Not that either side really, really cares what you think – both the players and owners know the fans will be back as soon as a CBA is signed – but if you absolutely had to pick a side to support right now, which one would it be?
(We’d offer a “neither, just tell me when a deal gets done, I’ll be over here watching preseason NFL” option, but that would be too easy.)
OK, so in the players’ defense, they did give up a ton to end the 2004-05 lockout. Specifically, they accepted a hard salary cap with a 24 percent salary rollback. Now, after a season that saw the league brag about record revenues and through-the-roof TV ratings, they’re being asked to make massive concessions again? That doesn’t seem very fair. Besides, all this could easily be solved with revenue sharing.
Of course, in the owners’ defense, the players gave up a ton to end the 2004-05 lockout because salaries were getting completely out of control. In fact, most of the fans supported the league’s side back then. And things aren’t much better for a lot of teams today. Take the Nashville Predators, a small-market franchise with a local ownership group that was forced to give Shea Weber a 14-year, $110 million contract lest its captain and best player leave town not long after its other star defenseman, Ryan Suter, walked away. It’s easy to say revenue sharing would solve everything, but why should owners of teams like the Leafs, Rangers and Flyers – owners that have far more invested than owners of small-market teams – subsidize money-losing franchises, some of which are losing money in part because they’re not doing a very good job running their businesses? Isn’t that, like, communism or something?
Alright, so now it’s time to vote.
We’ll understand if you abstain.
Johnny Hockey: ‘I love Calgary, don’t get me wrong’
Gaudreau — a South Jersey native who grew up cheering for the Flyers, but currently stars for the Calgary Flames — has now been offered a chance to clarify a few things about that interview.
“I think if you ask any player in the NHL if they’d like to play in their hometown at some point they’d all say it would be pretty sweet,” Gaudreau told the Courier-Post in a Q&A. “You’ve got friends, you’ve got family, you’ve got kids you went to school with, you’ve got teachers, you name it. You’ve got people that will be supporting you. The people support me down here, like it’s crazy down here. I’m just really fortunate they follow me up in Calgary.
“I love Calgary, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great city and they’re so passionate about our team. It’s a real hockey city. I really enjoy it up there, don’t get me wrong, but I think if you ask any player if he wants to play in his hometown they’d say it would be pretty cool to do that.
“I’ve still got five more years on my contract and who knows…if we’re playing well up here in Calgary I could end up staying another four or five years there because I love the city so much. It’s tough to have all those articles come out when it’s something so small, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
It’s certainly possible that Gaudreau opts to explore unrestricted free agency when his contract expires. But he doesn’t have that option until 2022.
It’s also possible that Matt Cullen opts for retirement.
True, the Penguins added Matt Hunwick in free agency, and they don’t expect to be without Kris Letang again next spring.
But for goalie Matt Murray, winning it all in 2018 seems a larger challenge.
“Obviously it’s not easy to win at all in this league, especially with the salary cap and the turnover that teams go through. Last year we were lucky that we didn’t lose too many guys and we had a lot of the same guys come back,” Murray told SooToday.com.
“This year it’s a little bit different. We lost some key pieces and we’re going to have a new look going into this season. But I think we’ve added some key pieces as well and I think we’re in really good shape. Of course it’s going to be difficult, but I think if there’s a team that can do it, we can do it.”
For any team that loses important players, the key to success is usually found in the organization’s youth. Enter forwards Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese. If those two can become contributors by the playoffs, it would sure help.
Rutherford will also have to come through by finding a new third-line center. That’s no easy task given the importance of the position. Bonino was a tremendous bargain for the Pens, but he’s in Nashville now.
Some have suggested that the big number of departures will bring the Caps down a notch or two when it comes to regular season dominance. GM Brian MacLellan simply doesn’t see that happening.
“People make it sound like we’re a lottery team,” said MacLellan, per the Washington Post. “I’m shocked by that. We’ve got good players. I want people to know: We’ve got a good team.”
The Caps will have to rely on young veterans and/or rookies to fill the void left by all of those departures. Andrei Burakovsky and Tom Wilson may have to play bigger roles, while rookies like defensemen Lucas Johansen and Christian Djoos may crack the lineup sooner than expected.
“It’s a good team, I think,” MacLellan said. “We have good goaltending. We have skilled players. We’re going to have to see how Djoos plays, how Johansen plays. We might take a little while to get up to speed in that area. I guess there’s a little uncertainty. But I feel good.”
McLellan’s team might take a bit of a dip because the supporting cast took a hit this offseason, but expecting them to fall off the map because of it is a little premature.