Confusion in the swamp

Tom Lycan, who writes the Devils Due blog, appears to be very mixed up:

In James Mirtle's blog, he covers the whining in Ottawa about the new salary cap. After all, it sure is unfair that owners can't buy their teams into the playoffs by stockpiling talent without doing any scouting or salary balancing. What is the new NHL coming to?

Um, what?

The post he's talking about from everyone's favorite copy editor, err sports journalist, is here. Mirtle quotes me as one of the "whiners". I was just happy with all the hits I got as a result of the linkage. I disagree with what James said, but could at least see where he was coming from.

Lycan? I think he's out of his friggin' mind.

No one is "whining" in Ottawa about not being able to buy our way into the playoffs or stockpiling teams. Show me when this franchise has ever done that and how this new cap has restricted it.

Just to be clear, we're "whining" about the fact we can't hold on the players the team has scouted and developed. A sort of important difference, I believe.

And really, "whining" is a bit of an exaggeration. The whole motivation for Mirtle's post was a paragraph in a 3,200 word post I wrote. If you want an example of whining in blog form, this is usually a good place to start. Don't say I didn't warn you though.

The reality is that the current CBA is designed to create parity. It's intention is to distribute talent throughout the league, which in turn punishes clubs that draft and develop well because the system in place punishes those who teams, rendering them unable to hold onto all the talents they've established. As a fan of such a team, I'm not necessarily jumping for joy at this undeniable fact.

Now, Mirtle is right when he points out that even in the old system it would have been difficult for the Senators to keep all the talent together. Even in the years of free spending, Ottawa operated with a tight budget. In order to maintain this roster, they would have to raise ticket prices to level that this market cannot pay. However, a part of the new CBA is the lowered age of UFA status. Previously, Ottawa was able to hold on to their players until 31. Now, it's become much more difficult, as even if a player isn't a UFA yet, it's looming much sooner. It's changed the way things are done.

And James is also correct that, at the end of the day, Sens fans can't treat all this as a grand travesty because it's not as if this team, as talented on paper as they may be, have accomplished a whole lot as a unit, a fact I also made mention of when talking about why I wasn't suicidal over the Martin Havlat trade. The Senators have zero Cup banners hanging from the rafters, so maybe changes, even if they don't seem wonderful initially, are a good thing.

However, what it all comes down to, and what really burns me, is that I feel misled. For a year, we heard from the talking heads throughout the league, including one currently employed by the Senators organization, that the new CBA and the salary cap that makes up so much of it was necessary for teams to thrive and that in particular Ottawa would see the benefits of it.

I don't doubt that there are in fact upsides to the new CBA for the Senators organization, but when I realize we lost a year of hockey for all this, I sometimes sorta think it sucks.

UPDATE: Adam Proteau of The Hockey News has an article about this very subject. Very little new ground besides his generalization of every Canadian hockey market that I'm sure will go over very well. Also confirms my belief that THN gets much of their editorial ideas from blogs.

Awww eff it, I have to point this part out, because it shows just how out of touch Proteau is with this piece
"If you’re not successful I guess it becomes a lot easier because you become a buyer," Muckler said. "If you’re successful you become a seller."

Easier? Beg pardon, John? Nobody’s got it easier these days, not when the margin for error is precisely the same as it is in 29 other markets.

I really don't want to be the John Muckler defender of the Internet, because I believe I've made it pretty clear how I feel about the job he's done, however, dropping this quote in there, out of context, does Proteau's readers a real disservice and paints a misleading picture, though I imagine that's the point, as it furthers his argument.

Having read the source article of the quote, Muckler's "easier" referred to a team's ability to hold onto their good players, not winning, though one might argue the two are closely linked.

It's pretty basic logic, I assumed. If a team does well, their assets are considered hot commodities. If a team struggles, it's usually because their players have underperformed, and thus, the other 29 clubs won't be as eager to scoop up their youngsters.