blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: October 2019

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      

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      

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.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

History of NHL Expansion

Since the league's beginnings in 1917, the NHL has welcomed 38 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
2017 Vegas Golden Knights $500m
2021 Seattle $650m

* 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 $290 million (Arizona Coyotes) to $1.5 billion (New York Rangers).  

On December 4, 2018, the NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved a yet-to-be-named Seattle team as its 32nd franchise. The club, coming at a cost of $650 million (30% increase over the cost of Vegas Golden Knights, which entered the NHL in 2017) shall compete in the Pacific Division commencing in 2021. The NHL expansion draft to fill their roster is scheduled occurred in June 2021.

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.
* See also History of NHL Contraction.
* See also History of NHL Relocation.
* See also History of NHL Team Renaming.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

History Of NHL Team Renaming

Typically reserved for NHL expansion and NHL relocation, seven cities (Toronto, Detroit, New York, Oakland, Chicago, Anaheim, Phoenix) have assigned eleven new names for their NHL team absent a move, since the league's inaugural season in 1917.

The chart below shows each instance of a renaming absent expansion or relocation, sorted by year, old team name and new team name.

Year       Old Team Name New Team Name
1918 Toronto Blueshirts Toronto Arenas
1919 Toronto Arenas Toronto St. Patricks
1927 Toronto St. Patricks Toronto Maple Leafs
1930 Detroit Cougars Detroit Falcons
1932 Detroit Falcons Detroit Red Wings
1941 New York Americans Brooklyn Americans
1967 California Seals Oakland Seals
1970 Oakland Seals California Golden Seals
1986 Chicago Black Hawks Chicago Blackhawks
2006 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim       Anaheim Ducks
2014 Phoenix Coyotes Arizona Coyotes

The most recent team renaming came in June 2014 as part of a last ditch effort to avoid relocation and keep the Coyotes in Phoenix under new ownership after years of financial distress and league ownership.  

Of the eleven newly named teams, five have won the Stanley Cup under their new namesake (Toronto St. Patricks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks) including one in the inaugural year of their name change (Anaheim Ducks 2007), one relocated (California Golden Seals to Cleveland Barons), and two fell prey to NHL contraction (Brooklyn Americans, Cleveland Barons).

Here's hoping the desert dogs enjoy more success on and off the ice with their new name. They're due some good fortune in the Sonoran.