In the wake of the recent arbitration decision, talk of the town around the NHL is still the league's posturing on whether they'll use their newfound silly contract banhammer to help the Flyers, Canucks, Bruins, or Blackhawks to get out from under contracts they probably shouldn't have signed in the first place. One of the overlooked pieces of Richard Bloch's decision (full text here) is that Bloch opened the door for the NHL to challenge contracts on the basis of their affect on competitive balance in the league (page 17 of the decision). Naturally "competitive balance" is something of a nebulous term. An everyman might assume this means that the Spirit of the CBA is to give all 30 teams as equal a shot at winning the Stanley Cup as possible. I, of course laugh heartily in the face of an everyman who thinks that a bunch of business guys really think that Edmonton should have the same shot at the cup as Los Angeles. Hey, if half the league is competitive and half the league isn't, that's a kind of competitive balance, right?
With that in mind, I've come up with a four contracts that the league should challenge before going after Savard's, Luongo's, Pronger's, and Hossa's deals. Follow me through the jump for more:
1. Glen Sather - GM New York Rangers (Terms unknown): Sather's been running one of the league's biggest and best geographically positioned teams since the turn of the century. As a result, the Rangers have sucked since the turn of the century. I don't want to get into too many cause-and-effect diagrams to try to show a connection here, so instead, I'll just point you to the contract that Sather gave Derek Boogaard this offseason. If you're not familiar with Boogaard, don't worry, that's just because you're a scoreboard watcher and he hasn't appeared on one since 2006. The Boogie Man, as I assume plenty of people call him, has a cap hit of $1.625M for the next four seasons. If his career averages hold up, Sather will be paying Boogaard over $580,000 for every point or just under $15,000 for every penalty minute.
2. NBC - National broadcast partner for the NHL (Terms: half of what's left over in ad revenues after NBC is done paying Eddie Olczyk for his brilliant analysis): I know, if the premise is that the league wants the big teams to succeed, why would they have a problem with NBC broadcasting their games, since they only broadcast the big teams the league wants to sell? My answer is the more literal competitive balance. You see, the teams that are shown are competitive and NBC forces Pierre McGuire into their personal space to slobber in their ear. As my traveling doctor, Mr. Bonzo can attest, the inner ear is where balance comes from. I've seen how McGuire interviews players and have no doubt that his tongue is lodged deep enough in there to disrupt inner ear function. Bit of a stretch for that one, you say? Yeah, well so's Mike Milbury's hairpiece.
3. Colin Campbell - NHL Deputy Commissioner ($1.39M for 2009): Wherever there's an NHL superstar making a bad decision or dangerous play that hurts a fellow player, you can guarantee Colin Campbell will be there with a built-in excuse as to why what he did was not a suspendable offense. There are two reasons Down Goes Brown's Top Secret NHL Suspensions Flowchart has been so popular since it came out. 1) it's really funny and 2) it's sadly accurate. While it may seem to fit that his decisions actually help the league's definition of competitive balance in letting superstars from big teams do whatever they want, it hurts the league in terms that it's so blatant and ridiculous that it makes it hard to take the league seriously.
4. Gary Bettman - NHL Commissioner ($7.23M for 2009): You could buy almost fourteen and a half million small rubber bouncy balls to release over the ice during game seven of the Stanley Cup finals and it would do less damage to the league for the same price as this guy.