Over the last couple of days news has come out that the NHL owners have proposed an new CBA that would cut players revenue of HRR (hockey related revenue) from 57% to 46%. Furthermore the NHL wants the salary cap ceiling to come down from the $70million mark to just over $52 million.
With the current CBA expiring in September, there is time to get a new CBA in place before a work stoppage becomes a reality and we’re still very early in the process. The NHLPA has yet to counter with a proposal of their own and until we have the starting points of both sides it’s almost impossible to forecast the upcoming months.
There are some sources out there who are trying to forecast the end of the world when they say “there will be no hockey next season” and then there are those who say the $3.3 billion dollar pie is too much money for both the owners and players to flush down the toilet.
Translation: Nobody knows yet.
But if we are headed for a second missed season since 2004, there is no team in the league that it will hurt more than the San Jose Sharks.
Of the dozen or so NHL teams with genuine Stanley Cup aspirations in this upcoming season, the Sharks feature one of the four or five oldest core group of stars.
San Jose, along with Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, are arguably the five organizations whom would be most devastated by a lockout given the veteran status of their core group.
Players like Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen, and Chris Pronger are not going to be around forever.
But let’s look at these respective teams more closely. Boston won the Stanley Cup just over a years ago and has proven young talent at the forward position. Tampa Bay has solid youth in Steven Stamkos, Anders Lindback, Matt Carle and Victor Hedman. Not to mention Lecavalier and St. Louis already have their Cup rings from 2004. Detroit may be older than San Jose with even fewer young assets but they remain the class of the NHL with four cups since 1997, winning as recently as 2008.
The Sharks on the other hand have an aging core with limited youth on the active roster and are thin in prospects. Not to mention the franchise has never won the Stanley Cup despite being considered a contender every season since making their conference final debut in back in 2004.
Boyle may have his cup ring with Tampa Bay but his teammates Thornton and Marleau are still seeking their first. Marleau and Thornton are going to be 33 this season and generally speaking the prime years for hockey players range anywhere from 26-34.
And while we don’t know how long Thornton and Marleau will remain at their current levels, the reality is players only get so many cracks at the cup. A potential lockout would push this veteran Sharks group a full year older before they can make their next run a Lord Stanley and by then, the championship window might be slammed shut.
The Flyers on the other hand ought to be considered a close second in terms of how hurt they would be given another lockout. Like San Jose their core is older, they have yet to win a cup in recent memory and neither have the majority of their star players.
But with Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and Luke Schenn, there is a bit more youth to build on.
If you were to rank these five teams on who can least afford the lockout, it would probably look as follows:
5. Tampa Bay
1. San Jose