Okay, the dogs are going away.
August, the annual most boring time of the year for hockey fans, is gradually coming to a close, and those of us who prefer watching the game to prognosticating are almost ready to start cranking it up. Because I have to tell you folks (if anyone is listening), I might be a blogger, but I ain't no talking head. I want to see some hockey. And I want to see it soon.
It's been an interesting offf-season. Fourth-liners have been swapped. Minor leaguers have been signed. Ilya Kovalchuk has become the most over-talked about player since...um... why the hell were we talking about Ilya Kovalchuk? Oh yeah, because he can score goals and wants to play until he's 46. Good luck buddy.
So what's really been going on this summer? What's the story behind the story? The CBA. The CBA and the salary cap have been the story behind every story this year, from start to finish. The season started with the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Cup, which was followed immediately by the 'Hawks totally demolishing their lineup to get under the cap for the next season.
After that we get a dead-ass free agent period punctuated by a whole bunch of goalies unable to find meaningful work. We get teams walking away from arbitration awards. We get players signing for peanuts and a whole lot of veterans just not getting signed. Why?
Because the general managers in this league have used up too high a proportion of the available cap space signing A+ players to huge contracts. They're now stuck with them, and they can't round out their teams properly. You get a teams with few A players, a few B players, and a whole lot of D players. Why no C players? Why pay a C player a million bucks when you can get a D player on a two-way contract for the league minimum?
How can you tell the league is screwed up? Can you name a team in the league that DOESN't have a player they signed to a too-big contract that they no longer want but can't dump because of a no-trade clause? Seriously, goals and assists used to be meaningful stats. Cap hit and contract length are the only meaningful stats now. A fifty goals scorer? How quaint. What's his cap hit?
It's getting messy. And it's getting confusing. Every transaction is done with an eye on salary, and not that many trades can be made for the purpose of improving your team. Tampa Bay and Philadelphia made two salaray dump trades this summer, with Philly dumping Gagner's five plus million on Tampa, while Tampa dumped Mezaros' quarter billion (all figures approximated) dollar contract on the Flayers. That's what it's all about.
The last time the CBA was up for negotiation, the players were the bad guys: they are so overpaid, blah blah blah... they hold guns to the owners heads, they sit out if they don't get the contracts they want, blah blah blah... How many hold outs have we had since the lockout? This time around, it's all the GMs fault. It's now the GMs versus the owners. The owners pursued cost certainty and the GMs have taken it and screwed up all the teams.
How screwed up is this league? Case in point: no one can sign Ilya Kovalchuk. Why not? Lots of teams could AFFORD to pay him. But no one can afford his CAP HIT. This is stupid.
And Ilya Kovalchuk, I'm talking to you: you are stupid too. You can have a hundred million dollars, or a chance to play on a contender. You can't have both anymore. No one can.
Atlanta offered Kovy about the same amount of dough that the Devils did. The difference is that Kovy knows the Devils will be competitive. Seriously, this all makes my head hurt. Kovy, if you want to win, sign for five million a year. Take it and shut up.
Okay, I don't have a conclusion for this rant, so I'm just going to stop. Good night.