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Monday, July 27, 2015

Today In NHL History - Pronger Shanahan Trade

On July 27th in 1995, Hartford Whalers GM Jim Rutherford and St. Louis Blues GM Mike Keenan swapped second overall draft picks in Chris Pronger (1993) and Brendan Shanahan (1987), marking a rare exchange of matched talent.

Pronger's slower than expected development coupled with his rookie season bar room brawling and drunken driving led Hartford to move their baby-faced bruiser for some scoring punch in Shanahan.

Pronger remained in St. Louis for nine seasons, captaining the club for seven. Shanahan, however, left Hartford after one season in a trade sending him and Brian Glynn to the Detroit Red Wings for forward Keith Primeau, defenceman Paul Coffey, and a 1997 first-round draft pick (Nikos Tselios).

After five years working for the NHL as Vice-President of Hockey and Business Development and Chief Disciplinarian, Shanahan was named President of the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 11, 2014.  Shanny was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 11, 2013.

Several blows to the head sidelined Pronger in December 2011. He has not skated since, nor does it appear he will ever return to the game, despite being under contract with the Philadelphia Flyers through 2017. On June 27, 2015, the Flyers traded his contract to the Arizona Coyotes for salary cap purposes. Three days later, Pronger was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Despite still technically an active player, Pronger was eligible for the honor owing to his three season absence at the time of induction.

The pair played a combined 39 NHL seasons resulting in over 2,600 games, 2,000 points, 4,000 penalty minutes, and four Stanley Cup wins. Internationally, they won three Olympic Gold Medals and three World Championships for Canada.  Both are Triple Gold Club members.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Today In NHL History - Claude Lemieux

On July 16th in 1965, Claude Percy Lemieux was born in Buckingham, Quebec. Best known for his postseason success and dirty play Lemieux suited up for six teams (MTL, NJD, COL, PHO, DAL, SJS) terrorizing NHL opponents for 21 seasons.

Taken 26th in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft the feisty winger fetched four Stanley Cup wins (1986, 1995, 1996, 2000) and a Conn Smythe (1995) becoming 1 of 9 to hoist with three different teams and 1 of 11 to win in consecutive seasons with distinct clubs (NJD 1995, COL 1996). Resting 9th overall with 80 playoff goals, Lemieux thrice lit the lamp more times in the postseason than the regular season (1986, 1995, 1997).

Boasting a resume of biting (Jim Peplinski), boarding (Kris Draper), and pregame fighting (PHI v. MTL), Lemieux's vicious acts have earned him 2nd place in ESPN's Most Hated NHL Players of All Time.

In 1997, the dirty deeds of playoffs past caught up with the cheapshot francophone in a now famous brawl between the Red Wings and Avalanche featuring Darren McCarty pummeling his turtled mass.

Lemieux retired on July 8, 2009 after a one-season stint with the Sharks.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Today In NHL History - Clarence Campbell

On July 9th in 1905, Clarence Sutherland Campbell was born in Fleming, Saskatchewan. The Rhodes Scholar lawyer turned NHL referee went on to hold the league's highest post for 31 years (1946-1977) after a sojourn as a lieutenant colonel in WWII and Queen's Counsel prosecuting Nazi crimes against humanity.

Moonlighting as an official in the CAHA while lawyering at an Edmonton firm, Campbell whistled his way to the NHL. He lasted three years, witnessing Howie Morenz's career-ending broken leg and even taking a punch from Bruins' bruiser Dit Clapper, before NHL President Frank Calder stole his stripes on the urging of Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe for an allegedly under-penalized incident that bloodied Red Horner.

Calder kept Campbell in the game, however, hiring him to work in the league office though he left shortly thereafter enlisting in the Canadian Armed Forces. With Calder's passing in 1943 a reluctant Red Dutton presided until Campbell's return upon which the presidency was passed.

Major events that occurred during his tenure as NHL President include:

Campbell's accomplishments earned him a position in the Hockey Hall of Fame along with a conference (Campbell Conference) and trophy (Clarence Campbell Bowl) bearing his namesake. He died in 1984.

That's today in NHL history.

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.