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Why Having So Many Free Agents Is A Good Thing


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http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_d...?urn=nhl,154967

Salary cap causes historic amateur moment for Philadelphia

By Greg Wyshynski

This is David Sloane, a 24-year-old defenseman who played for Colgate University this season before being signed to an amateur tryout contract last month with the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms, with whom he's yet to see any action.

You may notice he's not wearing either of those jerseys in this photo snapped last night. That's because Sloane, in one of the most unlikely stories of the season, became an NHL defenseman last night for the Philadelphia Flyers against the New York Rangers.

In the process, Sloane became the first Philadelphia-born player to ever lace up the skates for the Flyers.

This sports fable was made possible by harsh economic reality in the NHL: The Flyers simply didn't have any room under the $56.7 million salary cap to make an ideal move after defenseman Ryan Parent strained his groin and missed last night's game. So Sloane was signed to "an amateur tryout under emergency conditions," because his salary cap hit is zero, as Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sloane was paid a per diem sum of about $100 for appearing in a critical late-season game at Madison Square Garden, where he played in front of his parents. Danny Briere, the Flyers' highest-paid player, was scheduled to make $10 million this season.

How did the rookie fare in the Flyers' 2-1 loss to the Rangers? Sloane was paired with defenseman Andrew Alberts, had 12 shifts and played 6 minutes, 44 seconds. He didn't see any time on special teams.

Not to say this wasn't a special time for Sloane, who called the opportunity a dream come true. From the Courier Times:

Sloane grew up with hockey from an early age, competing for the Little Flyers junior team. He later played for Choate Prep in Connecticut. He went undrafted by the NHL. "One minute I'm in Albany (with the Phantoms), the next I'm in a rental car coming down to New York,'' Sloane said. "It was a total surprise to me.''

Now we just have to get this dude in a shootout against Capitals Web site editor-turned-emergency goalie Brett Leonhardt, this season's other surreal story.

Under the salary cap, some teams are having to take drastic measures late in the season. The Flyers suit up an amateur defenseman; the Calgary Flames, meanwhile, have been playing games with 17 or fewer skaters due to a lack of cap space for minor league reinforcements. On the one hand, it's a disturbing trend; on the other, it guarantees 15-minute-famous guys like David Sloane won't have to buy their own drinks for a while in their hometowns.

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http://www.tsn.ca/blogs/darren_dreger/?id=274312

DREGER: SALARY CAP FORCES FLAMES TO PLAY A MAN SHORT

DARREN DREGER

The Calgary Flames have played the last three games with 17 or fewer skaters and will play the remaining two well under the limit in what is believed to be a post-lockout first.

Neither the NHL nor the NHLPA keeps track of game by game roster numbers, but no-one at the league or NHLPA knows of a late-season cap crunch hitting a team to the degree it has the Flames

The collective bargaining agreement states teams cannot place players on Long Term Injury with nine or fewer games remaining in the regular season which means there is no cap relief for the Flames who have had to play shorthanded because they don't have the cap space to call up AHL reinforcements.

Had that relief been available in the wake of injuries to defensemen Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich, Calgary would have gambled on re-entry waivers and recalled veteran Anders Eriksson. Instead, the Flames will have to wait to place Eriksson on re-entry until the end of the regular season with no guarantee he clears.

The architects of the CBA call Calgary's predicament mismanagement and say Flames gm Darryl Sutter acted aggressively at the trade deadline by adding Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold without allowing for cap flexibility.

Sutter contends this isn't a cap issue; it's an injury issue with his list of players sidelined also including, Rene Bourque, Wayne Primeau, Andre Roy and Mark Giordano, forcing the Flames to play a total of 5 games under the roster limit. A fact some suggest impacts on the integrity of games played by the shorthanded Flames.

Calgary is expected to encourage discussion on changing this rule at future league meetings and are expected to get support from other cap teams as currently twenty teams are within 2 million dollars of the 56.7-million maximum.

However, at least one non-cap teams suggests the NHL do the opposite by enforcing the restrictions of the cap system throughout the playoffs.

(me: from my reading of the CBA, the cap system should apply throughout the playoffs, but it's just one of those things that seems to contradict the CBA)

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signing guys now, with the cap decrease looming, is like getting to re-negotiate with half the team...

p.s. do you think Calgary is still so happy about picking up Jokinen who has a grand total of 4 assists and is -6 in the 11 games since his 5-point night against the Leafs?

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Personally, I think they need to change the rules either so injured players (not just LTIR) either come off the cap or let a replacement player come up without a cap hit.

People can say "well they're irresponsible with their cap room", but how is a team ahead of time supposed to know injuries? A GM should be able to manage his cap space ahead of time.

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Personally it is things such as this that has me believe the NHLPA will do everything it can to avoid a cap similar to what exists now, especially if it were to fall to something such as $47 million. While players could accept lower salaries, which would be ideal. That does seem too simply a solution to be accpeted unfortunately. One can only hope this does not boil into another disaster that was the lock out but this economy crisis certainly would not make it an impossibility.

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People can say "well they're irresponsible with their cap room", but how is a team ahead of time supposed to know injuries? A GM should be able to manage his cap space ahead of time.

The same way ordinary people manage a budget: by leaving a cushion so that you can respond to emergencies. You don't max out your credit card, then complain to them when your roof springs a leak and you have to spend money unexpectedly to fix it. Live within your means.

I have no problem with the current cap system, because it works to punish teams who just spend like drunken sailors in the free-agent season. They wanted Briere; well, they got him. And they also got a big fat cap hit that is now causing them problems. They made their bed; now they should lie in it.

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Personally, I think they need to change the rules either so injured players (not just LTIR) either come off the cap or let a replacement player come up without a cap hit.

People can say "well they're irresponsible with their cap room", but how is a team ahead of time supposed to know injuries? A GM should be able to manage his cap space ahead of time.

Not a bad suggestion possibly, but at what point would it begin being abused? Anyone can be listed as "day-to-day" -- what would eventually stop a team from using this to save cap room at crucial times?

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The same way ordinary people manage a budget: by leaving a cushion so that you can respond to emergencies. You don't max out your credit card, then complain to them when your roof springs a leak and you have to spend money unexpectedly to fix it. Live within your means.

I have no problem with the current cap system, because it works to punish teams who just spend like drunken sailors in the free-agent season. They wanted Briere; well, they got him. And they also got a big fat cap hit that is now causing them problems. They made their bed; now they should lie in it.

except for ordinary people with a budget you can save your money, whereas cap space is lost at the end of the season. But I just feel that you should be able to spend to the cap if you want and not have to hope you stay healthy.

There would still be punishment for teams at the cap: can't trade, year to year could have problems, etc. I don't like the "you might have injuries" as punishment.

Not a bad suggestion possibly, but at what point would it begin being abused? Anyone can be listed as "day-to-day" -- what would eventually stop a team from using this to save cap room at crucial times?

Good point, they could just put any healthy scratch as "day to day" to save the cap space. Hmm there must be some way to prevent this.

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If players were loyal, not money-chasing hogs who can play hockey, then maybe there wouldn't be this problem. I think its rediculous players play for more than 3 teams in a career, except for the unlucky few who get traded. That's why I don't like people like Hossa.

Really, I think the league should do something to keep players with the same team. I don't know how, but still. "Encourage loyalty"

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If players were loyal, not money-chasing hogs who can play hockey, then maybe there wouldn't be this problem. I think its rediculous players play for more than 3 teams in a career, except for the unlucky few who get traded. That's why I don't like people like Hossa.

Why pick on Hossa? Prior to his signing with the Wings, he'd been traded by others, and had never been a mercenary in terms of jumping from team to team. The day after he signed a contract in Ottawa, Muckler turned around and flipped him for Heatley. Then Waddell traded him to Pittsburgh last season. He had no control over either move. And all indications point to him signing a long-term deal with Detroit this summer.

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Why pick on Hossa? Prior to his signing with the Wings, he'd been traded by others, and had never been a mercenary in terms of jumping from team to team. The day after he signed a contract in Ottawa, Muckler turned around and flipped him for Heatley. Then Waddell traded him to Pittsburgh last season. He had no control over either move. And all indications point to him signing a long-term deal with Detroit this summer.

Not to mention the fact that he took considerably less money to sign with a contender than just taking the highest bid.

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