Image via CBC
The NHL lockout of the 2004-2005 season tarnished the image of the NHL and the lasting effects of the concessions made in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) are still felt today. One need look no further than your 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (*swoon* this will never get old). The Chicago Blackhawks have had to say goodbye via one method or another to the following players: Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Adam Burish, John Madden, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager, Nick Boynton, Colin Fraser and finally -- and most notably -- Antti Niemi. That's ten players from the lineup gone, erased, let go from a championship team.
Comparisons were made early and often to the Florida Marlins of 1997. Literally days after their World Series victory, the dismantling began. Their owner, Wayne Huizenga, claimed huge losses despite the team's championship run (gee, sound familiar?) and promptly dumped their stars for young, cheap talent. This particular comparison is completely misplaced due to the fact that Major League Baseball does not have a hard salary cap (teams can go over the salary cap and pay a 'luxury tax') like the NHL does. The Blackhawks were forced into this mass exodus due to the rules the NHL and NHLPA established in the CBA from the summer of 2005.
The salary cap was implemented mainly as a way to give parity to the league, allowing
Bettman's beloved southern market teams smaller market teams an opportunity to be competitive with long-standing franchises that were run with effectively little to no limit on their spending to pay players. But has the salary cap actually served this purpose? One could look at the last ten champions and see two two-time champions (Detroit & New Jersey) and take what they would from it. However, I feel a deeper and broader analysis should be made to make this decision, but how does one base the analysis?
To be honest, I wasn't too sure either. So I just acquired the necessary data and started plugging things together to see if I could see any type of pattern. First, some full disclosure: All salary information was acquired from USA Today and comes with some caveats. Firstly, the dollar amounts are salaries, not cap hits. I felt this was alright because it was the ONLY information I could find regarding team salaries dating back to before the lockout. Secondly, the only salaries included are for players who played at least 30 games or would have played 30 or more games if not for injuries. Again, I felt this was not an issue since the players that wouldn't have played 30 games wouldn't have had significant salaries or cap hits. All other historical team information and statistics (records, strength of schedule, simple rating system) came from HockeyReference.com.
Now all that is out of the way, onto the analysis.