blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: June 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

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     
2016-2017
$73.0m     
$575,000      
$14.6m     
2017-2018
$75.0m     
$650,000      
$15.0m     

The team salary cap has increased 92% since 2005 (an average of 7% per year), providing for maximum player salary to rise by the same margin. Minimum wage, on the other hand, has increased only 44% during that span (an average of 3.4% per year), half of their top earner counterparts.  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     
2016-2017
$575,000     
.787%      
$829,500     
2017-2018
$650,000     
.867%      
$862,500     

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 eleven years since the 2005 wage hike, tying it to such a percentage would have yielded an extra $2.327m for such skaters during that span, equaling an additional $193,000 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 NHL Highest Paid Players By Year.
* See also NHL Highest Player Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also Rethinking NHL Player Salary Structure.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days & Games

The 2017 NHL playoffs began on April 12 and ended on June 11, boasting 87 games in 61 days. During this time, the Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins skated in 25 games, for a total of 107 games (82 + 25) since the season began over eight months ago. 

Pittsburgh's extensive playoff run begs the question, how long does a typical NHL postseason last? The chart below describes each postseason since 1987 (when the NHL expanded each playoff round to seven games) by start date, end date and length (i.e., total days and games).

Year       Start Date / End Date    Days       Games      
1987       
April 8 - May 31     
54      
87     
1988       
April 6 - May 26     
51      
83     
1989       
April 5 - May 25     
51      
82     
1990       
April 5 - May 24     
50      
85     
1991       
April 3 - May 25     
53      
92     
1992       
April 18 - June 1     
45      
86     
1993       
April 18 - June 9     
53      
85     
1994       
April 16 - June 14     
60      
91     
1995
May 6 - June 24     
50      
80     
1996
April 16 - June 10     
56      
86     
1997
April 16 - June 7     
53      
82     
1998
April 22 - June 16     
56      
82     
1999
April 21 - June 19     
60      
86     
2000
April 12 - June 10     
60      
83     
2001     
April 11 - June 9     
60      
86     
2002
April 17 - June 13     
58      
90     
2003
April 9 - June 9     
62      
89     
2004
April 7 - June 7     
62      
90     
2006
April 21 - June 19     
60      
84     
2007
April 11 - June 6     
57      
81     
2008
April 9 - June 4     
57      
85     
2009
April 15 - June 12     
59      
87     
2010
April 14 - June 9     
57      
89     
2011
April 13 - June 15     
64      
89     
2012
April 11 - June 11     
62      
86     
2013
April 30 - June 24     
56      
86     
2014
April 16 - June 13     
59      
93     
2015
April 15 - June 15     
62      
89     
2016
April 13 - June 12     
61      
91     
2017
April 12 - June 11     
61      
87     
Avg
     
57      
86     

Since the NHL expanded all four rounds of the playoffs to a seven game series, the maximum number of playoff games that could possibly be played if all series went to a Game 7 is 105. Alternatively, the least possible number of playoff games if all 15 series resulted in a sweep is 60 games.

In terms of total games played in a postseason since 1987, the fewest is 80 games (1995).  Only four times has a playoff lasted more than 90 games (1991, 1994, 2014, 2016), the longest postseason being 93 games in 2014. The average playoff length during this span is 86 games.

Only once in the past 29 postseasons has a playoff lasted fewer than 50 days (45 days in 1992) and just seven times has it exceeded 60 days (2003, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017), the longest lasting 64 days (2011). The average playoff length during this span sits at 57 days.

With each team playing 82 regular season games for a total of 1,230 games, 2017 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins skated in 107 games (82 + 25) during 244 days dating back to the opener on October 12, 2016, representing 70% of the days in a calendar year and leaving only 127 days off between the Stanley Cup winning game and opening night of the next regular season.

Players on the 14 teams that did not skate in the 2017 postseason will enjoy 185 days off between regular season games, 63 more days off than their Stanley Cup winning counterpart. For those suffering such a playoff drought, here's hoping that rest translates into success.

* See also NHL League Size And Regular Season Length.
* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.

NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts

Last night the Pittsburgh Penguins won consecutive Stanley Cups with a Game 6 win over the Nashville Predators. The NHL's other 29 teams, however, extended their respective win-less droughts by another year.  The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of years each team has gone without winning a Stanley Cup, showing the last year they hoisted the hardware (if ever).

Team       Seasons           Last Cup Win
Toronto Maple Leafs 
49         
St. Louis Blues
49         
Never
Buffalo Sabres
46         
Never
Vancouver Canucks
46         
Never
Washington Capitals
42         
Never
Philadelphia Flyers
41         
Phoenix Coyotes*
37         
Never
New York Islanders
33         
Calgary Flames
27         
Edmonton Oilers
26         
San Jose Sharks
25         
Never
Ottawa Senators
24         
Never
Montreal Canadiens
23         
Florida Panthers
23         
Never
New York Rangers
22         
Nashville Predators
18         
Never
Dallas Stars
17         
Winnipeg Jets**     
17         
Never
Minnesota Wild
16         
Never
Columbus Blue Jackets      
16         
Never
Colorado Avalanche
15         
New Jersey Devils
13         
Tampa Bay Lightning
12        
Carolina Hurricanes
11        
Anaheim Ducks
10        
Detroit Red Wings
9        
Boston Bruins
6        
Los Angeles Kings
3        
Chicago Blackhawks
2        
Pittsburgh Penguins
0        
Avg
22        
    

*   Includes record of Winnipeg Jets prior to relocation to Phoenix
** Includes record of Atlanta Thrashers prior to relocation to Winnipeg

The average drought rests at 22 seasons with longest being 49 seasons (Toronto Maple Leafs, St. Louis Blues), six seasons shy of the all-time win-less streak of 54 seasons (New York Rangers 1940-1994). Not only has Toronto failed to win since the NHL expansion beyond its original six teams, they have not even reached the Final during that span.

More intriguing than the length of each team's drought is the fact that 12 of the 30 current NHL teams (40%) have never won the Stanley Cup. In fact, 4 of the 30 teams (13%) have never skated in a Final in their franchise history (Phoenix Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets).

In ten months the quest for the Stanley Cup continues for 16 of the 31 clubs that qualify for the postseason. Early Vegas odds favor the Penguins to capture their third consecutive Cup (8 to 1), followed by the Lightning, Capitals and Oilers (10 to 1), and the expansion Vegas Golden Knights pulling up the rear (200 to 1).

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts.

2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines

The time-honored tradition of NHL playoff combatants shaking hands upon the conclusion of a series is among the greatest displays of sportsmanship in professional team sports today. Seconds after the horn sounds at the end of a series, players and coaches from both teams convene at center ice to celebrate each other's efforts.

The videos below capture the final moments of play in each series-ending game to date in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs along with the ensuing traditional team handshake line, sorted by round and series end date.

FIRST ROUND

The Ducks eliminated the Flames in Game 4 on April 19, 2017.


The Penguins eliminated the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on April 20, 2017.


The Predators eliminated the Blackhawks in Game 4 on April 20, 2017.


The Blues eliminated the Wild in Game 5 on April 22, 2017.


The Rangers eliminated the Canadiens in Game 6 on April 22, 2017.


The Oilers eliminated the Sharks in Game 6 on April 22, 2017.


The Senators eliminated the Bruins in Game 6 on April 23, 2017.


The Capitals eliminated the Leafs in Game 6 on April 23, 2017.


SECOND ROUND

The Predators eliminated the Blues in Game 6 on May 7, 2017.
The Senators eliminated the Rangers in Game 6 on May 9, 2017.


The Penguins eliminated the Capitals in Game 7 on May 10, 2017.


The Ducks eliminated the Oilers in Game 7 on May 10, 2017.


CONFERENCE FINALS

The Predators eliminated the Ducks in Game 6 on May 22, 2017.


The Penguins eliminated the Senators in Game 7 on May 25, 2017.


STANLEY CUP FINAL

The Penguins eliminated the Predators in Game 6 on June 11, 2017.


In an age of results reigning over respect, it's encouraging to see such sportsmanship in professional sport, albeit with notable exceptions (Milan Lucic 2014), abstention (Martin Brodeur 2008Derek Boogaard 2007, Chris Chelios 2007Darren McCarty 1997, Ed Belfour 1995Billy Smith, Gerry Cheevers) and disdain (Dino Ciccarelli 1996) in recent years.

* See also 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.