blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: 2019

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Today In NHL History - Ruutu Punks Phaneuf

On November 5th in 2005, Vancouver Canucks resident pest Jarkko Ruutu punked Calgary Flames rookie defenseman Dion Phaneuf, flirting with fisticuffs then falling the 2003 first round draft pick with his stick. Adding injury to insult, Phaneuf was assessed a two minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play. Calgary survived the ensuing 5-on-3 powerplay, four minutes into the final frame, and held on to beat Vancouver that night by a score of 1-0.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Béliveau's Hat Trick

On November 5th in 1955, Jean Béliveau scored three powerplay goals in 44 seconds against Boston Bruins netminder Terry Sawchuck collecting the fastest hat trick in Montreal Canadiens club history.

Trailing 2-0 in the second period, the Montreal unit of Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Jean Béliveau, Maurice Richard, and Bert Olmstead dominated Boston with a two-man advantage as sin-binners Cal Gardner and Hal Laycoe looked on. The hat trick remains the second fastest in NHL history behind Bill Mosienko's 21 second effort in 1952. Le Gros Bill added an even strength score en route to a 4-2 win.

The performance resulted in a rule change, passed on a 5-1 vote prior to the 1956-57 season, allowing players serving minor penalties to return after a single power play goal. Naturally, Montreal opposed the proposal.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Today In NHL History - Plante's Goalie Mask

On November 1st in 1959, Jacques Plante took a wrist shot in the face from Hart winner Andy Bathgate. Seven stitches and 21 minutes later, Plante returned wearing a mask to the chagrin of Canadiens coach Toe Blake, forever changing the face of NHL goaltending.

Plante had been using the homemade mask during practices but no goalie ever wore one in a game.  Despite Blake's protest, Plante refused to return to the ice without additional protection and Blake had no backup.  The Montreal Canadiens beat the New York Rangers by a score of 3–1.

Plante maintained the mask long after his injury healed launching an 18 game unbeaten streak in the process.  Ironically, the streak snapped when Blake requested the seven-time Vezina winner and six-time Stanley Cup champion to remove the mask, resulting in a 3-0 loss to Detroit.

Interestingly, prior to his "Let's Make A Deal" television fame, Monty Hall was a radio analyst for the New York Rangers during the 1959-1960 season and covered the game at issue.  In a recent interview with Marc Maron for the WTF podcast, Monty recalls the injury, ensuing delay and the moment a masked-Plante returned to the resounding disapproval of MSG fans who showered the backstop with boos.

A comprehensive history of this landmark NHL moment has been scribed by Stu Hackel of The New York Times and may be found here.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Today In NHL History - Helm's Halloween Costume

On October 31st in 2010, Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm dressed up as his locker room stallmate and sometimes linemate Todd Bertuzzi, complete with matching fake tattoos courtesy of Jeff Shea at Wholeshot Tattoo and favorite pieces from the veteran's wardrobe.

Triple-taken by the sight of Helm when arriving at the team's Halloween party, Bertuzzi described the costume and ensuing impersonation as "awesome", noting "he's a good kid and he did a really good job".

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Today In NHL History - Gretzky's Jersey Typo

On October 30th in 1997, New York Rangers forward Wayne Gretzky skated in a game against cross-river rival New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum with his name mispelled "Gretkzy" on the back of his jersey.

Far from an isolated incident in the world of sport with typos and misspellings abound, rarely does it involve the sports greatest player of all time skating for one of the league's highest profile teams. Even rapper Kanye West agrees this is the greatest jersey foul of all-time.


The Islanders beat the Rangers that night by a score of 5-3.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Today In NHL History - Richards Shatters Glass

On October 28th in 2010, Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards fired a blistering center ice slapshot over Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and through the glass with three minutes remaining in the final frame.

The Kings topped the Stars that night 5-2 before the then-smallest crowd in Dallas Stars history, announced as 11,306 but closer to 5,000, owing in part to fans staying home to watch their Major League Baseball city sibling Texas Rangers play in Game 2 of the World Series.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Today In NHL History - Jones Boards Bergeron

On October 27th in 2007, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Randy Jones brutally boarded Patrice Bergeron face-first into the glass, leaving the Boston Bruins forward unconscious with three minutes remaining in the first period.
Bergeron exited the ice strapped to a stretcher, having suffered a broken nose and concussion on the play, and missed the remaining 72 games of the season. An apologetic Jones was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct to which the NHL added a two game suspension, forcing the Flyer to forfeit $5,614.98 in salary. Philadelphia beat Boston that night 2-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Today In NHL History - Richards Hits Booth

On October 24th in 2009, Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards blindsided winger David Booth with a vicious hit to the head rendering the Florida Panthers forward bloodied and unconscious.

Booth left on a stretcher and missed the next 45 games owing to a concussion incurred on the play. Richards received a five minute major and ten minute game misconduct but was not subsequently fined or suspended for the act. Philadelphia beat Florida that night 5-1.

Five months later the NHL outlawed such blindside hits in order to reduce head injuries. The language of the law is captured in Rule 48.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Today In NHL History - Milan Lucic Hits Van Ryn

On October 23rd in 2008, Boston Bruins power forward Milan Lucic delivered a crushing check against Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Van Ryn shattering the TD Garden glass early in the second period of play.

Neither player was injured during the incident though a few front row fans were cut by glass. Toronto beat Boston that night by a score of 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Today In NHL History - Gretzky's Wife Knocked Out

On October 22nd in 1997, Wayne Gretzky's wife Janet Jones was bloodied and knocked unconscious when a heavy hit by New York Rangers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson on Chicago Blackhawks forward Sergei Krivokrasov dislodged a large pane of plexi-glass striking the 36 year old actress.
Jones was treated by team doctors before being carried out of Madison Square Garden on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital where she spent the night, diagnosed with a mild concussion and receiving several stitches in her lower lip.

Gretzky finished the final six minutes of the game before joining his wife. The Blackhawks shutout the Rangers that night by a score of 1-0.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Today In NHL History - Red Wings Honor Rucker

On October 21st in 2010, the Detroit Red Wings honored the recent passing of 38 year season ticket holder and super-fan Kenneth Rucker, a retired Chrysler forklift driver who suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 63.

Recognized by the Joe Louis Arena faithful simply as the "Orange Hat Guy", Rucker was often featured on the scoreboard screen during Red Wings home games accompanied by R.E.M. song "Orange Crush".

In honor of Rucker's decades of unwavering support for the club, ownership elected to reupholster his season's seat (section 112, row 7, seat 5) from Red Wing red to Rucker orange for the remainder of the 2011 season.

In addition to setting a new high water mark for fan appreciation, Detroit outclassed the Calgary Flames that night by a score of 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Today In NHL History - Shorthouse Wins 50/50

On October 20th in 2005, Vancouver Canucks voices John Shorthouse and Tom Larscheid won $20,000 in the 50/50 draw benefiting local charities for children during a home game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Having played the popular lottery at every Canucks home game since they began working together in 1998, the giddy pair celebrated their first ever 50/50 win with four minutes remaining in the third period. An audio clip of their unbridled excitement can be heard here.

Despite rumors spread by morning radio mouthpiece Neil MacRae suggesting the pair engaged in fisticuffs over the winnings, Shorthouse dispelled the nonsense explaining "there was enough hugging between two grown men to make even the cast of Will & Grace uncomfortable".

The Canucks beat the Coyotes 3-2 that night in what Shorty described as "the greatest night of hockey ever at GM Place".

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Today In NHL History - Mike Smith's Goal

On October 19th in 2013, Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith gloved a Mikael Samuelsson wrist shot with three seconds to play and promptly fired it 190 feet into the Detroit Red Wings empty net with 1/10th of a second remaining to become the 11th netminder in NHL history to be credited with a goal. 
Coyotes assistant GM Sean Burke was not surprised by the goal having seen Smith's swagger and puck-handling prowess firsthand, "I’ve told people before, he’s going to score a goal at some point – and he’s probably not done. He’ll score again. The way he fired that puck last night, if you gave him 25 pucks, he can do that 25 times. It’s not just a guy who got lucky and it went in. He can do that consistently.".

Afterwards, Smith relived his minor league marker on October 22, 2002 against the ECHL's now defunct Dayton Bombers and reflected on his first NHL goal, "I do shoot the puck quite often in practice but a lot of things have to go right in order for that to happen ... the clock has to slow down at the right time of the game to let it trickle in over the line."

Mike Smith's historic goal capped the Coyotes comeback win over the Red Wings who led 2-0 through 39 minutes before Phoenix scored five unanswered goals to ultimately defeat Detroit by a score of 5-2.

Four years later at the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Smith once again showcased his shooting skills making an impossible shot from 200 feet away, proving the first wasn't a fluke.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Alex Edler Beats Fleury

On October 19th in 2013, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler fired an 83 foot center ice slapshot past Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to open the scoring during a Saturday matinee at the Consol Energy Center.
Fresh off a three game suspension for hitting San Jose Sharks rookie sensation Tomas Hertl, the Swedish blueliner's first period longbomb befuddled a fragile Fleury still reeling from an embarrassing playoff pull.

The Flower ended the afternoon stopping 36 of 39 shots as well as Edler's second round shootout attempt, a wrist shot from 10 feet out. The Penguins went on to beat the Canucks by a score of 4-3, extending Fleury's early season undefeated streak to seven games.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Odjick's Penalty Shot

On October 19th in 1991, Gino Odjick collected the first goal of his sophomore campaign and likely the most famous of his 64 regular season scores on a penalty shot against Conn Smythe winner Mike Vernon.

The opportunity arose when Hall of Fame defenceman Al MacInnis was flagged for fouling the Algonquin Enforcer as he sped by him. The goal was the Canucks' fourth en route to a 5-2 victory over the Flames.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick.
* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Runs Hasek.
* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Fights Blues.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Today In NHL History - Bernier's Own Goal

On October 17th in 2013, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier flubbed a 174 foot clearing attempt that bounced off the end boards before deflecting off his skate and into the net, giving the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 lead with seven minutes to play.
The miscue was awarded to Hurricanes' defenseman Ron Hainsey with an assist to netminder Cam Ward, but credit goes to hard-charging forward Radek Dvorak who won the skating race to eliminate icing on the play.

Despite the boos that rained down on the recently acquired backstop brawler for his blunder, HNIC's Don Cherry insisted the costly goal was a product of the NHL's confusing new hybrid icing rule.

In the post-game interview Bernier conceded "It was just a bad mistake on my part, the puck was probably spinning a lot, and I just misjudged it". When asked if hybrid icing played a role in the mishap, Bernier noted "That's the new game, so we've all got to adjust".

Bernier's own goal stood as the winner as Carolina beat Toronto 3-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Calgary Streaker

On October 17th in 2002, 21 year old Lethbridge College student Timmy Hurlburt flubbed an attempt to streak the Saddledome surface with five minutes remaining in a Boston Bruins/Calgary Flames matchup.


Acting on a $200 dare, Hurlburt successfully scaled the nine foot glass clad solely in red socks and a wrist-watch only to botch the descent. Landing off-balance, Hurlburt's head struck the ice rendering his untanned naked mass unconscious and in plain view for all to see during the ensuing six minute delay.

Hurlburt signaled his return to consciousness with a pair of hand-gestured horns whilst exiting the rink secured to a stretcher to the rousing approval of onlookers and his born-again Christian mother's chagrin. The game ended in a 3-3 overtime draw. Timmy was released from the hospital the next day.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Today In NHL History - Nugent-Hopkins Hat Trick

On October 15, 2011, Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was credited with his first NHL hat trick despite video evidence to the contrary, showing the third goal belonging to linemate Taylor Hall.


Too good a story to pass up for the top pick of the 2011 Draft in just his third NHL game, the hometown scoring decision stood. In the end, the oldest player on the ice spoiled it for the youngest with veteran Sami Salo netting the winner and completing his own Nugent-Hopkins hat trick (two goals and an assist), giving Vancouver a 4-3 win over Edmonton.

With the 7th overall pick of the 1995 Draft forward Shane Doan still seeking his first NHL hat trick despite skating in 1,162 games to date and scoring two goals 38 times, it appears the Coyotes captain will have to actually score three times in a single game to earn the honor unlike the 18 year old Nugent-Hopkins who had it gifted to him in his first week.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Today In NHL History - Dan Hamhuis' Own Goal

On October 12th in 2013, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis misplayed a breakout from behind his net, deflecting the puck off both of Roberto Luongo's skates and into the net for an own goal, giving the Montreal Canadiens a 2-1 lead with four minutes to play in the middle frame.
The bizarre miscue, coined by NHL goalie turned Hockey Night In Canada commentator Kelly Hrudey as "one of the strangest goals you'll ever see in hockey", was credited as a shorthanded goal for Canadiens' forward Lars Eller, the Dane's fifth marker in as many games.

Asked about the gaffe in the post-game interview, Luongo noted "I didn't see it, I don't know what happened".  When asked if he had ever given up a more bizarre winning goal, Luongo made clear "I didn't give that up".
The Canadiens scored two more goals to beat the Canucks 4-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Today In NHL History - First Hockey Telecast

On October 11th in 1952, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation presented the first ever publicly televised hockey game. The match, shown on the Saturday evening Hockey Night In Canada series, featured the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings from the Montreal Forum.
This inaugural HNIC telecast was carried on the CBC's French channel (SRC) with play-by-play offerings from announcer Rene Lecavalier. Montreal doubled Detroit that night 2-1. The first telecast from Toronto followed three weeks later.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Gordie Howe Hat Trick

On October 11th in 1953, Gordie Howe recorded his first ever Gordie Howe Hat Trick accumulating a goal, assist, and a fight in the same game. Despite defining the deed, the four-time Cup champ ('50, '52, '54, '55) and six-time Hart ('52, '53, '57, '58, '60, '63) and Art Ross ('51-'54, '57, '63) recipient turned only two such tricks and wasn't the first to do it.

Mr. Hockey's inaugural occurred when he scored, assisted on a Red Kelly goal, and fought Fernie Flaman in a 4-0 Detroit Red Wings win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. His other came in the same season when the teams met again on March 21, 1954, scoring, assisting on a pair of Ted Lindsay tallies, and fisticuffing with Ted Kennedy in a 6-1 victory.

The first ever Gordie Howe Hat Trick is credited to Harry Cameron of the Toronto Arenas who collected the components some 36 years earlier on December 26, 1917 in a 7-5 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Brendan Shanahan is widely believed to lead the category with 17 though uncertainty exists owing to incomplete statistics on the accomplishment.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Today In NHL History - Boulerice Sticks Kesler

On October 10th in 2007, Jesse Boulerice added another chapter to his checkered past and the violent history of the Philadelphia Flyers when he blindsided Ryan Kesler with a vicious cross-check, breaking his stick across the forward's face.

Boulerice was assessed a 10 minute match penalty on the play to which the NHL tacked on a 25 game suspension, then tied for the longest suspension in league history, costing him $63,502.75 in pay. Acknowledging that he crossed the line, Boulerice apologized to Kesler after the Flyers 8-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

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     
2018-2019
$79.5m     
$650,000      
$15.9m     
2019-2020
$81.5m     
$700,000      
$16.3m     

The team salary cap has increased 104% 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 83% during that span (an average of 5.5% per year), 21% shy 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     
2018-2019
$650,000     
.818%      
$914,250     
2019-2020
$700,000     
.859%      
$937,250     

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 fourteen years since the 2005 wage hike, tying it to such a percentage would have yielded an extra $2.6m for such skaters during that span, equaling an additional $187,000 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.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Today In NHL History - Quick's Own Goal

On October 7th in 2013, Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick misplayed a 163 foot shorthanded clearing attempt, dropping his stick and inadvertently directing the puck into the net with his blocker for an own goal, giving the New York Rangers a 3-1 lead four minutes into the final frame.

The miscue was credited to Rangers' defenseman Ryan McDonagh, his first point of the season and 13th career NHL goal.

With five minutes remaining, the Los Angeles Kings' fair-weather faithful jeered Quick as he successfully stopped an iced puck.  Unamused by the gesture, the Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup champion flipped-off the ungrateful onlookers waiving his glove in response.

In the post-game interview Quick conceded "everybody gives up bad goals, it's part of the game".  When pressed for more detail on the miscue Quick quipped, "you guys are writing a story on that one goal?" which the reporter denied while hockey bloggers everywhere nodded.

When asked for comment about any post-gaffe discussions with his goalie, Coach Darryl Sutter responded "He dropped his stick - what do you want to talk about - tell him not to drop his stick?".  Sutter buttoned his remarks, joking "It's his job to stop the puck, so obviously he didn't think he needed a stick".  The Rangers beat the Kings 3-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, October 4, 2019

NHL Highest Player Salary & Cap Hit By Position

Since the NHL salary cap was introduced in 2005, clubs have kept a close eye on two key player payroll markers - cap hit and salary. Cap hit corresponds to the dollar amount applied towards team salary cap whereas salary connotes a player's actual take home pay.

The chart below presents 2019-2020 NHL player cap hit and salary figures for the top ten players in each position per Cap Friendly.

      2019-2020 NHL Player Cap Hit By Position

Forward  $m      Defense     $m      Goalie       $m
McDavid  12.5         Karlsson 11.5  Price 10.5
Panarin  11.6         Doughty 11  Bobrovsky 10
Matthews  11.6         Subban Lundqvist       8.5
Tavares  11        Ekman-Larsson 8.2  Fleury         7
Marner  10.8        Burns Rask         7
Toews  10.5         Carlson 8 Gibson         6.4
Kane  10.5         Trouba Hellebuyck  6.1
Kopitar  10         Hedman 7.8  Holtby      6.1
Eichel  10         Weber 7.8 Crawford         6
Seguin  9.8         Byfuglien 7.6  Schneider        6
        

       

      2019-2020 NHL Player Salary By Position

Forward  $m      Defense     $m        Goalie  $m
Marner  16        Karlsson 14.5  Price 15
Tavares  15.9        Doughty 12  Bobrovsky 11.5
Matthews  15.9         Carlson 12 Fleury     8.5
McDavid  15         Trouba 12  Quick      7
Panarin  14         Burns 10  Lundqvist      7
Seguin  13.5       Subban 10 Jones       6.7
Benn  13         Suter Rask  6.5
Aho  12         Ekblad Gibson    6.4
Kucherov  12        Schmidt 8.8 Rinne      6
Rantanen 12        McDonagh 8.4 Varlamov 6
Stone 12     

Hellebuyck 6

       

Schneider      6


The 2005 CBA permitted a player's cap hit and salary figure to diverge dramatically in the same season and over the course of a multi-year contract. Thus, despite Marner ($16m) being paid the most this season, it's actually McDavid ($12.5m), who costs the most consuming more of his team's $81.5m cap limit than any other player.  The 2013 CBA limits this cap-circumvention loophole providing that no multi-year contract can fluctuate more than 35% year-to-year on salary amounts and 50% from the lowest salary year to the highest salary year.  

Another interesting facet of modern player contracts are signing bonus payments (as opposed to performance bonus payments). The genius of structuring player compensation as a bonus is that the earnings are not subject to escrow withholdings and are payable during lockouts.  

When a player retires their cap hit does not typically count against the team's cap limit.  Two notable exceptions to this rule include: (1) all remaining years of any contract signed by players 35 years of age or older continue to count against a team's cap after retirement; and (2) if a player retires and the salary on any remaining years is less than the cap hit of those remaining years, the difference is recouped and charged to the team's cap for those remaining years. A list of all current 35+ contracts may be found here.

As for injuries, teams must still pay a player's salary while injured but the cap hit does not count against the club (LTIR & SOIR).  

A listing of the highest paid players in the NHL since 1989-1990, along with the teams responsible for cutting their checks, can be found here.


* See also NHL Highest Paid Players By Year.
* See also Rethinking NHL Player Salary Structure.
* See also NHL Minimum Wage & Maximum Wage By Year.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

History of NHL Contraction

Since the league's inception in 1917, NHL expansion has welcomed 36 clubs to its hockey family. Of those teams, thirteen have relocated to a new city, eleven have changed their team name while remaining in the same city, and six have folded owing to financial failure. 

The chart below shows NHL contraction by year and team name.

Year       Folded Team Name
1918 Montreal Wanderers
1935 St. Louis Eagles^
1936 Philadelphia Quakers^
1946 Brooklyn Americans^^*
1947 Montreal Maroons
1978 Cleveland Barons**^

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

The footnotes above show, chronologically, the renaming and/or relocation of contracted teams prior to their demise.  The number of NHL teams and regular season games played by year may be found here.


The first team to fold was the Montreal Wanderers.  Formed in 1903 prior to joining the NHL in 1917, the Wanderers skated in only four NHL games (winning only one) before their home rink Montreal Arena burned down on January 2, 1918 ending their existence.

17 years passed before another club contracted. Born as the Ottawa Senators in 1883 and joining the NHL in 1917, the cash-strapped Senators relocated to St. Louis in 1934 as the St. Louis Eagles, folding after one season owing to poor divisional alignment and travel costs.


The next year the Philadelphia Quakers collapsed. Relocating after five seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Quakers set a record for the NHL's worst win percentage suspending operations after one season before contracting five years later in 1936.


Skating one season in 1919 as the Quebec Bulldogs, the club relocated as the Hamilton Tigers playing five years before becoming the New York Americans in 1925, which was renamed the Brooklyn Americans in their final season in 1942 before folding in 1946.

Erected in 1924 to satisfy Montreal's anglophone hockey fans after losing the Wanderers in 1918, the Montreal Maroons fell victim to the Great Depression, playing their final game in 1938 and ultimately contracted in 1947 after several unsuccessful attempts to move.

Starting out as the California Seals in 1967, the club was renamed the Oakland Seals then the California Golden Seals before relocating as the Cleveland Barons, the franchise skated for two seasons in Cleveland before merging into the Minnesota North Stars in 1978.

Today's NHL frowns upon contracting and relocating teams. Despite financial difficulties plaguing several franchises over the years, the league elects to keep clubs in their current location whenever possible.

The NHL's recent actions in Phoenix supports this narrative, resuscitating the Coyotes for four years amidst enormous losses before finding new ownership which was subsequently approved by the Glendale counsel, averting almost certain relocation to Seattle or Quebec.

Since the NHL expanded beyond its Original Six 1967, only nine teams have relocated and just one has contracted (Cleveland Barons). 
* See also History of NHL Expansion.