Tuesday, March 09, 2010
As much as I like to dump on the NHL, there has been something decidedly positive growing in the American Midwest: The Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago is the 3rd largest market in the country. It's a cold weather city, with 2.8 million citizens, and 9.8 million in its metro area. But colder than the weather has been the city's affection for its hockey team.
The Blackhawks, historically, suck. They've existed for over 83 years, and have only 3 titles, and their latest came before the Vietnam War. From 1998 to 2008, they made the playoffs just once.
But last year they made a serious run in the postseason, going all the way to the Conference Finals against Detroit. And this year, they have a stranglehold on the Central Division (haven't won a Division Title since '93), and are vying with San Jose for the #1 seed in the West.
They're averaging 21,174 in home attendance. That's 2nd behind the Canadiens.
So maybe instead of incessantly trying to develop the game of hockey in Florida, Arizona, Africa, and Nashville; maybe the NHL should try to bolster the big market Northern cities. They did a good job last year, awarding the Winter Classic to Wrigley Field. But more could be done.
I think the best way to reward big market teams that develop successful talent is to allow them to keep it. Sorry, Buffalo, but big market teams make the big market bucks. So they should be helped in keeping the big market talent.
We shouldn't let teams in New York, Chicago, Philly, Toronto, and Boston go out and BUY new talent like the Yankees. But if they develop their own guys, or even sign cheap talent, why not give the club some sort of cap exemptions to keep them?
To use the Bruins as an example, developed talent like Krejci, Lucic, Boychuk, Rask, these guys count as much against the cap as free agents like Chara, Sturm, or Seidenberg. And how about Tim Thomas, who the Bruins acquired cheaply, but now counts as $5 million against the cap. Why not reward teams for finding cheap, quality talent, by giving them a rebate on their cap numbers?
Chicago is a good team. I'd hate to see this burgeoning hope for the NHL in the Windy City blown away by lack cap space, just so the Islanders can afford to make their payroll.