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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Salary Cap to Ruin Wings

But the players are finding better ways to bring in more revenue

Detroit News:

Wings face big changes as NHL finally nears deal

Salary cap would force Detroit to end lavish ways; revamped rules aim to spice up lagging sport.

Hockey's deep freeze is about to thaw.

All indications are a new labor agreement could be days away, and the NHL will return this fall.

But will Hockeytown fans warm up to the new product?

The game will undergo modifications, but the Detroit Red Wings could face wholesale changes.

The captain, Steve Yzerman, could retire. Defensemen Chris Chelios and Derian Hatcher and goalie Curtis Joseph could be sacrificed to meet the new salary cap.

One position is certain, though. Brendan Shanahan has emerged as a power broker in the league.

Even while negotiations lagged, players and management were in agreement on one item: The game needs to be juiced.

Enter Shanahan. During the lockout, he convened summit meetings in Toronto and Romulus to discuss the sport. People took note.

When play resumes, several measures will be instituted to encourage more offense. "I'm intrigued," said Margy Bishop of Dearborn Heights, a longtime Wings fan. "Particularly the shootout (after OT to eliminate ties). That really could be interesting.

"They (the league) have to do something. It's been a long time, a whole year. Life has gone on without them, and everyone survived just fine."

Proposals to eliminate the red line, streamline goalie equipment and regulate obstruction penalties are meant to generate offensive flow and increase scoring.

"The important thing is to create scoring chances," said Wings player representative -- and goaltender -- Manny Legace. "A 2-1 game can still be an exciting game with a lot of good scoring chances. A lot of things they're talking about (rule changes) will open up the game.

"I can see why they went after goalie equipment because it was getting out of control. But at the same time, you don't want to see anyone getting hurt. (And) what happens if scoring still doesn't increase next year? Then what are they going to do? Make the nets larger and have us become like soccer goalies and dive around all over the place?"

Any future tweaks to the rulebook will be in the hands of a new nine-member rules committee, of which Shanahan is a member.

It was widely accepted that obstruction -- hooking, holding, interference -- had gotten out of hand, and players weren't allowed to showcase their skills.

"They're trying to keep the pace of the game going," Wings coach Dave Lewis said. "Generating speed through the neutral zone, creating offensive chances. The key is to eliminate obstruction."

One change, the shootout, is sure to irritate old-school fans.

"I'm a traditionalist, but I can see how fans enjoy it," said Lewis of a series of penalty-shot breakaways during a shootout period. "My concern is, you're making more of an individual process rather than a team process."

Off the ice, there will be little to no obstruction as players move from team to team this summer. Nearly 200 players are expected to be free agents.

"It will be the busiest time ever for us (agents), players and GMs," agent Pat Brisson told the Associated Press. "It seems it will be a completely new system and we'll have to learn it quick. ... It will be pretty wild."

A projected salary cap of $36 million to $40 million will have a huge impact on heavy-spending teams such as the Wings.

Detroit, which spent approximately $78 million on player salaries for the 2003-04 season, has approximately $32 million committed to 12 players for the 2005-06 season.

Yzerman, 40, an unrestricted free agent, is still to announce whether he'll return.

Chelios, 43, and Joseph, 38, are unrestricted free agents who would have to take huge pay cuts for the Wings to re-sign them.

Hatcher, who has three years and $20 million left on his contract, could be a candidate for a buyout.

And with young players such as forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who are restricted free agents and seemingly worthy of raises, navigating the salary cap will be difficult for general manager Ken Holland.

Of more long-ranging financial concern for the league is the lack of a national television contract.

ESPN, the primary U.S. rights holder before the lockout, did not renew its contract.

ESPN said it's looking for an arrangement similar to the one the NHL has with NBC, which will televise seven regular-season weekend games. The network pays no broadcasting fee but splits whatever profits there are after the season.

The NHL said it has no interest in such an arrangement with ESPN.

No other television network has, at this point, shown interest in the NHL.

Without a broadcasting deal, the league's revenues would be limited to ticket sales and souvenirs. Also, interest in the sport won't grow if nontraditional hockey markets aren't exposed to the game.

That's not a concern in Hockeytown, though.

"Of course I'm going to watch the guys play," said Brian Perkins of Livonia. "I plan on watching as many games as I can on television. I just missed it, the whole season."


Blogger JJ said...

Should there be a Salary Cap in English Football?
Personally I think there should be! It’s just getting to be stupid money in football at the top of the premiership!
It’s always the same teams at the top proving that football success is based purely on money which ruins the idea of it being a sport! They’ve done it in rugby, basketball, hockey and American football and it makes the sports more competitive and better to watch!
I do a little Spread Betting from time to time and most matches don’t hold much surprise who is going to win, its boring! I want to see a team at the bottom pulling off an amazing season beating last seasons winners in a close fought battle!
Make things fair! It shouldn’t be about money!
All there is all that money in the premiership and barely any of it stays in the UK so it’s not even helping the economy!
From my Spread Betting, if I ever win big (which is never, I’m unlucky) it’s still nothing compared to the average premiership players weekly wage!
This Rant was brought to you by Spread Betting Spike. 

4/15/2008 04:35:00 PM  

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