The lockout is over and we're all looking forward to getting to a game, but does the new CBA really help the Blues get the best product on the ice?
We're all happy as clams that the NHL's lockout is over and that a season will be starting here shortly. I, for one, cannot wait for opening night, especially so the Blues can try to defend that Central Division championship. More important than that championship, of course, is the big one -- the Stanley Cup. Part of what gets a team to the finals is smart dealing, shrewd signings, and generally being responsible stewards of money. The Blues embody those. The other thing that's important? Money.
The Blues don't have a lot of that last part. Forbes has them listed as the least valued team in the NHL, despite the team's success and growth. The last ownership group didn't help the situation by selling off the parking and concession rights for a quick buck. Despite the "consecutive sellouts" and being 9th in league attendance, the Blues aren't flush with cash -- being in a middle market will do that to you.
Teams like the Blues, as well as smaller (or "non-traditional") markets like the Florida Panthers and a few other Sun Belt teams, were the ones that the new CBA was supposed to help. Some owners and most of the players wanted increased revenue sharing for the growth of the league -- to create, of course, future revenue while supporting teams that might not have bucks right now. The larger teams who don't have to worry about things like "cash flow" and have mad bucks to throw at free agents didn't want to share the wealth to the degree that the players and smaller team owners wanted them to. What happens now?
Well, the cap floor dropped, which should help out teams like the Blues -- if they only spent to the floor, which they don't (CapGeek has them at $53,649,999, almost $10 million over the floor). The Blues aren't broke, but they know that they have to use the money that they have wisely. They can't be like teams who irresponsibly throw huge contracts at players. They can't afford to. But the teams that can, by throwing said contracts around, undermine every other team in the league while at the same time limiting the success of the competition by only allowing sharing to go up to $200 million. That's not going to go far to increase the success of the NHL's business model as a whole.
Successful leagues aren't created by making sure that there are haves and have nots. The NFL is successful directly because of the very sharing that the NHL seems so scared of, and one can argue, the very sharing that they've created a necessity for. By expanding the league into markets that need a hand, while at the same time allowing owners to devalue teams or just flat out run them inappropriately, the league has made their own problem. It also doesn't seem like the league fixed it.
A little bit of sharing could be that extra push that the Blues need to get past the second round, but when you're sharing $200 million with 20 other teams, what good will that accomplish?
Jeff Gordon highlights the new contract lengths and terms, which make sure stupid owners don't throw money and length at players. He points out that the terms (max length 8 years to your current team, 7 to a new one) benefit the Blues as another team can't lure a top guy away with the promise of a huge, lengthy, cap circumventing contract. That's great that we'll keep the status quo for a while. They got us a banner. The Blues need to add a few pieces to get the city of St. Louis a better quality banner, though, and the new CBA insures that it'll probably be a few years coming.