. Mr. Gillis confirmed same to the Oilers in writing.

The Oilers then proceeded with preparations to announce Mr. Nylander’s contract agreement on July 2, and concurrently continued with the process of negotiating with other free agents based upon Mr. Nylander being an important roster ingredient for the future.

However, while the Oilers were expecting the returned, signed agreements from Mr. Nylander and Mr. Gillis, the Oilers discovered through public announcements made mid-afternoon on July 2, that Mr. Nylander had subsequently entered into a long-term contract with the Capitals.

The Oilers can find no precedent for such conduct in our history. The Oilers are examining and pursuing every course of action available in the best interest of the team and our fans.

For legal reasons, the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club will not be discussing the details any further at this time.

Well I guess the Oil could try to sue, but then what FA is even going to talk to Lowe.

Well I guess the Oil could try to sue, but then what FA is even going to talk to Lowe.

Isn't that the problem now?

Ahh remember first dates; the smiles, the akward laughter, the stop and start rhythm of the conservation. And then the part comes where you discuss your previous relationships, You boldly go first and explain that while your ex was nice, you feel you've grown, deserve a little more, you're now a more established person, more serious, more dependable. Then she explains that her last relationship kind've ended badly because HE was such a bastard and lied and cheated and just used her to make another girl jealous, but by god, she was going to fix his wagon and sue the pants off of him, and while she was at it she was going to tear a strip of his lawyer too, maybe even try to get him into some kind of trouble. Nobody ever again was going to take advantage of her. She finally stops to take a sip of wine and you notice that the gleam in her eye which you had mistaken for a mischevous joie de vivre is in reality the glint of a truly unhinged, raving madness. Your eyes quickly search out the waiter, the excuse to leave already forming on your lips..

Excellent as usual, Matt. You once again show why you're one of the best hockey writers on the intarweb.

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