The other day Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Michael Vick used the word “dynasty” in referring to the possibilities for the Eagles. Immediately the media and fans shuddered and were outraged by his contention.
So, I ask are dynasties a good thing? Perhaps, for the fans of that annually-winning team they certainly would tell you it’s just fine. But, are dynasties good for sports?
I think we learned a long time ago that parity in sports is a good thing. It’s not just more enjoyable for the fans, it’s just good business.
The National Hockey League might be the most brittle of the four major sports. In fact, in a recent article that appeared on Bleacher Report, some outstanding advice was presented on ways the NHL might deal with struggling franchises of which they’ve had their share – the Atlanta Thrashers last year; the Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils this year. While there are numerous strategies that may help, including relocating teams to areas where there’s a solid fan base, I believe the most important element is to ensure parity.
To his credit, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wants parity and is striving to guarantee it in the league, and I’ve got proof.
As we know, we may just experience another sports “here we go again” moment as the NHL and NHLPA negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. The NHL proposed a new CBA recently, which was subsequently “tabled.” But, if examined closely, it was filled with attempts at parity.
Some of the major points of that tabled agreement included (1) players portion of the revenue sharing would be reduced from 57% to 46%; (2) player contracts would be limited to five years; (3) unrestricted free agency eligibility would be changed from 7 to 10 years; and, (4) entry-level contracts would be extended from three years to five years.
Each and every one of those proposals is designed to ensure player stability within their franchises and to assist in providing parity particularly to the small market teams.
Photo Credit: AP
Consider for a moment that had this been the CBA in effect, the 9-year $51 million contract the Philadelphia Flyers signed with Ilya Bryzgalov last year would not have been permitted. The recent 13-year $98 million contracts the Minnesota Wild signed with both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would be invalid. And, the disgusting 14-year $110 million offer the Flyers have extended to Shea Weber would be a violation.
Did I say “disgusting”? Yes, I did and, I could add a bunch of other “dis” words like, “disgraceful”, “disreputable”, and “disturbing.” And, regardless of a new CBA or not, it is very much a “violation.”
Let me be clear, I have been an enormous Flyers fan for the past 38 years. I love all my Philly teams, but the Flyers are first in my book. I also know that my opinion here is not going to be popular amongst Philadelphia fans but, follow me through.
Above being a Flyers fan, I am a hockey fan first.
It’s no secret that the New Jersey Devils are a struggling franchise. There have been steady rumors of the NHL taking over the near bankrupt organization as they did the Phoenix Coyotes a year ago. So the Minnesota Wild’s sweeping, glove-in-face swiping of one of the Devil’s & Nashville Predators biggest stars was tantamount to an unruly mob looting stores during a blackout. If the Devils were having trouble putting butts in the seats when Parise was there, the immediate prospect for any type of financial rebound for that organization is not optimistic.
Now before you go ripping me, I recognize that all is fair in love, war, and free agency. But, the “creative financing” of the Flyers offer to Predators’ She Weber is so over the top – so, almost sleazy covert – so, disturbing to a true “hockey” fan, that it reeks of some illegal gambling & money-laundering scheme and, has taken these recent monster NHL contracts to a level of disdainful (there’s a “dis” word I haven’t used).
Allegedly the 14-year offer extended to Weber has him being paid a salary of $1 million for the first four years however, receiving a “signing bonus” of $13 million each of those four years. In short, should Weber wear the orange and black next year, he would be paid a base salary of $12 million plus a staggering $64 million in signing bonuses for a total of $76 million for years one through six. By structuring the offer in this manner with so much front-loaded cash and bonuses, the “Broad Street Bully” Flyers have kicked sand in the face of the scrawny Predators and have probably made it impossible for Nashville, a franchise only worth $160 million, to match.
Without both Suter and Weber, what impact will that have on that “small market” operation in Nashville? Trust me, it won’t be good for them . . . and, that’s subsequently not good for the NHL.
The big market “muscle-flexing big boys” (of which I count the Flyers) have run amuck, and are begging for constraints which must be (and probably will be) addressed in the next CBA for the health and welfare of the long-term prospect of the entire league. Some of the larger, financially sound teams have thrown themselves (and the rest of the teams) on the sword of avarice and greed and many are not going to like the outcome, but they have no one to blame but themselves and their own arrogance. That will no doubt lead to a prolonged and protracted CBA negotiation process, something none of us “hockey” fans want to hear. As much as I don’t want to think it, because of the actions of a mighty few, I believe we’ll be looking at best, a shortened 2012-13 NHL season a la the NBA.
In order for the NHL to maintain its fourth place in the pecking order of sports, the next CBA can be loaded with all kinds of new things and rule changes but, those are all minor if it does not address an essential principle – parity!
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