No Salary Cap! Er…Wait…

With the current CBA running out on September 15th, 2004, the NHLPA is taking a stand against the cost certainty (that’s legalese for “salary cap”).

So…the players won’t play under a salary cap, right? Well, not exactly…
…With the new CBA, the NHL owners are desperate to get some form of financial stability in the league. Whatever the cause of the problems, anyone with a brain can see that the salary situation in the league is the problem. Was it the greedy players who caused salaries to skyrocket, or was it the stupid owners who kept outbidding each other and offering less-than-star-players multi-million dollar contracts each season? For the sake of this discussion, it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that the owners are trying to get a cap in place to guarantee that teams like the New York Rangers, Detroit Redwings and Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t able to sign anyone they want because they have more money, while teams like the Edmonton Oilers continue to turn out young talent for the rest of the league to eat up as soon as they become UFA’s (or worse, as we saw with Comrie).

The Players Association, acting on good faith for its players doesn’t want to see a cap in place.

However, if there is a brave stand against the cap next year, and the NHL is not is session, players will be playing under salary caps. Uh…what?

The WHA announced its draft exemptions for their first draft this summer.

Dallas – Brett Hull (unrestricted Free Agent)

Detroit – Chris Chelios (unrestricted Free Agent)

Florida – Martin St. Louis (restricted Free Agent)

Halifax – Glen Murray (unrestricted Free Agent)

Hamilton – Paul Kariya (unrestricted Free Agent)

Québec – Mike Ribeiro (restricted Free Agent)

Toronto – Chris Phillips (restricted Free Agent)

All are obviously members of the NHLPA, but appear to be scheduled for a date with the WHA and its salary cap – a cap at least twice as low as what the NHL owners are suggesting. Obviously this is all based on if there is a lockout, if the players want to play in the WHA, if the WHA even starts and other issues, but the idea is clear. Free Agents from the AHL and NHL will play under salary caps in Europe and North America next season if they’re not in the NHL…because they don’t want a salary cap.

I may not be a Rhodes Scholar, but that doesn’t seem kosher to me.

sources: nhlpa.com, worldhockeyassociation.net

on a personal note, I’m happy to be writing articles for HTR again after an absence of a year or so.