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11-16-2012, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Orrthebest View Post
So then why are the players worried about the UFA going from 30 to 28? Because if the owners got every thing they wanted as you claim the age for UFA would still be at 30. The truth is the owners won the cap, ECL and accepted the players offer of a 24% rollback but lost on every other issue.

Excellent question.

And the old UFA age was 31.

I can find posts of mine from seven years ago where I drone on about the UFA age, and well, no one believed me then.

The owners made a small booboo. They believed that the cap would give them the cost-certainty they wanted making the age of free agency not as important on a league-wide level. In that sense, it really isn't and shouldn't be. The expectation was that a linked hard cap would force teams to spend within the desired range, thus making the pool of money somewhat fixed. And again, at the league-wide level, that turned out to be the case.

However, if you try to box humans into.... well, a box, ...... they like finding ways out of it. Enter the capologists. How do I get to keep some players at close to their market value but still 'cheat' the system a little bit? It's not like the league didn't anticipate some of this would happen. They put in some variance controls via the 100% Rule. They got rid of bonuses except for rookies (with their special boxes now as well), 35+ players (and that was boxed in), plus players coming off LTIR on short contracts. Of course, the GMs and their capologists figured out that if you average a contract and you get to use a larger number of years in the denominator.... you get a smaller cap hit. (Duh, right?)

Bettman also wanted to have everything count last time too (Reddens in the AHL), but probably didn't get the backing of the teams on that one. Instead, iirc, they came up with having the recalling team hit for half of the salary if a player is picked off the waiver recall wire.

The teams cheated their own system, not because they wanted to cheat it, but they quickly discovered that when you combine a rapidly rising cap with much lower UFA age, a lot of teams will have to spend more money and that money was quickly shifting to coveted RFA's soon to be off their second contract. They started prepaying for UFA years to entice the players to sign long enough to bridge past their UFA status, or if they were going into their final season as an RFA, they started 'locking them up' longterm. The cap was still rising, so now that money was backfilling into the mid-level guys as well.

If you had had a hard cap (no linkage), this would not have happened.

You could see that the smaller teams were going to have problems. The cap was growing faster than their revenues, but more importantly, that shortened time-frame for hitting it big with their homegrown guys was too short for them to build something sustainable.

The NHL now wants the best of both worlds. In the old pre-cap days, it shouldn't have mattered as much that overage UFAs got the biggest bucks (except to the premier forwards who had to wait years to cash in). What led to that spiral wasn't the lack of a cap, but offer sheets. Offer sheets came about due to two things: a lack of sufficient talent to give everyone stars, and teams who had young stars lowballing them to an extreme. Had they show a little more willingness to ratchet up the compensation for elite guys (heck, do it with bonuses, you know?), the pressure would never have been there to work offer sheets into the system.

You'll note that in spite of making it very difficult to use offer sheets in this most recent go-around, the one that did happen exposed that even a very severe compensation structure wouldn't begin to compensate a team like Nashville for a player of Weber's stature.

I think of Shea Weber as the poster child for this lockout and the NHL's financial and market problems. He's the one player that can be used to illustrate what the two sides are fighting over.

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