blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: September 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

History of NHL Relocation

Since the league's inaugural season in 1917, the NHL has presided over the relocation of thirteen teams, four prior to the cementing of the Original Six in 1942 and the remaining seven clubs commencing in the mid-1970s.

The chart below shows each instance of the relocation of a NHL team, sorted by year, old team name and new team name.

Year       Old Team Name New Team Name
1920 Quebec Bulldogs Hamilton Tigers
1925 Hamilton Tigers New York Americans*#
1930 Pittsburgh Pirates Philadelphia Quakers#
1934 Ottawa Senators St. Louis Eagles#
1976        California Golden Seals        Cleveland Barons#
1976 Kansas City Scouts Colorado Rockies
1980 Atlanta Flames Calgary Flames
1982 Colorado Rockies New Jersey Devils
1993 Minnesota North Stars Dallas Stars
1995 Quebec Nordiques       Colorado Avalanche
1996 Winnipeg Jets Phoenix Coyotes*
1997 Hartford Whalers       Carolina Hurricanes
2011 Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets

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


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

Seven active NHL teams are a product of relocation (Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets).  The current record for the most relocations by a single NHL team is two, held jointly by the Quebec Bulldogs (Hamilton Tigers, New York Americans) and Kansas City Scouts (Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils). Only twice has a relocated club carried their team name to the new town (Flames, Stars).

The most recent NHL team relocation saw Atlanta lose their second team in 31 years (Flames 1980, Thrashers 2011) and Winnipeg land their second club in 32 years (Jets 1979, Jets 2011). The New York Islanders moved a mere 27 miles west from Uniondale to Brooklyn in 2015. The team now splits its home games between Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center until their new rink in Belmont is ready in 2021.

In 2013, the Glendale counsel voted 4-3 to keep the Coyotes for five more years, narrowly averting a relocation of the club to Seattle or Quebec City.  While the NHL prefers expansion over relocation owing to the spectacular fees for owners, the continued financial struggles of several Sun Belt squads may yield more relocation in the years to come.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Today In NHL History - Heatley's Car Crash

On September 29th in 2003, Dany Heatley wrecked his Ferrari 360 Modena into a wall ejecting himself and passenger teammate Dan Snyder in the process.

Heatley escaped with a broken jaw, bruised lung and kidney, minor concussion, and torn ligaments in his right knee, returning to post 25 points in 31 games that season. Snyder suffered a severe skull fracture, never regained consciousness, and died six days later.

With the support of the Atlanta Thrashers community and forgiveness of Snyder's parents, a remorseful Heatley received only three years of probation on a charge of second-degree vehicular homicide.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, September 16, 2019

NHL Highest Paid Players By Year

NHL player salaries have seen fantastic fluctuations over the past two decades owing to aggressive player negotiations, reckless owner spending, and the introduction of the NHL salary cap in 2005.

The chart below shows the highest paid players in the NHL in terms of annual salary since 1989-1990 and the team responsible for payment.

Year       Salary Player
1989-1990   $2,000,000 Lemieux (PIT)
1990-1991 $3,000,000 Gretzky (LAK
1991-1992 $3,000,000 Gretzky (LAK)
1992-1993 $3,500,000 Lindros (PHI)
1993-1994 $3,350,000 Lindros (PHI)
1994-1995 $3,660,000 Gretzky (LAK)
1995-1996 $6,540,000 Gretzky (LAK, STL)
1996-1997 $11,350,000 Lemieux (PIT)
1997-1998 $16,450,000 Sakic (COL)
1998-1999 $14,500,000 Fedorov (DET)
1999-2000 $17,400,000 Jagr (PIT)
2000-2001 $10,000,000 Forsberg (COL), Kariya (ANA)
2001-2002     $11,000,000     Jagr (WAS)
2002-2003 $11,480,000 Jagr (WAS)
2003-2004 $11,000,000 Forsberg (COL), Jagr (WAS)
2005-2006 $8,360,000 Jagr (NYR)
2006-2007 $8,360,000 Jagr (NYR)
2007-2008 $10,000,000 Briere (PHI), Gomez (NYR), Vanek (BUF)
2008-2009 $10,000,000 Heatley (OTT)
2009-2010 $10,000,000 Lecavalier (TBL)
2010-2011 $10,000,000 Lecavalier (TBL), Luongo (VAN)
2011-2012 $12,000,000 B. Richards (NYR)
2012-2013 $14,000,000 Weber (NAS)
2013-2014 $14,000,000 Weber (NAS)
2014-2015 $14,000,000 Weber (NAS)
2015-2016 $14,000,000 Weber (NAS)
2016-2017 $14,000,000 Kopitar (LAK)
2017-2018 $13,800,000 Kane (CHI), Toews (CHI)
2018-2019 $15,900,000 Tavares (TOR)
2019-2020 $16,000,000 Marner (TOR)



Jagr lays claim to the largest salary in a single season banking $17.4m in 2000, with Sakic a close second at $16.45m in 1998. The lowest paid top earner over the past 30 seasons was Lemieux, taking $2m in 1990. 

Six times during this span Jagr led all players in pay (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007) with Gretzky (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996) and Weber tied for second place with four such salary titles (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). Only five times since 1990 has a goaltender (Luongo 2011) or a defenseman (Weber 2013-2016) led the league in pay.

In terms of accomplishments, three times during this span the NHL salary king has captured the Art Ross finishing with the most regular season points (Gretzky 1991, Lemieux 1997, Jagr 2000) yet only once has one hoisted the Stanley Cup (Forsberg 2001) in his highest paid year.

As for MVP honors, hockey writers and GMs have never recognized a top earner for regular season (Hart, NorrisVezina) or playoff (Conn Smythe) performance during this period, though the players twice picked Jagr (2000, 2006) as such (Lindsay) during his six season pay day heyday.

Of course, since the salary cap was introduced in 2005, the key figure in terms of a player's cost to a team is his cap hit figure as opposed to his annual salary. A list of the top player salary and cap hit figures by position for the 2019-20 NHL season can be found here.


* See also NHL Highest Player Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also NHL Minimum Wage & Maximum Wage By Year.
* See also Rethinking NHL Player Salary Structure.