Category Archives: ECONOMICS – NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB


by Ron Spence

Alexander Ovechkin is earning $9,000,000 this season.

This is in contrast to a number of NHLers who are earning the league’s minimum salary – $500,000.

All of the 715 players listed by can afford a cell phone.

And yet, the NHLPA has difficulty electronically assembling their membership to vote – or discuss problems.

This is just one of the numerous difficulties that the players currently face.

The following is my summary included in The Fischler Report:


A thorough review – plus a new constitution and infrastructure – should assure the players that their organization represents them in a competent manner.


by Ron Spence

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then NHL Home Pages are the windows to the teams.

We can gain insights into many teams’ attitudes – and wallet thicknesses – by viewing their Home Pages.

The nucks’ Home Page uses the NHL’s generic format: game info, profiles, articles, and ads.

The look that’s aimed for is traditional: “We’ve been around for a long time.”

“And, there’s no need to advertise tickets because we’re sold out – recession/depression or no recession….”


The Nashville Predators also use the NHL’s generic format for their Home Page – and the new catchy phrase: WELCOME TO SMASHVILLE.

Not only is the team’s name agressive – PREDATORS – but so’s their new moniker.

They need to sell tickets, but don’t want to seem desperate. They are selling Fantasy Hockey ’09 plus NHL 2K10.

They have a beautiful fringe that’s inconsistent with their team’s name and new moniker.


Now, Detroit’s so desperate to sell tickets that they advertised their home playoff games – against the Blue Jackets – with Columbus fan groups.

That was last spring during the post-season, and now they have to sell tickets so that they can afford to re-sign Nick Lidstrom.

Their tact this year is to go after the families: hard hat Detroit with an Octopus on the top. They are also giving away toys for the kids at many games – and membership cards, pizza and pop….


Is that the Coyote’s logo or the wolf at their door?

Phoenix is marketing their tickets for really cheap – and throwing in t-shirts.

They aren’t trying to sell season’s tickets, because no one knows if the team will be in town next week.


The Blue Jackets’ marketing people know what they’re doing.

It’s tough times in Columbus and they are using the red, white and blue of the team’s logo, and hosting a flag carrying march on opening night.

Patriotism always sells.

Fans get to see Steve Mason’s Calder Trophy – on display – receive magnetic schedules, plus a Steve Mason poster.

Their Home Page is very well-designed by someone who understands both art and hockey.


The Florida Panther’s marketing people are brilliant – but confused.

They think that they’re designing a movie poster for MIAMI VICE 2.

“Purchase Tickets” is barely visible and they have a game countdown over a soft picture.

This Home Page is about as unhockey as you can get.


Now, this is a Home Page.

The designers know their market. They’re selling tickets.

Their man on the cover is a traditional Bruin: a fighting grinder.

He’s wearing an old style jersey and the Home page looks like an old Bruins poster – traditional looking like the Canucks, but better.


The Boston Home Page makes me want to buy tickets – if I know what’s good for me.


by Ron Spence

Many ‘nucks fans are becoming expert capologists. 

They know how much each player is earning, his cap hit, and how much space Vancouver has – or doesn’t have – before they are over the Cap.

Vancouver’s highest cap hit is Roberto at $6,750,000.

The Islanders’ top cap hit is Rick DiPietro at $4,500,000, their second is young Dman Mark Steit – at $4,100,000, and their third is first overall pick – John Tavares – who makes the rookie max of $900,000, plus $2,850,000 in bonuses – $3,750,000.

So, who’s their 4th highest pick?

It’s Alexei Yashin – and he hasn’t even played for the Islanders for two seasons.

Yashin had signed a 10 year contract and was demoted to the 4th line during the 2006-07 playoffs.

The Islanders decided to buy out the remainder of Yashin’s contract for $17.63 million, or two-thirds of the salary owed.




courtesy of

Yashin is being paid out over eight years – at $2.2 million per season – but the cap hit is $3,235,000 for eight years – until 2015.

Besides paying out the money, and the terrible cap hit, what’s frustrating for the Islanders is that Yashin’s now making the big bucks in the KHL.



courtesy of

Of the NHL’s 30 teams, 17 are losing cap space for 27 players. 

Carolina and Boston have three buyouts – each – and you can see why the Bruins couldn’t sign Phil Kessel. 




Eight players are being paid by both their buyout and current teams. 

Three players – who are being paid from buyouts – are trying out for the Canucks.

Mark Parrish is being paid out by Minnesota: $727,778 this season, and $927,778 each of the next four. Like Yashin, Parrish had been benched and banished for ineffective play.

Dave Scatchard is also being paid out. But, his was the result of an injury.

During the 2006-07 season, Pittsburgh’s Sergei Gonchar ran the Phoenix Coyote face-first into the boards, giving him a concussion and knocking out his teeth. Post-concussion symptoms persisted, but then Scatchard claimed that he was over his concussion, and just having trouble with the alignment of his new teeth. 




GM Don Maloney decided, however, to buy out the remaining two years and $4.2 million left on the four-year, $8.4 million deal. Scatchard had signed the agreement with the Bruins in 2005.

Toronto bought out Andrew Raycroft during the summer of 2008. He was scheduled to be paid $2.2 million last season, but the Leafs decided that they could acquire a more effective player with what they didn’t have to pay Raycroft. 




Two well known former Canucks have also been bought out.

Todd Bertuzzi had signed a two-year deal – with the Anaheim Ducks – and was scheduled to be paid $4 million for the second 2008-09 season. He received part of his buyout last season, while playing in Calgary, and will be receiving the remainder while he is playing with Detroit this year. 






As Boston had no cap room to sign Phil Kessel, Anaheim wouldn’t have been able to sign Corey Perry had they kept Bertuzzi.

“Todd Bertuzzi is a quality person who we believe can still play at the NHL level,” former Ducks GM Brian Burke said. “Unfortunately, we are handcuffed by our salary cap situation. We thank him for his efforts last year and wish him the best of luck in the future.”





Former ‘nucks goalie Dan Cloutier was paid $1,033,000 last season and will make the same amount this campaign – whether he makes the Red Wings or not. 

His situation was a combination of injury and ineffective play.

Vancouver isn’t one of the 17 teams losing money due to buyouts.

The only long-term names that Mike Gillis has on the books are: Roberto, the twins, Alex Burrow, and Alex Edler. And no one believes that any of these four will be bought out.


One of the creditors in the Coyotes bankruptcy is Dave Scatchard who is owed about $1.4 million of his buyout.

Picture 14


Picture 10



by Ron Spence

We’re told that Roberto should have his contract extended over the next couple of weeks.

How much should/will the Canucks pay Luongo?

Do they undermine the bank and pay him as much as Henrik Lundqvist? The Rangers’ netminder has been making an average of $6,875,000 per season?

Do they try and pay him what other goalies – who believe in their team first – are being paid? 

New Jersey’s Marty Brodeur is averaging only $5,200,000 per season, while Stanley Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury signed for an average of $5,000,000 per campaign.

Or is Roberto to be paid what a comparable netminder is making – Tomas Vokoun, who’s banking $5,700,000 per season?


Do the Canucks pay him as much as the Sedins are receiving – $6,100,000 per season? 


save per

Luongo isn’t the NHL’s best goalie, but his numbers are up there.

He leads the NHL’s current goalies with a .9191 career save percentage average, and is second only to Dominik Hasek – .9223 – in all time save percentage.

His career goals against average isn’t that great – 2.569 – but he’s averaged 2.34 goals per game in his three years with the ‘nucks.



courtesy of

This past season wasn’t Roberto’s best. He was 5th in both goals against, and save percentage. 


this year

courtesy of

When most critics evaluate Luongo, however, it’s the post-season that they look at – not his regular seasons’ stats.

And, Roberto has only appeared in a total of 4 playoff series in two of his nine seasons – only 22 games.

Unfortunately, his lack of post-season experience has translated into inconsistent play.


So, how much does Roberto want?

It really comes down to how he sees himself, and his career. 

Does he want to gobble up a large chunk of Vancouver’s cash and see the talent level fall off after Henrik, Daniel and a few other teammates are paid?

Or does he want to win a Cup – or two?

My belief?

He’ll sign for a little more than the twins over a comparable period of time – 5 years. This would be $1,400,000 – or so – less than he’s scheduled to make this season.

And Gillis will talk Roberto into taking less over the next couple of seasons – when the cap should go down some 10 to 15% – and top things up during the last three years of his contract.


by Ron Spence

“Assistant general manager Jim Nill said the Wings would try to sit down with Lidstrom during training camp to begin talking about a new contract,” wrote the Free Press.

I’d like to know what they’ll talk about.

This year’s salary cap is $56.8 million, and if it falls 15% – as they claim it might do – the 2010-11 cap will be $48.28 million.

If you look at the spreadsheet below: without Nichlas Lidstrom re-signed, Detroit will be paying $44,425 for just 13 players in 2010-11.


And with Lidstrom making $7 million, Detroit would be paying $51,425 – for 14 players.

Thus, the Red Wings would be over the cap by $3 million plus, and still need  to sign 11 players – for at least the $500,000 minimum salary.

The Detroit Red Wings can’t afford to re-sign Nicklas Lidstrom.

They would have two $6 million, and two $7 million players on their roster.  This would be $27.45 – or 57 % of their 2010-11 salary budget.

Ken Holland will have to trade Brian Rafalski or Johan Franzen to make room for the Norris winner.


Please note that the last spreadsheet column is Detroit’s payroll with Nichlas Lidstrom, and the 2nd to last is without him on their roster.

2008-09: MATS VS. SHANNY

by Ron Spence

I have mixed feelings about Mats returning to the ‘nucks.

Last season, I was a combination of annoyed, frustrated, hopeful, and in the end – sad.

Because of these mixed feelings, I thought I would do an apple to apple comparison with another veteran – New Jersey’s Brendan Shanahan.

To try and find some context for Mats Sundin’s season in Vancouver.

Shanny is 40 to Sundin’s 37, and also came into 2008-09 late in the season. Sundin dressed for 41 contests, and Shanahan for 7 games less.

Mats Sundin was a first and second line player – who took shifts on the power play. Shanahan played on New Jersey’s checking, and energy lines – a lot on the pk, and very little on the power play.

The Devils’ top six scorers hogged the first two lines.


“Sutter has preferred recently a more contemporary philosophy of using two offensive lines, and then a third and fourth line,” wrote Colin Stephenson of The Star Ledger.

On the checking line, Shanahan played with Jay Pandolfo and John Madden. His time on the energy line was alongside Bobby Holik and Mike Rupp.

Sundin’s and Shanahan’s different roles impacted their stats.

Mats Sundin



Brendan Shanahan



Mats scored 9 goals versus 6 for Shanahan. Sundin had 5 power play goals to Shanahan’s 2. Both had 4 even strength goals.

Sundin had twice as many assists – 19 versus 8 for Shanahan, and Mats was on the ice for twice as many goals created.

The Canucks’ veteran had 44 total goals for – while he was on the ice – and the Devils’ oldest player had 16 goals for.

Sundin was on for 23 power play goals, and Shanahan for three – two of which he scored himself.

Also, Shanahan had 4 power play goals scored against him, versus only one for Sundin, as Brendan played a lot of pk, and Sundin almost none.


Mats Sundin


Brendan Shanahan


courtesy of

Those stats – noted above – are primarily the results of their different roles on the ‘nucks and Devils.

But, there are other stats that are in Shanahan’s favour – regardless of his role.

Brendan played against his rivals’ top lines and was on for only 19 goals against, versus 27 for Sundin.

Also, while playing against top players – with linemates who seldom scored – Shanahan had a -.06 plus minus, versus Sundin’s -.12.

Mats Sundin did play well during the playoffs, however. He had 3 goals and 5 assists in 8 games. Shanahan – in his limited role – had 3 points in 7 games during the post-season.

I believe that Brendan Shanahan could have played on Vancouver’s top two lines, and would have outscored Sundin.

I also believe that Mats Sundin wouldn’t have cracked the Devils’ top two lines.

Also, Mats couldn’t play another role that Brendan did in New Jersey:

Picture 20

“After being cross-checked by Eric Boulton…Shanahan jumped in ahead of teammate Mike Rupp to fight the Thrashers’ enforcer.

“I think their guy was just trying to get their team going,” Shanahan said. “He’d given me a little cross-check from behind. Not much.

“When I realized Ruppy was going to fight him, I wanted to jump in and not let him fight my battle.”

Rupp already had his gloves off, but stayed out of the altercation.

“I just wanted to get off the ice so I didn’t get an extra two minutes,” Rupp said. “I’m not surprised (Shanahan) did it. We know he can handle himself.”

Shanahan landed several hard punches, but wound up having his nose bloodied.

“We hit each other with a couple,” Shanahan said. “It felt good. More the part of me hitting him than him hitting me.

“It’s (fighting) not something you get to do when you don’t play in the NHL without staying out of jail. Usually that’s frowned upon in society. I was starting to wonder if I’d ever get to do that again. It’s always fun to go against a tough guy.”

Picture 21courtesy of

But, the bottom line – of an apple to apple comparison-  between the two players, was that Shanahan played for less than 10% of what Sundin commanded.

He was good value, whereas Sundin wasn’t – in my opinion.


Hockey has a new world order – it involves salary maximums merged with talent.

Some GMs – like Bob Gainey – haven’t really figured it out yet.

Others such as Ken Holland, Mike Gillis and Doug Wilson have.

The Detroit GM articulates the new world order below:


“People want to know, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?’” said Ken Holland, in an interview. “Well, we’re just trying to keep our own players. Zetterberg went from a $2.6-million cap hit to a $6.1-million number and Franzen went from $900,000 to $4-million.

“But we believe they’re core players, star players, players we want to build around, so we spent our money on our own players. If you’re a cap team, it’s a race to $40-million. You need to be between $40- and $45-million for eight to 12 players. Then you fill it out the best you can.”

“The days that you go into free agency every year are over,” said Holland. “We were a big-market team, a big-revenue team and coming out of the work stoppage we signed a lot of guys who were looking for work – Chris Osgood and Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson and Andres Lilja. A year after, we brought in Dominik Hasek, a year after that, Dallas Drake.

“You were just trying to find guys who fit in. For us, this year, those spots are being filled by kids. I don’t think we’re going to score as much. Obviously, we’ve lost 60 goals out of Hossa and Samuelsson. With (Ville) Leino on the team, we’re hoping to get a few of those back and maybe Cleary and (Valterri) Filppula will chip in a few more. We’ve got to be better defensively.

“I don’t think it’s goals-scored that’s so important, it’s the differential between goals for and against. We scored 50 more goals for than against. We’re not going to be there again; but you need to be 30 plus – more goals than goals against – to be a playoff team.”

“It’s becoming more and more obvious all the time, the importance of drafting and developing and moving kids on to your team – because they play cheap,” said Holland. “If you want to have a team with high-end, high-salaried players, they’ve got to be surrounded by players making less than $1-million. It’s simple math.

“We know in the summer of 2010, if we keep our team together, we’ve got $12-million coming off the cap. Every summer, you get to free agency and you assess your commitments and you assess your space.

“Some years, you’re in a position, where you can be active in the market. Some years, you sit on the sidelines and it is somebody else’s turn.”


The above is from an Eric Duhatschek article in the Globe and Mail, which quotes from a Ken Holland interview.




“The era of free agency, which symbolically began with Curt Flood‘s legal battle against the reserve clause and literally started with Messersmith/McNally ruling, has seen it all — monumental successes (Dave Winfield, Yankees) and failures (Mike Hampton, Rockies) alike.”



Sporting News TODAY published an excellent article on NHL arbitration.

Larry Bertuzzi – who represents NHL management – discussed his strategies before, and during arbitration.

It would be interesting to know which issues and facts will be discussed during Kyle Wellwood’s arbitration hearing.

If Wellwood is awarded a high salary, Mike Gillis might just let him go. 


What’s it like playing in the uncertain hockey environment of Phoenix?


Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic talked to Scottie Upshall:

“It’s like hearing yourself in trade rumors — it’s almost like your whole team is going to get traded,” Upshall said.

“For us, we love where we are … We want to make it work.”

Still, the bottom line is that the business of sport is also the business of making money. That link in Phoenix these days is less than tenuous, and players are fully aware of that.

 ” … It’s really out of our control, and if somwhere else can support a hockey team, then you want to see that work, as well,” he said. “(We can) just go out and put a good product out there, play hard, win games, make the playoffs. That’s all a player can control.”