Defending The ''New NHL''

Some fans are worried about the NHL and the sport of hockey because small market teams that apparently “nobody cares about” as some might say, are having success this season. TV ratings for playoff games haven’t been very good because teams in larger markets aren’t involved. They say if a big market city isn’t playing hardly anyone is watching, and hardly anyone cares. These fans argue that if a big market team isn’t successful we won’t see hockey on TV because no one is going to watch. In a way this argument has its merit, but why is this view wrong?

The NHL set out their goal this season to make hockey more exciting, and more competative, and certainly the teams in the Conference Finals prove it worked. Nobody saw either Carolina, Buffalo, or Anaheim even making the playoffs and at least one of them is going to the Stanley Cup Finals. All 30 teams if they are properly managed have a fair chance at winning the Cup, it’s no longer the same damn 12 teams in the playoffs with very little turnover and Detriot and Colorado in the Conference Finals. Yeah, that rivalry is exciting and I always liked watching the games, but that’s why the big market teams were always in the 3rd round. Smaller market teams like Buffalo couldn’t spend 50 million dollars on players to compete with the likes of a Philadelphia, New York Rangers, Detroit, or even New Jersey. A result from that, all playoff revenues are almost pure profit, the players’ contracts are already paid. Just a few playoff bonuses to pay out, but teams make a killing on selling out every game. Teams that weren’t in the playoffs for several years don’t get that money, and large cities that were in the playoffs always got it.

The interesting part is the Sabres in particular aren’t winning just because of the salary cap limiting the talent a team can carry because skilled guys demand lots of money. The Sabres’ team budget sits around 30 million dollars for this season, over the ownership’s hoped 28 million dollar ceiling due to call ups, and still 7 million under the league cap. Although that cap plays a part in leveling the playing field for small market teams, the Sabres are winning because of the new pro-offensive rules. Cracking down on obstruction, eliminating the 2 line pass, and allowing skilled players to do what they can do are the reasons why the Sabres are winning. For years before the lockout the Sabres were drafting and developing young, smaller, faster, skilled players instead of big, slow, hard hitting guys. The bigger guys outmuscled skilled players and won teams Cups in the old NHL. In the era of the new CBA skilled players are the new wave of the NHL, and teams like the Sabres were ahead of the curve. Say what you want about TV ratings, but Buffalo, Edmonton, Anaheim, or Carolina winning the Cup this year proves there is now parity in the NHL.

Fans wanted a high scoring, exciting game and the Canes, Ducks, Oilers, and Sabres all bring that. Hockey fans regardless of who is playing will watch the Stanley Cup Finals. If you don’t you’re not a hockey fan, I don’t care what you say about it. An exciting game should be enough to get people watching. Sure I’m from Buffalo, so I’m biased, but I was tired of seeing the same damn teams win every year.

15 Responses to Defending The ''New NHL''

  1. JannettyTheRocker says:

    I totally agree with you SabresFan220!!! If we were still under the old CBA and with the old set of rules, neither my Oilers or your Sabres would have made it this far (well, very unlikely anyways). Letting teams skate without obstruction, restricting where goaltenders can play the puck, and various other small changes have opened the game up and allowed small market teams to compete………I kinda feel bad for fans of teams like the Flyers, Avs, Wings, Leafs, etc., because they have gotten use to having winning teams for the last decade due to their abundance of funds. It must be hard having to find other ways to win………….But, as mad as I was at Gary Bettman for suspending hockey for a year. The changes he has made help us small market fans immensely.

    PS>> I can’t wait for the Sharks/Oiler’s game tommorrow night. GO OILERS GO!!!!


  2. Gretzkin says:

    That’s the way I see it too.

    OILERS?SABRES Stanley Cup Finals!!!

    Go SabresFan220!!!


    The Lockout was a good thing.


  3. almelo95 says:

    Losing last season definitely sucked, no matter what way you look at it. But the product on the ice is immensely better and the playing field has largely been leveled. I hate to say it, but losing an entire season was, in the long run, a good thing. It forced the NHL to make changes that were long overdue.

    It’s a more exciting game now. Think of the late goals we’ve seen to tie or take leads late in the third period in the playoffs so far. It’s happened a number of times this season. It rarely ever happened in the last 5-10 years. Those are the games and goals that you remember for years.

  4. almelo95 says:

    I remember you saying that you came here to Buffalo for a game in the Philly series. How’d you enjoy it?

    I’m traveling to Raleigh for game 5 against the Hurricanes. I can’t WAIT! I’ve never traveled to see an NHL game before.

  5. Jrugges says:

    Hmm, yeah small market teams are making money now, and thats good for that oraganization. As the NHL as a whole though, sorry to say, you want your big market teams to make it every year. Without Toronto, Detroit, Philly, New York, and Colorado making the playoffs every year. Not many people are going to watch, they dont much care about other teams. Honestly I’m a detroit fan, and I do not even care one bit who wins the cup this year(besides the sharks). I might be saying that outta spite, but I believe others feel the same. Now I’m just one in a few million redwing fans. How many other redwings fans do you think are still watching hockey, my guess is very little, and if you got a hockey town like Detroit, Montreal, and Toronto not in the playoffs, there are alot of t.v. ratings down, lots of money lost to the nhl, and maybe no more t.v. games. NHL is a business, now the rules of the business is the rich get richer, What happens when the rules change on the rich?

  6. the_hockey_bandit says:

    Before the Wings were out I would watch every game I could, but as soon as they were eliminated I found something else to do, no longer being tied to the couch. I wanted to know how the teams were playing and what each was going through each game. There was always a chance they would end up playing the Wings in the finals or a later round (that and I love to watch hockey). That view all changed when they were eliminated. It is not as important to keep track of a future opponent when there will be no more this year.

    I still check scores and am following what is happening and watching some games, but it is not the same when your team is done. Some of the desire and intrigue is gone.

    Unfortunately the big market teams do draw more fans from accross the US and Canada (hence the big market label). You can’t say that what is happening right now is necessarily bad for the NHL, but the amount of money that would be put into the pool for the league to set the cap would be alot larger if those ‘BIG’ market teams were still going. It is the nature of the business. Same rules apply for other sports.

    This is the way it is and always will be.

  7. AfroCon says:

    The fact that small markets are winning is a great thing.

    I mean, people in Buffallo and Anaheim are taking notice and are jumping on the wagon, no one can convince me that’s not a good thing… And no, I ain’t a fan of either… My team’s been playing golf since game 6 of round 1…

    Parity is a great thing for everyone including the fans.

  8. AfroCon says:

    From what you guys are saying, smaller markets would never become bigger markets…

    Montreal is a big market not because it’s a huge city, it’s a big market because people here love hockey.

    If smaller market teams start to win, they may also become big markets which, long term, is a good thing for the whole league.

    Imagine a league where there’s no need for revenue sharing anymore?

    You’ll say I’m crazy but try looking further than one or two years ahead… I’m talking a decade or two here…

  9. LeafsLeafsLeafs says:

    What is there to defend? This what you call beating a dead horse. The new game is far more entertaining all they have to do is remove the restrictions on the goalie playing the puck and that dreadful instigator penalty bs, then you’ll have a game that is filled with excitement and the emotion its supposed to have. Barn burner 80’s hockey!!

  10. nonhl2005 says:

    I must be in a minority on this site but not in the real world, I personally think the ‘new’ playoffs suck compared to the past ( ratings support this ). Note: Don’t blame the ratings on the network they are doing a good job and show more hockey then any other channel ever did, I even saw Youngblood was on the other night in place of a series that had ended already “To the game and getting out of this hick town! Thank God there is a sport for middle-sized white boys.”.

    This is the part that worried me during the season and my fears have come true. There was NOTHING wrong with the playoffs before this season, nothing, no one complained about the style of play during the playoffs it was always because of the regular season when there was a lot less on the line that the trap was such a black eye, in the playoffs the trap was a last 2 minute ordeal you had to endure and was a mad scramble. BTW I still see the trap being played from time to time in these playoffs.

    I agree the regular season was more exciting this year then years past but the playoffs are a different game and that did not need to change. I for one HATE it even though I really want to see the ‘Canes win it finally, I’ll be partying on the OBX with Lord Stanley this summer if this happens. Betman’s head got too big from the positive feedback from the regular season so he went ahead and screwed up something that didn’t need changing, there was NOTHING wrong with the playoffs of the past.

    While I am happy for the Sabres and the other team that will lose to the ‘Canes it has less to do with small market teams and more to do with the fact that the teams that were built for the playoffs had the rug pulled out from under them by the commissioner, unfairly IMO.

    As for the claim that it’s the same teams all the time that win the NHL has been just as diversified as the other major sports the last 10 years

    NBA 4 different teams have won – 6 over 20 years

    NHL 5 different teams have won – 10 over 20 years

    MLB 6 different teams have won – 13 over 20 years

    NFL 7 different teams have won – 11 over 20 years

    Hopefully next year we will see more Toronto vs. Ottawa and Colorado vs. Detroit series, give us back our game you pansy a$$ nimrod.

  11. habsoverserver says:

    Has it really changed from the prior seaosns when two large market big spenders like Tampa and Calgary made the finals?

    The Sabres are not winning b/c of the salary cap but other teams lost b/c of the cap. Don’t tell me that replacing Forsberg and Blake with Brisebois and Turgeon didn’t hurt the Avs. Don’t tell me that losing Niedermayer didn’t hurt the Devils or that St. Louis wanted to give up Pronger. If there was no cap, Toronto would have singed better players than Lindros and Allison. Weight and Recchi went to Caronlina in part because other teams could not afford them under the cap. Buffalo isn’t winning in a vacuum.

    Montreal tried to go the small and speedy route and they got crushed like a bug by the Canes.

    You can’t judge a system on two rounds of one playoff year and don’t forget that the Olympics hurt some teams this season.

  12. Radio says:

    The long term repercussions of the new agreement will be that 10-15 years from now, no team will really be better than another, and there won’t be any underdog in a series, since it will be widely accepted that anyone can win. Favorite teams become chosen by how cool the logo is, and “cause I’ve alwatys cheered for *insert team*” rather than liking teh style of play or success of the team.

    This year is only a small representation of what’s to come.

    Cap = no chance for dynasty. Thus, expect a different cup winner every year.

    Cap = devalues draft picks, in that since you can only build your team up so far before you have to trade away for cap space, you know that half of your number one picks over 6 years or so will end up off your team, even if they pan out.

    In the long, long term, too many people will have the max contract, so much so that no team can afford the cap space to sign some big names, and some very talented players will start there season on the Free Agent list.

    At this point, the NHL invokes an immediate 25% cut in all wages as to fix this dilemma, and get the most talented players back in the game. However, the players, having already lost 1/3rd of their salary a decade ago, now get angry and go on strike, locking out the NHL for a full two seasons.

    Once the NHL gets back underway, with another bullshit compromise agreement, no one cares any longer, fan base is crippled, revenue dies and owners go bankrupt trying to pay off their players with near empty arenas, low ticket prices and no television network deal.

    Just 1/4 through the season the NHL dies away, and hockey at a professional level is gone.

    A few years later some entrepreneur begins a new league, or buys out the rights to he NHL brand for dirt cheap, and restarts the game with no BS business crippling and market ignorant socialism.

    At this point, we’re all watching soccer and names like Arsenal and Man U, have become common Canadian lingo.

    Sigh…25 years of crap just to get back to where we were three years ago. Oh well, hopefully this will serve as a lesson to those who couldn’t be bothered to read a basic economics textbook. (Points at Gary Bettman)

  13. Radio says:

    btw, it’s wrong, because you are condemning the most productive to pay for the less or unproductive and also get no benefit out it for themselves. Recipe for self-immolation.

    I think the NHL will find at the end off its road of redistributed wealth, that there will be no more wealth left to redistibute.

  14. adambuffalo says:

    I would say that the Sabres are winning because of the cap. This is because they have been playing with a cap for years now. They have refused to pay players huge contracts if they did not feel they deserved it. Satan, Zhitnick for example…how’d they do over on the Isle this year anyway? Peca is another example. I’ll admit, after watching him in the playoffs this year, i’d love to have him on our team now, but at the time he was traded, he did not deserve the money he was asking for. Hasek…sure he did go and win the cup in Detroit, but the Sabres did not feel they would go back to the finals with him again, so let him go.

    Darcy Regier has experienced a lot of slack over the years, but he has proven this year that he may truly be one of the best GM’s out there. We’ll just have to see what he does this off season with McKee. This may be one of his toughest decisions he’s had to made in a long time.

  15. habsoverserver says:

    Darcy Reiger has done a great job of keeping the team competitive on a tight budget.

    I agree with you that the cap did not affect how the Sabres chose their roster. I think the cap did hurt many of their competitors which is indirectly helped Buffalo.

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