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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Today In NHL History - Lindros Trade (QUE-PHI)

On June 30th in 1992, Quebec Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut and GM Pierre Page traded 1991 draft day holdout Eric Lindros to Philadelphia.



Amidst confusion among two competing bids, arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi selected Flyers GM Russ Farwell's proposal over New York Rangers GM Neil Smith's package of Doug Weight, Tony Amonte, Alexei Kovalev, John Vanbiesbrouck, three first round draft picks, and $12 million.

The trade ultimately saw Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Chris Simon, two first-round picks (Jocelyn Thibault, Nolan Baumgartner), and $15 million going to Quebec in exchange for the inaugural Next One. The deal remains one of the most significant and lopsided trades in NHL history.

The club would later exchange Hextall for Adam Deadmarsh and package Thibault for Patrick Roy and Mike Keane, claiming two Stanley Cups as the Colorado Avalanche. The Flyers remain winless since 1975.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, June 26, 2015

NHL League Size And Regular Season Length

With this week's release of the regular season schedule for the NHL's 98th season of play, it's a good time to consider this season's offering in the historical context of the number of participating teams and regular season games played since the league's inception 99 years ago.

Years 
Games  Teams
Years
Games  Teams
1917-1918   
22
4
          1978-1979   
80
17
1918-1919
18
3
      1979-1991
80
21
1919-1924
24
4
1991-1992
80
22
1924-1925
30
6
1992-1993
84
24
1925-1926
36
7
1993-1994
84
26
1926-1931
44
10
1994-1995
48
26
1931-1932
48
8
1995-1998
82
26
1932-1935
48
9
1998-2000
82
28
1935-1938
48
8
2000-2004
82
30
1938-1942
48
7
2004-2005
0
30
1942-1946
50
6
2005-2012
82
30
1946-1949
60
6
2012-2013
48
30
1949-1967
70
6
2013-2016
82
30
1967-1968
74
12



1968-1970
76
12



1970-1972
78
14



1972-1974
78
16



1974-1978
80
18




Rising from 3 to 30 teams and 18 to 84 games since 1918, the NHL regular season now sits at 30 teams playing 82 times a piece for a total of 1,230 games.  Aside from three work stoppages - abbreviating, canceling and abbreviating the proceedings respectively (1994-1995, 2004-2005, 2012-2013) - and a fire finishing a team (Montreal Wanderers) part-way through the year (1917-1918), most NHL regular season schedules have been played as planned with few, if any, interruptions.

Amidst endless stories of financially troubled clubs, the league has done well to quell rumors of NHL relocation but has elected to formally accept NHL expansion applications over the next two month igniting hopes from eager owners in Las Vegas, Quebec City and Seattle.  

On the heels of 2013's NHL realignment, expect regular season length to remain at 82 games for the foreseeable future in order to preserve their commitment to extended divisional play, every team visiting every rink each year, and the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar which directly influences player salaries.  In short, fans' preference for fewer regular season games appears unlikely to be realized anytime soon. 

* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days And Games.
* See also History of NHL Expansion.
* See also History of NHL Relocation.
* See also History of NHL Contraction.
* See also History of NHL Team Renaming.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

NHL Minimum Wage & Maximum Wage By Year

In July of 2005, the NHL and NHLPA finalized the 2005 CBA ending a 310 day lockout that resulted in the loss of a season. The core feature of the accord was the introduction a salary cap, setting team spending limits based on league revenue and tying player salaries to such limits.

The maximum player salary was capped at 20% of the team salary cap. Meanwhile, the minimum player salary jumped 257% from $180,000 to $450,000 with fixed bumps in future years.  The chart below shows NHL minimum and maximum player salaries by year since 2005.

Year              Salary Cap     NHL Minimum     NHL Maximum      
2005-2006
$39.0m     
$450,000      
$7.8m     
2006-2007
$44.0m     
$450,000      
$8.8m     
2007-2008
$50.3m     
$475,000      
$10.06m     
2008-2009
$56.7m     
$475,000      
$11.34m     
2009-2010
$56.8m     
$500,000      
$11.36m     
2010-2011
$59.4m     
$500,000      
$11.88m     
2011-2012
$64.3m     
$525,000      
$12.86m     
2012-2013
$70.2m     
$525,000      
$14.04m     
2013-2014
$64.3m     
$550,000      
$12.86m     
2014-2015
$69.0m     
$550,000      
$13.8m     
2015-2016
$71.4m     
$575,000      
$14.3m     

The team salary cap has increased 83% since 2005, providing for maximum player salary to rise by the same margin. Minimum wage, on the other hand, has increased only 28% during that span.  Thus, while maximum salary has been tied to the spectacular increase in team salary cap, minimum salary has not. 

The chart below shows what minimum salary would be as a percentage of team salary cap, as opposed to the negotiated rate schedule.

Year                NHL Minimum    % of Cap     1.15% of Cap      
2005-2006
$450,000     
1.15%      
$450,000     
2006-2007
$450,000     
1.02%      
$506,000     
2007-2008
$475,000     
.944%      
$578,000     
2008-2009
$475,000     
.837%      
$652,000     
2009-2010
$500,000     
.880%      
$653,000     
2010-2011
$500,000     
.841%      
$683,000     
2011-2012
$525,000     
.816%      
$739,000     
2012-2013
$525,000     
.747%      
$807,000     
2013-2014
$550,000     
.816%      
$739,000     
2014-2015
$550,000     
.797%      
$793,000     
2015-2016
$575,000     
.805%      
$821,100     

If minimum wage had been tied to 1.15% of the team salary cap instead of anchoring it to a fixed dollar rate schedule, NHL minimum earners would have received an extra $100,000 in 2007-2008, $200,000 more in 2011-2012, and almost $300,000 more in 2012-2013. In fact, in the ten years since the 2005 wage hike, tying it to such a percentage would have yielded an extra $1.85m for such skaters during that span, equaling an additional $185,000 each year on average.

The NHL's minimum wage is scheduled to increase in the coming years reaching $650,000 in 2017-2018, $700,000 in 2019-2020, and $750,000 in 2021-2022. The maximum player salary shall remain at 20% of team salary cap during this span.  

When the current CBA expires after the 2021-2022 season, perhaps the NHLPA should vie to tie minimum wage to a percentage of the team salary cap (with a floor of a 5% bump on prior year pay) so players at both ends of the hockey spectrum can share in increased NHL revenues. Equity for all skaters, regardless of role and talent.

* See also 2014-2015 NHL Highest Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also 2013-2014 NHL Highest Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also 2012-2013 NHL Highest Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also 2011-2012 NHL Highest Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also 2010-2011 NHL Highest Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also NHL Highest Paid Players By Year.
* See also Rethinking NHL Player Salary Structure.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

History of NHL Expansion

Since the league's beginnings in 1917, the NHL has welcomed 36 teams. Of those, thirteen have relocated to a new city, eleven have changed their team name while remaining in the same city, and six have fallen on financial hard times and folded their operations

The chart below shows the history of NHL expansion by year, team name and the expansion fee levied on the buyer by the league.

YearExpansion TeamCost
1917       Montreal Canadians None
1917 Montreal Wanderers# None
1917 Ottawa Senators^# None
1917 Quebec Bulldogs^*# None
1917 Toronto Arenas* None
1924 Boston Bruins $15k
1924 Montreal Maroons# $15k (includes $11k to Canadiens)
1925 Pittsburgh Pirates^# $12k
1926 Chicago Black Hawks* $12k
1926 Detroit Cougars* $12k
1926 New York Rangers $12k
1967 California Seals*^# $2m
1967 Los Angeles Kings $2m
1967 Minnesota North Stars^ $2m
1967 Philadelphia Flyers $2m
1967 Pittsburgh Penguins $2m
1967 St. Louis Blues $2m
1970 Buffalo Sabres $6m
1970 Vancouver Canucks $6m
1972 Atlanta Flames^ $6m
1972 New York Islanders $11m (includes $5m to Rangers)
1974 Kansas City Scouts^ $6m
1974 Washington Capitals $6m
1979 Edmonton Oilers $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1979 Hartford Whalers^ $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1979 Quebec Nordiques^ $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1979 Winnipeg Jets^ $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1991 San Jose Sharks $45m
1992 Ottawa Senators $45m
1992 Tampa Bay Lightning $45m
1993 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim*   $50m (includes $25m to Kings)
1993 Florida Panthers $50m
1998 Nashville Predators $80m
1999 Atlanta Thrashers^ $80m
2000 Columbus Blue Jackets $80m
2000 Minnesota Wild $80m

* Team was victim of NHL Renaming
^ Team was victim of NHL Relocation
# Team was victim of NHL Contraction

As indicated by the footnotes above, several teams have endured change in the form of renaming, relocation and contraction.  The ordering of the symbols indicates the chronology of these events.  The number of NHL teams and regular season games played by year may be found here.

The first five members of the NHL in 1917 gained admission without having to pay an expansion fee.  Since then, all teams have paid a fee to join the league.  Hovering between $12,000 and $15,000 in the 1920s, expansions fees jumped to $2 million in 1967 and tripled three years later in 1970 to $6 million where they remained (save surcharges to other teams and leagues) through the remainder of the decade.

After a twelve year span of a 21 team NHL, expansion began again in 1991 with fees 7.5 times higher than those paid by teams entering in the 1970s, ultimately ending up over 13.3 times by 2000. Current franchise valuations estimate the value of NHL teams ranging from $130 million (St. Louis Blues) to $1 billion (Toronto Maple Leafs).  

Despite the escalating costs of purchasing a NHL team through expansion, the inflation calculator shows these teams to be more than holding their value in the terms of purchase price. This does not account for the annual operating losses for most NHL teams, which in the case of the Phoenix Coyotes resulted in losses of $54 million in 2009.

Last year the Glendale counsel voting 4-3 to keep the Coyotes for five more years, dashing the hopes of Seattle or Quebec City acquiring the club through relocation. Earlier today, however, Commissioner Bettman confirmed the Board of Governors were accepting expansion proposals beginning July 6, 2015 through August 10, 2015. Seattle, Quebec City and Las Vegas are considered frontrunners for the privilege to pay an estimated $500 million fee to host the NHL's next franchise, more than six times the amount paid by expansion owners 15 years ago.

It appears existing owners will soon ring the expansion fee cash register again and grow this arguably diluted 30 team league as early as 2017.
* See also History of NHL Contraction.
* See also History of NHL Relocation.
* See also History of NHL Team Renaming.

2015 NHL Individual Awards Winners

When it comes to the NHL Awards, a handful are earned on statistical achievement while the rest are won through votes cast by various organizations depending on the award. The chart below shows the award winners for the 2015 NHL season.

NHL Award              Winner 
Conn Smythe Trophy                              Duncan Keith
Art Ross Trophy Jamie Benn
Maurice Richard Trophy Alex Ovechkin
Plus-Minus Award Max Pacioretty/Nikita Kucherov
Hart Trophy Carey Price
Ted Lindsay Award Carey Price
Selke Trophy Patrice Bergeron
Norris Trophy Erik Karlsson
Vezina Trophy Carey Price
Jennings Trophy Carey Price/Corey Crawford
Roger Crozier Award Carey Price
Calder Trophy Aaron Ekbald
Jack Adams Award Bob Hartley
GM of the Year Steve Yzerman
Bill Masterton Trophy                        Devan Dubnyk
Lady Byng Trophy Jiri Hudler
King Clancy Trophy Henrik Zetterberg
Foundation Award Brent Burns
Messier Award Jonathan Toews

2015 NHL First All-Star Team honors went to Price (G), Karlsson (D), Subban (D), Tavares (C), Voracek (RW) and Ovechkin (LW). The 2015 NHL Second All-Star Team roster was Dubnyk (G), Weber (D), Doughty (D), Crosby (C), Tarasenko (RW) and Benn (LW).  

The 2015 NHL All-Rookie Team was comprised of newcomers Jake Allen (G), Aaron Ekblad (D), John Klingberg (D), Mark Stone (F), Johnny Gaudreau (F) and Filip Forsberg (F).

* See also 2014 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2013 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2012 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2011 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2010 NHL Individual Awards Winners.
* See also 2009 NHL Individual Awards Winners.

Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (NYI-FLA)

On June 24th in 2000, New York Islanders GM Mike Milbury traded Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Florida Panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. The 2000 NHL Entry Draft day play saw the Isles select goalie Rick DiPietro 1st overall ahead of future all-stars Dany Heatley (2nd), Marian Gaborik (3rd) and Henrik Lundqvist (205th), to name a few.

In response to the move Milbury surmised, "In the end, we thought the quality that DiPietro will bring is just a notch above Luongo. If we're wrong, we may have made an unbelievable mistake. It'll be bonehead city. It's my job. If we're not a better team immediately, off with my head. I've been here five years, and I'm tired of losing."

Safe to say the Isles would have been better off with future Vezina/Hart/Pearson finalist Luongo, Calder winner and two-time 50 goal scorer Heatley, and Finnish national teamer Jokinen than the trio of DiPietro, Parrish, and Kvasha. Alas, the Milbury legacy lives on and on.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo's Playoff Poop.
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo's Stick Gets Stuck.
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (FLA-VAN).
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2011 NHL Awards.
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2009 NHL Awards.