Monday, July 08, 2013

Bruins Sign Iginla, Salary Cap Threatens NHL Success

The Bruins finally got Jarome Iginla. They had been pursuing Daniel Alfredsson, but the Red Wings secured the Swede for a 1-year $5.5 million bounty. So just like Jaromir Jagr was the silver medal when Peter Chiarelli failed to get Iginla at the deadline, Iginla is now the silver medal after pursuing Alfredsson.

Iginla will have a base salary of $1.8 million, with up to $4.2 million more incentives. It's a 1-year deal. Similar to Alfredsson, Iginla is a veteran that is looking for a Cup.

The guy has scored 30+ goals for 11 straight seasons. And with the departure of Horton and Seguin, the Bruins desperately need wingers. Wingers who can score.

The Bruins have 6 legitimate top-6 forwards. Krejci and Bergeron are excellent centers, you hang on to Lucic and Marchand, you add Eriksson and Iginla. It isn't a bad top-6 at all.

There's been a lot of movement in the NHL, thanks to the salary cap. Which means that while this off-season has been more interesting, it also means that fans must re-learn their teams rosters once the regular season starts. It also means that successful big market teams like Boston and Chicago can't retain the talent that they've developed. And that's bad for the NHL. The TV ratings were great for the 2013 Finals because two big markets that cared about hockey were involved.

Seguin and Horton were both popular players in Boston. Local stars. People bought their t-shirts, both from the Pro Shop and from street vendors.

Who in Dallas will care about whether Tyler Seguin scores or not? Who in Columbus will care about how physical Nathan Horton is playing?

Location, location, location. Seguin and Horton were stars in Boston. But because of the cap they need to be shipped elsewhere, where teams do poorly and nobody cares about hockey.

The salary cap is intended to prevent big market teams from overspending and pricing out medium/small market teams, making it difficult for the big teams to buy success. But in the NHL there are a handful of micro markets, like Phoenix and Miami, that lower the cap number for everyone, and also absorb talented NHL players that would draw a crowd (and TV ratings) in hockey-interested markets.

The NHL's biggest strength since the '04-'05 lockout has been the success of teams in big markets and in hockey-interested markets. LA, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Toronto, New York. However, the NHL has developed a system that focuses on putting dying franchises on life support, in markets that cannot support them, at the expense of teams that succeed.

It's like having a popular, successful restaurant in downtown Boston, then not allowing them to pay their best cooks and servers, and sending those quality employees to some crappy diner nobody goes to in north Texas or central Ohio.

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