Friday, January 23, 2004

Firesale Hockey

And so it begins, the great salary dump of 2004. Washington apparently set to lead the way by unloading Jaromir Jagr and his hefty paycheque, for Anson Carter who found himself in Glen Sather's doghouse rather quickly. This marks the second time that Jaromir has been moved in order to cut costs, having helped Pittsburgh's bottom line not too long ago. Not sure of the logic of this deal, the Caps will still be on the hook for a hunk of his salary for the next four years, some 20 million, in effect paying him to go away, we should all be so lucky!

Washington may not be done yet, they may next deal Peter Bondra possibly to Ottawa. Cutting and pruning will continue until the Capitals can run purely on popcan return revenues. I Wonder if the long suffering Capital's fan will be so lucky and be given a rebate on their season tickets, since the Caps seem to have abandoned all hope for this season.

This is just the tip of the salary dumping iceberg, Carolina too is about to pare the payroll and rumours continue that the Chi Hawks will also take a knife to their paycheque recipients, though to be fair that won't amount to much there. Now that it's open season, how many other teams will decide to chuck this year and try and save some money?

This trend is just another indication of the trouble Hockey has found itself in over the last few years. Between struggling franchises in the Sunbelt, disinterested fan bases in many cities, underperforming talent, and an ugly labour dispute looming, things are just not so rosy beyond the Zamboni machines.

This firesale concept could turn the playoff race upside down, teams that built their line-ups from the draft, by developing players on the farm clubs and taking the slow and steady approach may find their best efforts go unrewarded. Instead the victors this season, may be those with the money to chase a flood of highly talented players that become available to the highest bidder.

Finishing first overall, building momentum for the season it could all be a waste of time. Instead the smart GM will be the one with the fistfull of cash ready to scoop up the available talent from the teams looking to cut their losses and cut their costs. Play like bums for half a season and then load up on stars for the homestretch, it could be a whole new management style coming our way.

No comments: