Martin Lapointe and NHL player salaries

JP Nikota
August 15 2012 07:49AM

"Everybody but the people who run teams base performance on how many points you get [or] how many goals. Well, we don't. If he gets goals, that helps, but you have to look at the overall contribution to the team. Martin [Lapointe]'s a character person. He comes to play every night. He came from a winning program. And we needed at his position."

- Harry Sinden

The above quote tells us a lot about how the NHL's financial situation got to be where it is today.

Note: Once again, I've culled a substantial amount of this information from Bruce Dowbiggin's Money Players. Give it a read.

A bit of background first:

Back in 2001, when Sinden made these remarks, most players didn't hit free agency until their early thirties, but there existed a clause in the CBA that any player could become an unrestricted free agent if, after ten years in the league, if said player's salary remained below league average. Because Martin Lapointe had signed longer term deals through the earlier part of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, his services had remained cost-controlled in an era when player salaries were rising dramatically. Thus, at what was then the relatively early age of 28, the two-time Cup champion was free to test the open market.

The end result of this situation is that Lapointe was signed to a $20-million, four-year deal with Sinden's Boston Bruins. Then as now, for a third-line player that had only once exceeded the twenty goal mark, this was a heck of a lot of money for the Bruins to pay (click here to see how you could make some money). Since this deal was something of a landmark, this caused a lot of people trouble.

A sign of things past:

Perhaps I should adjust this title to read "things that should have been left in the past", but the reality is, any GM that was (or continues) building a team with this intangible approach to team building was left in the dust long ago by other, more business-like (read: competent) managers around the league.

Look, knowledge of intangibles is critical to your ability to manage people in any capacity—believe me, I get it, I'm a teacher—and managing a hockey team is no different. Knowledge of a player's habits and pastimes can be critical when you make all kinds of decisions for your team, and I don't only mean trades. How is this player's young family doing? How have they been fitting in socially with the other players in the room? How is their work ethic?

When push comes to shove, however, the numbers have to come first. Signing a player to a ridiculous multi-year deal based primarily on intangibles will almost certainly lead to ruin. Some general managers put more weight on numbers than others, but it's only become more and more true that monetary investment in a player has to be tied to more concrete benchmarks.

Did Martin Lapointe turn the Bruins' franchise around by being "a character person" or "coming to play every night"? He most definitely did not, but he can't be blamed for that.

A sign of signings present:

There were a lot of factors that contributed to the spiraling player salaries throughout the 90's and early oughts: players began to disclose and compare their salaries, which brought about changes to salary arbitration, the nature of free agency changed, offer sheets were introduced, and the league owners were getting temporarily fat with the money from relocation and expansion fees. There were other factors as well, but landmark deals played a big role in ramping up the salaries of not just the Gretzkys and Lindroses, but the Martin Lapointes as well.

When a GM goes hog wild for a player that doesn't have the concrete numbers to support the financial investment, he is inflating the value of every player of the same ilk. Sure, Jaromir Jagr might have been worth 9-10 million dollars in 2001, but that deal wouldn't help player agents of middling NHLers nearly as much as when Lapointe signed this offer.

Ever wonder how a guy like Brendan Prust gets $2.5M from Marc Bergevin and the Montréal Canadiens? This is a similar, if not causally related situation. You would think, since Bergevin also signed Colby Armstrong, a player that was an overpaid, bottom-six player, that it would occur to him that it was a bad idea to give Prust that kind of money, but here we are.

Boo hoo, my players are costing me too much:

Well of course they are, idiot. For two decades, players were well-paid on the basis of intangible nonsense, and then everyone absolutely peed their pants when a player finally hit free agency under the age of thirty, causing things to get crazy for a couple years until the league wound up cancelling a whole entire season to try and fix their mess with a salary cap.

Another eight years later, general managers still become so desperate to add one "key" enforcer or a "specialist" for the PK or faceoff dot that they continue to make poor financial decisions for the sake of a player who is willing to "go to the tough areas of the ice" or "raise the compete level". 

Stop signing Martin Lapointe.

D84a93f7cd388193e2fcf402ddc4805f
Follow me on Twitter @JPNikota
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#1 DSF
August 15 2012, 11:33AM
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Last line of the article should have been "stop signing Shawn Horcoff".

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#2 Archaeologuy
August 15 2012, 09:02AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

exactly, UFA period typdically has way more demand then supply.

A 30 team league will do that. Fewer teams, more good players to go around, less demand.

Owners want to keep costs in check, either start cloning good players or cut back the amount of teams vying for existing players' services.

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#3 Tach
August 15 2012, 10:51AM
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Just a reality check here, but everyone posting knows that regardless of the number on the contract, the players as a collective (under the last CBA, last season) were going to receive 57% of the ~$3.3 billion in Hockey Related Revenue?

Even if every team had paid each player the exact minimum amount possible (team payroll floor of ~$54 million per team projected for 2012-13) for a total "on paper" league payroll of ~$1.62 billion, the players, collectively would have received ~$1.88 billion. There was no way for the league to sign players to contracts that would have paid them less than the leage agreed to pay them under the last CBA.

We can argue about whether it was a wise allocation of budger or cap space for a particular player, but any salary inflation since 2005-06 has been driven entirely by increases in Hockey Related Revenue.

Any debate premised on anything other than that starting point is entirely pointless.

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#4 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
August 15 2012, 10:53AM
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Great article.

"Stop signing Martin Lapointe."

Could you also tell all the politicians to stop being corrupt? As long as there's a human factor and robots aren't serving as GM's, Martin Lapointes will be signed.

Really great article though.

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#5 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 15 2012, 10:58AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I think the biggest problem with advanced stats is that certain people tend to over value them. A good Corsi is meaningless to most people, and many of those people that dont care are running NHL teams.

They are all secondary stats to scoring and will always be that way. So while someone can fish for enough secondary stats to make Prust or Lapointe look like a good player, the fact is that at the end of the day those guys need to put points on the board to justify their paycheques.

Paying a guy because of his advanced stats is a pretty dangerous venture.

Advanced stats come into play more on the defensive side of the puck IMO.

Take a guy like PRV for example, sure he might only end up a 12-15 goal scorer, but if you can put him out there against guys like the Parise or the Sedins and he can "out corsi" them, ie keep them from getting shots/scoring chances/goals.... well theirs some value there.

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#6 Spydyr
August 16 2012, 07:45AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Nope. Not as important. Easier to be defensively responsible than it is to be a goal scorer.

They all count the same on the score sheet.Stopping a goal is just as important as scoring one.

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#7 D
August 15 2012, 08:30AM
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Supply and demand works really well if the demand does not reach bubble-like proportions.

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#8 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 15 2012, 08:35AM
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D wrote:

Supply and demand works really well if the demand does not reach bubble-like proportions.

exactly, UFA period typdically has way more demand then supply.

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#9 Chad
August 15 2012, 08:37AM
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Why is there a picture of Robert Lang below the title?

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#10 justDOit
August 15 2012, 09:01AM
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The crazy thing is the disconnect between periods of demand and regular player comparables. GMs will tell you that prices during UFA period are higher because of the nature of the beast - a short term where a lot of teams are bidding on a limited number of players. Sure.

But those same, hyper-inflated salaries that came out of a UFA period are then used as comparables for other players.

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#11 xis10ce
August 15 2012, 09:02AM
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While I generally agree with your article (Kaberle and Babchuk are good examples of overpaid "specialists") there are cases in which paying more for a player who doesn't make insane amounts of goals or assists can be worthwhile.

Malhotra makes over a half mil more than Burrows and puts up 1/3 the points. But then again, would Burrows get so many points without Manny doing all the dirty work? While it could be argued Manny is one of those aformentioned "FO specialists" he also does a great just shutting down the opposition and moving the puck North.

Regardless of your side of the arguement there's always going to be anomolies on both sides.

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#12 the-wolf
August 15 2012, 09:04AM
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The supply and demand factor IMO, is the only real factor.

Too mnay teams, not enough talent. That's why teams overpay, pure and simple. If you want/have to win in order to mkae money than you hvae to get the best players you can. Problem is, there's so few ever out there. To compensate, teams have to spend stupid money on mediocre players because they have no other options.

Contract even 4 teams from the league and salaries would be kept in check. Just by adding 80-120 players into the available talent pool, teams would have far more flexibility.

Even if you look at it as 44 players (top 6 forwards, top 4 D, #1 goalie), every team in the league (now 26) could add a top players and some 2. Certainly every team could add 1 top player and 1 more very serviceable guy. In other words, say goodbye Cory Sarich.

If the league expansion rumors that were around 2 seasons ago come true and the NHL goes to 32 teams salaries would skyrocket.

Expansion, more than anything else, inflated salaries. All for expansion money. Stupid, greedy owners who took the short term cash for new franchises, but have probably pais it all back and then some through player salaries.

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#13 VMR
August 15 2012, 09:36AM
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Only problem with the article is that in the modern age with advanced stats you can have numbers that would suggest why a player like Lapointe may have been worth that money. Then again it comes down to the marketplace and whether other teams would be willing to pay that much, as is the case with free agents somebody probably would.

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#14 Father of 3
August 15 2012, 09:36AM
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It makes less difference of consistent performance when there are unions. Player's salaries are public, and we start having a thing called "comparable", some based on yearly performance, instead of a 3-5 year snap shot which actually shows consistency. Unfortunately that's one of the issues. Another factor is 30 teams and 30 different owners, each with their own ideas on how to build their teams. If you give everyone a pay schedule that states: spend no lower that 45 million and no more that 75 million. What will the owners do? Most owners and GMs build teams with the thought their teams will be a champion. They will spend their money their own way, some unwisely. It's not like they have a system setup that looks at all contracts and says, "sorry, Player A you haven't played to that level of payment yet, you don't deserve 5 million, only 3 million." How do you control each owner? It's like saying each household who makes 45-75 Thousand dollars a year will spending their money identically. Everyone throws in there wants in with their needs. The lines start to get crossed. I want a newer truck (Steve Stamkos), but do I really need a new truck. My old one (Ales Hemsky) still gets me from point A to point B, but not as luxurious as I want, you know, not the same flash or production I once had. There is a guy out there though, that does it differently. They say, I want a new truck(Stamkos), therefore I need a new truck(Stamkos), and they go and get it. How do you control what the owners spend their money on? You can't!! However the sport is evaluated on winning. You have a way better chance with the newer truck than the older one. It's a very sharp, double edged sword.

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#15 Jonathan Willis
August 15 2012, 09:44AM
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@Chad

Great catch!

I missed it when I was reviewing this piece, fixed now.

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#16 Rick
August 15 2012, 09:58AM
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Using Lapointe as your example is a little off target.

Yes it was terrible contract and yes it caused all sorts of problems as a comparable moving forward but it's been largely understood that it is not the result of the Bruins misjudging a player's worth or the intangibles he may or may not bring...no matter what Harry Sinden said at the time.

The popular understanding being reported at the time was that the Lapointe signing was born from a grudge Jeremy Jacobs was Holding towards Ilitch after they got into a heated argument and Ilitch said Jacobs was to cheap to ice a winner. Or something to that effect.

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#17 Will
August 15 2012, 09:59AM
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Odd then the league would want to eliminate bonus structures. It seems to me that singing players for less money, but including heavy bonus structures would be the way to combat this. That way, if you sign a character guy, but he doesn't hit his targets, even if the coach deliberately uses him so that he doesn't have much of a chance to hit his targets, well then you paid the correct dollar value for the player.

Now many will say that will just mean coaches will cap ice time in order to avoid paying out bonuses. I don't think that's true in that if a player is on fire, it behooves coaches to give them as much quality ice time as possible in order to win.

I understand the league likely is trying to eliminate cap circumvention, but if they lowered the cap yet allowed more room for bonuses, the good players would get paid, and the Hemsky's would get paid what their worth.

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#18 Monaertchi
August 15 2012, 10:02AM
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@xis10ce

Shutting down opposition players, moving the puck North, and winning faceoffs are not unscientific intangibles like "comes to pay hard every shift".

They are quantifiable and have real value. How much value gets assigned to them is up to each team.

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#19 Archaeologuy
August 15 2012, 10:10AM
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VMR wrote:

Only problem with the article is that in the modern age with advanced stats you can have numbers that would suggest why a player like Lapointe may have been worth that money. Then again it comes down to the marketplace and whether other teams would be willing to pay that much, as is the case with free agents somebody probably would.

I think the biggest problem with advanced stats is that certain people tend to over value them. A good Corsi is meaningless to most people, and many of those people that dont care are running NHL teams.

They are all secondary stats to scoring and will always be that way. So while someone can fish for enough secondary stats to make Prust or Lapointe look like a good player, the fact is that at the end of the day those guys need to put points on the board to justify their paycheques.

Paying a guy because of his advanced stats is a pretty dangerous venture.

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#20 AutoOiler
August 15 2012, 10:11AM
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The owners if they wanted to make the league viable would be fighting to have the cap floor percentage based off of the cap. 50% would seem reasonable. 70 million upper 35 million lower. The franchises that are not making money and are having trouble reaching the cap floor would be given a little more breathing room. The big clubs should not be allowed to bury salary in the minors. This adds to the inflation. Increasing equation payments to the small market teams. Would also help. So would putting teams into money making markets. Seattle, Hamilton and Quebec City. And out of Phoenix, Dallas and Long islan

The league is making money as a whole but it appears there is very little unity among the owners to make it work.

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#21 Monaertchi
August 15 2012, 10:12AM
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@Will

It's not odd that the league would want to eliminate large bonuses. It could very easily circumvent the cap and rich teams get good players because they can offord to pay huge bonuses, while poor teams can barely afford either.

If they allowed huge bonuses, eventually a rich team (NYR, LA, etc...) would try to sign Crosby to $8.70 per year plus an achievable $25,000,000.00 per year in bonuses. They would then have the cap space to trade for players with huge existing contracts (ie: Parise). A smart GM could end up with an All-Star team that fits under the cap. No bueno.

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#22 Steve
August 15 2012, 10:18AM
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Monaertchi wrote:

It's not odd that the league would want to eliminate large bonuses. It could very easily circumvent the cap and rich teams get good players because they can offord to pay huge bonuses, while poor teams can barely afford either.

If they allowed huge bonuses, eventually a rich team (NYR, LA, etc...) would try to sign Crosby to $8.70 per year plus an achievable $25,000,000.00 per year in bonuses. They would then have the cap space to trade for players with huge existing contracts (ie: Parise). A smart GM could end up with an All-Star team that fits under the cap. No bueno.

Bonuses count against cap space.

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#23 JF
August 15 2012, 10:28AM
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Monaertchi wrote:

It's not odd that the league would want to eliminate large bonuses. It could very easily circumvent the cap and rich teams get good players because they can offord to pay huge bonuses, while poor teams can barely afford either.

If they allowed huge bonuses, eventually a rich team (NYR, LA, etc...) would try to sign Crosby to $8.70 per year plus an achievable $25,000,000.00 per year in bonuses. They would then have the cap space to trade for players with huge existing contracts (ie: Parise). A smart GM could end up with an All-Star team that fits under the cap. No bueno.

Oh poo.

Owners don't want to remove bonuses because they can "very easily circumvent the cap" bonuses are counted against the cap.

They want to remove bonuses because the primary point of leverage a team has over a player is his paycheque. If you give him 95% of his paycheques all at once the only leverage you have over him is the remaining 5%. Think Shea Weber is sweating the CBA negotiations? I think the the 13,000,000.00 signing bonus sitting in his bank account says that he isn't.

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#24 SmellOfVictory
August 15 2012, 10:34AM
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xis10ce wrote:

While I generally agree with your article (Kaberle and Babchuk are good examples of overpaid "specialists") there are cases in which paying more for a player who doesn't make insane amounts of goals or assists can be worthwhile.

Malhotra makes over a half mil more than Burrows and puts up 1/3 the points. But then again, would Burrows get so many points without Manny doing all the dirty work? While it could be argued Manny is one of those aformentioned "FO specialists" he also does a great just shutting down the opposition and moving the puck North.

Regardless of your side of the arguement there's always going to be anomolies on both sides.

Malholtra isn't paid solely on intangibles, though; it's not "man he's a nice guy, let's give him a fat contract." It's "he prevents pucks from going toward our net and wins a lot of faceoffs, let's give him a fat contract."

Although goals were used as a specific data type in this post, "numbers" refers to any (relatively) objective data, which includes shots against, and allows for some quantification of defensive players.

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#25 Will
August 15 2012, 11:03AM
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JF wrote:

Oh poo.

Owners don't want to remove bonuses because they can "very easily circumvent the cap" bonuses are counted against the cap.

They want to remove bonuses because the primary point of leverage a team has over a player is his paycheque. If you give him 95% of his paycheques all at once the only leverage you have over him is the remaining 5%. Think Shea Weber is sweating the CBA negotiations? I think the the 13,000,000.00 signing bonus sitting in his bank account says that he isn't.

Ahhh, that makes sense now. It really seems like the owners are selling one idea, lowering the cap and not doling out inflated contracts, and then immediately doing the opposite. I mean they're breaking the rules they themselves fought for, thus creating a worse situation which they then have to renegotiate. If you ask me, the owners group just needs to police itself better. Make itself accountable for some the ludicrous contracts being handed out, instead of having it come down on the players' heads, and screwing the fans over with another lockout.

However, thanks for pointing out bonuses count against the cap, hence my original idea could still potentially work. Quick, someone get Bettman on the phone, Oilers Nation has solved it!

What's that? Garry Bettman doesn't give a rats ass about the fans and what they have to say? Alright then, lets all throw bags of poop on his porch!

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#26 Monaertchi
August 15 2012, 11:07AM
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@Steve

Well then. My argument is invalid.

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#27 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
August 15 2012, 11:09AM
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@Tach

Bam!

Edit: Curious as to when and where the the NHLPA (I assume) would collect that extra 260 million should that scenario occur. Also, how would that money get doled out?

Not important just wondering.

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#28 Cody anderson
August 15 2012, 11:37AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I think the biggest problem with advanced stats is that certain people tend to over value them. A good Corsi is meaningless to most people, and many of those people that dont care are running NHL teams.

They are all secondary stats to scoring and will always be that way. So while someone can fish for enough secondary stats to make Prust or Lapointe look like a good player, the fact is that at the end of the day those guys need to put points on the board to justify their paycheques.

Paying a guy because of his advanced stats is a pretty dangerous venture.

I disagreee with this. I think the advanced stats are often more important than scoring. If you iced a line of 100 point players and that line scores 250 goals during the year. That does not mean you are winiing because of them. what if nobody on the line backchecks and they get scored on 300 times.

Taking quality of competition out of the equation your team would actually fare better without these 3 superstars. (obviously if they are facing the hardest competition you have to consider that your next line will now have to face that competition)

Now take a 2nd or 3rd line that only gets 100 goals for the season. If they are facing the same toughs and only get scored on 80 times then you are winning because of this line.

If you are moving the puck in the right direction, facing tough competition, and outscoring your competition then you are contributing to your team winning much more than a line that is getting way more points but being outscored.

A lote of top lines are fed as easy of minutes as possible and still get outscored. These are not the players that are winning the game for your team.

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#29 VMR
August 15 2012, 11:43AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I think the biggest problem with advanced stats is that certain people tend to over value them. A good Corsi is meaningless to most people, and many of those people that dont care are running NHL teams.

They are all secondary stats to scoring and will always be that way. So while someone can fish for enough secondary stats to make Prust or Lapointe look like a good player, the fact is that at the end of the day those guys need to put points on the board to justify their paycheques.

Paying a guy because of his advanced stats is a pretty dangerous venture.

You dont pay a goalie based on how many points he gets, no reason you should pay a defenceman or a checking forward based on points.

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#30 the-wolf
August 15 2012, 12:04PM
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Max Powers - Team HME Evans wrote:

Bam!

Edit: Curious as to when and where the the NHLPA (I assume) would collect that extra 260 million should that scenario occur. Also, how would that money get doled out?

Not important just wondering.

I think you have the math wrong, 3.3 Billion is the total. 57% of that is 1.88.

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#31 Tach
August 15 2012, 12:13PM
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@Max Powers - Team HME Evans

There is a mechanism in the expired CBA that allows for equaliztion of the players' share at the end of the season. See sections 50.11 and more specifically 50.11(c) of the expired CBA. Basically, they do the math and if the Owners are short, they have to cough up their share in proportion to the amount their teams salaries made up of total league salaries. In my scenario, each team would have to kick in the same amount.

On the players' side, they had to have significant portions of their payments placed into an escrow account and, once the final accounting was done, the proper proportions of that escrow account were distributed to the owners and players so the ultimate HRR distribution was reached. For reasons beyond my contemplation this caused the players some concern and you probably heard about it referred to as "escrow deductions" or "escrow payments".

I don't believe that this scenario I contemplated ever happened over the term of the last CBA, so whether it would have worked is something we will all just have to imagine about.

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#32 Tach
August 15 2012, 12:17PM
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@the-wolf

He is talking about the differential between the contract face value amount (~$1.62 billion) and the Players' Share entitlement (~$1.88 billion) which is a differential of $.26 billion or $260 million.

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#33 the-wolf
August 15 2012, 12:22PM
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Tach wrote:

He is talking about the differential between the contract face value amount (~$1.62 billion) and the Players' Share entitlement (~$1.88 billion) which is a differential of $.26 billion or $260 million.

Oops, read that wrong, my apologies to you both.

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#34 Archaeologuy
August 15 2012, 12:51PM
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VMR wrote:

You dont pay a goalie based on how many points he gets, no reason you should pay a defenceman or a checking forward based on points.

And how much are you willing to pay based on Secondary stats?

How much can you afford to pay a third liner for being good at playing top quality opposition or for having a decent fenwick rating?

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#35 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 15 2012, 01:00PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

And how much are you willing to pay based on Secondary stats?

How much can you afford to pay a third liner for being good at playing top quality opposition or for having a decent fenwick rating?

Obviously not as much as you pay for primary stats (ie goals)

But a really good third liner that can keep the puck out of our end when other teams elite players are on the ice are certainly worth a nice salary.

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#36 Spydyr
August 15 2012, 01:57PM
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Example.....A forward on the forecheck knocks a defensman off the puck.His winger picks it up and slides a pass across to the wide open center.He taps it in for an easy goal.

What caused the goal?

The winger making the first hit.The rest was just basic hockey .Yet they get the points.The hitter nothing.Same scenario with a player screening the goalie.Players who go to the tough parts of the ice are worth more than those that don't.

Points alone does not a player make!

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#37 Archaeologuy
August 15 2012, 03:23PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

And when the new coach comes in and starts playing Power vs Power and that 3rd liner is no longer being used to shut down top players, we are paying him for what?

That's my issue here. Goals/Points are a shallow criteria for pay, but at the end of the day it's the bottom line. Goals win games. You can score them? Great, here's a blank cheque. You can play against top opposition? That's nice, but what happens when the coach doesnt want you to do that? Can you score goals? No? Let me talk to accounting about that next contract.

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#38 Spydyr
August 15 2012, 03:32PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

And when the new coach comes in and starts playing Power vs Power and that 3rd liner is no longer being used to shut down top players, we are paying him for what?

That's my issue here. Goals/Points are a shallow criteria for pay, but at the end of the day it's the bottom line. Goals win games. You can score them? Great, here's a blank cheque. You can play against top opposition? That's nice, but what happens when the coach doesnt want you to do that? Can you score goals? No? Let me talk to accounting about that next contract.

Using your logic.

Isn't a goal stopped with a good defensive play as important as a goal scored?

Goals win games scoring them AND stopping them.

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#39 Oilcruzer
August 15 2012, 06:12PM
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I don't know that any rule in the contract will protect against stupidity.

Take Cliff Fletcher. He was the GM of Toronto. His job is on the line. Everyone is pressing him from the centre of the universe to try and make a silk purse from a sow's ear. There was no hope. No player wants to go to a loser that has no future coming. Unless that is, that player is thrown a boatload of cash.

Cliff has to do something, or so he thinks. He signs Jeff Finger to a 14M 4 yr deal.

What happens? Jeff sees the minors for years three and four. Cliff loses his job.

Now what scenario would ever fix that? Maybe a complete release of all players and a redraft of the league every year, but that isn't happening.

Whatever deal is brokered, the agents and GMs will exploit it to their own agenda.

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#40 Archaeologuy
August 15 2012, 09:30PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Using your logic.

Isn't a goal stopped with a good defensive play as important as a goal scored?

Goals win games scoring them AND stopping them.

Nope. Not as important. Easier to be defensively responsible than it is to be a goal scorer.

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#41 Franko J
August 15 2012, 10:49PM
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@ OilCruzer Could not agree more. From the owners to the player agents it is all about exploitation. As well, plenty of ego involved from all parties involved.

For example, free agency on July 1ST is all about which owner is willing enough to spend a ridiculous amount of money on average talent. Most the time you hear the owner and GM it is for the betterment of the team and to show the fans that they are a contender, but realistically it is about owners competitive egos.

From a players perspective, why not sign to the highest bidder. After all, IMO there are very few players who play "For the Love of the Game", for the most part it is about the money.

Look at what recently transpired this past off-season. The NHL had two teams which cried money woes since their existence in the league and spent close to 300 million for 3 players. Both sides right now are very happy and content. What happens if these players don't make their respective team much better than what they are now?

No matter how the current CBA negotiations will come to pass, in the end it is the fans who are going to pay more for their tickets and popcorn.

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#42 PrairieStew
August 16 2012, 01:25AM
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The problem I have with advanced stats is that they don't measure judgement. The example I like to use Alex Tanguay. The guy doesn't take alot of shots so his positive corsi events are pretty low. When he has the puck in the slot but the goalie has him squared up, he will try and make a cross crease pass that may miss but will be a better scoring chance than a 30 foot wrister in to the goalies logo. He played 1200 minutes last year and only recorded 84 shots on goal. By comparison Tim Jackman managed to get 103 shots in less than 700 minutes. I am going to guess that Jackman had way more of his shots blocked than Alex did as well padding his corsi stats. Who is a better player ?

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#43 TheLastBigBear
August 16 2012, 06:30AM
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The current salary problems in the NHL are an absolutely classical case of the "Tragedy of the Commons" (wiki it if it's new to you).

Each manager overpays a couple of guys. They know Dennis Wideman isn't worth $5+m, but they really *really* need a top-4 defenceman. And besides, all it costs them is an extra $1m, that's a tiny portion of the payroll. Meanwhile in Vancouver, Gillis is trying hard to put his team over the top, so he makes a generous offer to Jason Garrison, which overpays him by about $1m.

They have now raised the bar for powerplay specialist defencemen by $1m.

Repeat the process 28 more times. Every team now faces overpaying by $1m on every contract at every position. Nobody has to do anything wrong, nobody needs to do anything 'stupid', or hand out ridiculous contracts. Just pay slightly over the odds in one aspect of their roster with each new season, and the net effect is disastrous.

Then throw in $100+m offer sheets, and some *actually* stupid contracts, and you get a system that gets completely out of control very quickly.

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#44 the-wolf
August 16 2012, 08:28AM
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Yeah, 1 year contracts (with teams still retaining rights) would fix a lot.

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#45 the-wolf
August 16 2012, 08:43AM
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Of course, what's also not mentioned is that if the owners do try to restrain themselves, the players and union immediately cry collusion.

Kill 4 teams and go to 1 year contracts (you can still insure for 5 years or whatever in case of career-ending injury, etc.)

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#46 Archaeologuy
August 16 2012, 09:22AM
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Spydyr wrote:

They all count the same on the score sheet.Stopping a goal is just as important as scoring one.

Yes, but we're talking about contracts here, not what's happening in the game. If it's easier to find people who can play defense than it is to find people who can score goals then why would you pay defensive players the same?

You wouldnt. And if you would then you will end up with an expensive team filled with grinders and Shawn Horcoffs.

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#47 Tach
August 16 2012, 10:35AM
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@PrairieStew

Well, presumably if Tanguay was better at keeping the puck on his stick, and away from the other team, he would have more positive events (keeping in mind that Corsi measures shot attempts from everyone on your team, not just your own shot attempts) in the offensive end, and less events where the other team shooting at the Flames end. While he might come up with a low rate, the ratio of events should display this. All the data shows that shot attempts correlates to possession correlates to winning. No one is suggesting shooting the puck more often increases possession. It is a proxy.

I do agree that there is something to conversion rate of possession that has not been fully teased out yet in the data. The point in my craw is the Sedins. Everyone raves about how Vigneault must be using advanced stats to come to his conclusion to start the Sedins in the offensive zone all the time. I think the opposite is true. If there is no repeatable ability to convert possession, then why would it matter where they start from. If they shifted possession from anywhere on the ice, it should contribute the same amount to winning as maintaining a high O-zone possession rate off of a faceoff.

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#48 The Keystone Garter
August 16 2012, 02:32PM
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I think Jets could get a better UFA D, if not this yr than next year, than $5.5M/yr for Enstrom. The owners were okay losing money when franchise values rose. Now with the recession, I like Bettman's cap, it could go lower or incorporate a rolling average or a minimum salary subtraction (to account for injuries without needing to remove injury-prone player on and off cap), but Bettman blundered going to the south, where players don't come from. The South voted in RWers who ran recessions and killed their middle class. So now the billionairre owners are hunderd millionaires and can't afford to keep losing money I assume, as their balance sheets are liquid while their owned team can't be sold off except in one chunk... tsn has series on internet, didn't even know was OT. Russia with resource prices can play.

This is where Jets get ripped off picking from USA league. USA and EU could put a team together and make it a 3 team double round robin with a championship game or best of 3. I'll be back with my final 2012 draft after watching...

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#49 The Keystone Garter
August 16 2012, 02:48PM
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Maple Leafs franchise value is so high because of taxpayer CBC subsidy. It would be good to watch any other team in the league that has made the playoffs at least once post-lockout. Toronto used to have Nieuwendyk, Roberts, Sundin, Belfour...now it is a Saturday night Canadians have to spend with their idiot families. There have been some big entertainment winners and losers as telecom has been revolutionized. I'd say materials science advances have made the ice game a winner even without Blackhawks, Wings, or Canucks on TV every Saturday recently (or Phi with healthy Giroux or healthy Crosby + Malkin). Lighter pads compo sticks and shot blocking pads make the game quicker. It is too easy to get a long FG in basketball now as well as a dunk/layup (never call offensive foul). Why I liked 1908s college games was the offense was team-oriented, at least in the Jordan-Ewing final. Defense is always team oriented. It is good to watch because passing is faster than carrying especially on wood. Moving the 3pt line back two ft and introducing a 4pt line 6 ft back would spring some novel defenses and an end to my channel changes. Instant replay coach challenges on offensive fouls....the Russia team is a yr less. After Cherypanov got erased by Sutter, I'd guess if a team's average age is a yr less in these friendlies, they should be allowed a yr overage ringer. A Kulikov or Vyonov.

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#50 PrairieStew
August 16 2012, 03:43PM
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@Tach

Well I guess the ultimate measurable event is goals that go in.I used the extreme comparable of Tanguay vs Jackman intentionally to illustrate what I see as the shortcoming of the corsi measure. To me just because you are registering shots toward net doesn't necessarily mean you are winning the puck possesion battle. You could have a forward group that is really good at cycling the puck down low for 20 to 30 seconds that only generates one shot that is blocked where it heads back up ice and the opposition flips a 45 foot wrister on goal before heading off on a change. Equal number of corsi events not equally effective or predictive of future success.

I know people will talk about regressing back to the mean - but that only applies to random systems not hockey players who display real tendencies. Jackman shoots alot with some pretty limited results, from everywhere with a lousy shot. Tanguay on the other hand is a career 18% shooter, not only because of his physical skill but also his decision making; he knows when he has a chance to score and shoots then, otherwise he passes and it may not end up in a corsi event for him and his linemates. What I am saying is that a guy like Tanguay will probably produce more results (goals) than what could be predicted from corsi, fenwick or PDO, and it is not luck or a temporary deviation from the mean. Conversely there are guys who will have those good underlying numbers who may never actually be that effective because all shots are not created equal.

What I would caution against is putting too much stock in the advanced stats without balancing it with qualitative analysis. So for example, I would like to see a guy like Mikael Backlund to improve his decision making with the puck, something I can't identify with a stat. He has had good corsi numbers, but my observation is that he takes low percentage shots.

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