Gary Bettman, Bill Daly

Would the NHL ever consider a luxury tax?

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The idea of a luxury tax has been floated by myriad media members as the NHL lockout has worn on. And while there’s no hard evidence that one’s about to be put on the table, a report that the NHLPA is working on a “radically different” proposal got us wondering if the league would ever consider such a system.

In its most basic form, a luxury tax allows a team to exceed the salary cap by paying a tax on the amount it exceeds said cap by. The tax that’s collected is then distributed to the needy franchises.

The NBA has a luxury tax. Starting next season, teams will have to pay $1.50 for every dollar up to $4.99 million over the threshold, $1.75 for every dollar of the next $5 million, $2.50 per dollar of the next $5 million, and $3.25 per dollar for the next $5 million.

Now, the most obvious consequence of the NHL implementing a luxury tax would be a decrease in parity. No, the big spenders don’t always win. But more often than not they do.

In the NBA, there are numerous teams with practically zero shot at winning a championship. To illustrate, Bodog lists 13 sides with odds of 100/1 or more. For the NHL, Bodog has just one team over 100/1 (Columbus, 150/1).

That’s not to say a luxury tax would turn the NHL into the NBA. One basketball star has considerably more of an impact than one hockey star, since that one basketball star can play almost the entire game (if not the entire game).

There are also benefits for leagues when the big-market teams have a competitive advantage over the small-market ones. For example, which match-up do you think would get better TV ratings – a Rangers-Red Wings final, or Lightning-Predators?

And for big-market teams, a luxury tax that allows them to gain a competitive advantage might be more palatable than simply forcing them to cut a revenue-sharing check and getting nothing for their money.

The risk, of course, is that fan interest drops for teams that can’t afford to pay luxury tax.

There’s also the more considerable risk that owners who can’t afford to pay luxury tax still end up paying luxury tax. As we all know (and the NHL freely admits), some owners have trouble controlling themselves.

For that last reason, if the NHL were to even consider a luxury tax, there would have to be stopgaps that would ensure some semblance of cost certainty.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.