Gary Bettman

The New League

by Timmy Corbett

In the eyes of a player, the new collective bargaining agreement is a devastating defeat, and an about face by their union. The fans also have turned away from the sport, and as a deeper insult, so will some players.  Established stars will retire without fanfare, without a proper farewell of any kind. With the pay scale and emergence of the European economy quite similar to North America, many Europeans will stay in their native lands to play instead of venturing to the NHL.

The European leagues have a less grinding style than the North American system based style, it affords more finesse passing and open speed. Young players will no longer have to come over to immerse themselves in new styles, new languages, new schools and new cultures for the gamble of making it in the NHL. The new CBA may well take out the international feel of the game.

The returning players have a different set of problems facing them now, there will be a mad scramble of building teams. With everything even, star players will be unrestricted much earlier (eventually as low as 27 years of age) giving them less pride or feeling of ownership in their jerseys and what that team means. Simply the culture of hockey will change, with the days of all for one gone replaced by a structure that demands a free for all. With everything even one team;s money is just as green and scarce as another’s. With all things even… but all things aren’t even.

There are marquee cities, New York being at the top of the list, the rest are obvious, other Original Six clubs (well five, not counting Chicago), the Canadian cities and those other large US markets like Philadelphia and Dallas at the top of the B tier.  History, fan base, travel schedule (west coast clubs have much greater distances) culture, schools and mostly endorsements can help fuel a players decision of where to play.  The salary cap is also deceiving in that the cap is for player salary, and does not include many of the other expenses such as accommodations, air travel and training facilities which can vary greatly team by team.

When hockey returns, the Rangers might not be in too bad shape, Hartford has been playing at a good level for years.  The fire sale trades that brought in the youngsters has allowed a team to begin growing together, and the infusion of new veterans should make the Rangers at least competitive and entertaining.  With a blank slate league and a slew of new rule changes the Rangers have a genuine shot at proving themselves to be contenders for the first time since 1997.

So much will be uncertain till the end of training camp, the Rangers at least have the city going for them, well that and at one time Sather proved he could put good teams on the ice with a 34 million dollar payroll. Who knows what he can do when everyone has the same 34 million.

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