Very little of what I'm writing here is news to anyone on this site, but I've gotten so sick and tired of reading uninformed opinions. More than that, I'm sick and tired of correcting these uninformed opinions. So for my first Fanpost, I decided I wanted to create a catch all post that I (and others) can point to that corrects a lot of those uninformed opinions and misconceptions.
If there's anything I've missed, please add it in the comments.
Myth: "I don't understand why the hawks had to dismantle the team, I get that there's a salary cap but..."
Reality: There is no "but." You either "get" that or you don't. The NHL has a hard salary cap, you cannot exceed it.
The NHL salary cap for the 2010-2011 season is 59.4 million dollars.
Last year, the Hawks were very close to the salary cap before they paid out some big performance bonuses to some of their players, mainly Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. These bonuses were written into their contracts. Once the players hit the statistical qualifiers (like Toews winning the Conn Smythe award) they were automatically paid out.
The Hawks bonuses put them over the cap to the tune of $4.157 million, because those bonuses put the Hawks over the cap for last season, the overage rolled over to this year's cap, so even though the NHL has a 59.4 million dollar cap, from the very beginning the Hawks have been working with 55.24 million. Were it not for the bonuses, you can bet that Niemi would still be a Blackhawk, and it's likely that either Buff or Versteeg would still be as well. It sucks, but thems the breaks, and you can't go back and rewrite the contracts, or give the Conn Smythe to someone else.
Myth: "But.. but... but!"
Reality: Ok, let's look closer
An NHL roster consists of 22 or 23 players. 20 dress every game, 12 forwards, 6 defensemen, and 2 goalies. You can keep three other players so that you can avoid shuffling your minor league rosters in case of an injury. To help the hawks as much as possible, we're going to operate with a 22 man roster. For simplicity we're going to assume one is a forward, and one is a defensman.
The combined salary of 8 hawks, (Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, Bolland, Keith, Campbell, and Seabrook) is 41.63 million dollars.
Kopecky makes 1.2 million, Troy Brouwer makes 1.025
That left the Hawks with 11.387 million dollars to fill 6 forward slots, 4 defense slots, 2 goalies.
Niklas Hjalmarsson got 3.500 million
Jack Skille got 0.600 million
Brian Bickell got 0.542 million
John Scott got 0.513 million (we're going to count Scott as a defenseman for simplicity sake)
That left the hawks with 6.232 million for eight players: 4 forwards, 2 defensemen, and 2 goalies
Let's look at the guys the Hawks had to trade
Kris Versteeg 3.084 million
Dustin Byfuglein 3.000 million
Brent Sopel 2.334 million
Ben Eager 0.965 million
Colin Frasier 0.825 million
Had the Hawks kept those players, that'd be another 10.230 million dollars.That puts the Hawks 3.998 million dollars OVER the salary cap.
You can't just slash $3.998 million either. Every guy you take off the roster has to be replaced. Eager and Frasier make $1.790 million combined, but trading both only opens up a maximum of $0.790 million because they have to be replaced by two guys making at least $0.500 million each.
Trading away the 5 guys the Hawks dealt left the team with $6.232 million for 8 guys. Four forwards, Two Defensemen, and Two goalies.
Let's whittle it down from there
Corey Crawford is your backup goalie at $0.800 million
Four forwards/Two Defensemen/One Goalie, $5.432 million
Jordan Hendry will be one of your other defensemen, let's say he only receives a $25,000 raise, that puts him at $0.675 million
Victor Stalberg will probably get one of the forward spots at $0.850 million
3/1/1 $3.907 million
Jake Dowell will make the team at $0.525 million
2/1/1 $3.382 million
Now you've got to find a way to fit 4 guys on the team for $0.845 each, and you still don't have a starting goalie.That's where the Hawks were before they let Niemi walk this morning.
Marty Turco $1.300 million
2/1/0 $2.082 million
The difference between Niemi's contract and Turco's contract was $1.450 million. Find a way to fit that $1.450 million under the cap and still sign 22 guys. Here's a hint, you can't. This isn't a dare, it's math. You literally cannot pay 3 guys 500K AND fit the difference between Niemi and Turco under the cap.
Nobody says trading players away doesn't suck, but something had to happen. The Sharks likely kicked the Hawks in the nuts when they offered Hjalmarson 3.5 million a year. It forced the Hawks to make a decision, and they kept the better player. Furthermore, when (theoretically) forced to choose between trading Sharp or Bolland in order to keep Niemi, they kept the better players.
Myth: "Brian Campbell's contract screws the Hawks, Campbell sucks, he's soooo overpaid!"
Reality: Puck moving defensemen are expensive, and Campbell is one of the best in the league. His absence in March and April was very noticeable. Were he to become a free agent today, he'd be making no less than 5 million dollars, and probably closer to 5.5 While I will admit that 1.5 million dollar difference would be awfully nice to have right now, but there's no telling just how much money the Hawks needed to pay Campbell to pry him away from the Sharks.
It may very well be that the Hawks weren't going to get him for a penny less than the 7.2 million they paid him. Remember, When the Hawks signed Campbell, they were just a year removed from league bottom feeders, and still hadn't won a playoff series in over 10 years. Not exactly a destination franchise, even with Kane and Towes.
Myth: "Well if he's so good why can't they just trade Brian Campbell!"
Reality: Well first I'd ask: if I've convinced you that he is indeed good, why do you want to trade him? Secondly, there really isn't a single place you can deal him to. There are two types of teams in hockey. There's teams like the Hawks, the Leafs, the Flyers, Canucks, etc, the big market teams that spend up to the cap every year. None of these teams have the cap room to fit 7.2 million onto their team (unlike baseball, you can't send cash in a deal.) The second type of team are the small market clubs. These teams can easily fit 7.2 million dollars, but they don't have the money or the stomach to actually pay that amount.
Myth: "Dustin Byfuglein could have been that puck moving defender the hawks needed, they didn't give him a chance before moving him to forward!"
Reality: Stop reading Barry Rozner
Myth: Cristobal Huet screwed the hawks
Reality: The Hawks are burying Huet's entire $5.625 million in Rockford, meaning it won't count against the cap. All of the numbers above factor in that money coming off the books.
Myth: "But I heard that the Hawks can't shift that Huet money until 10 days before the season starts"
Reality: You're correct, however, the NHL allows you to spend up to 10% over the cap until the season starts. It just so happens that Huet's salary is actually just a tic less than 10% of the cap.
Myth: "This is all Dale Tallon's fault."
Reality: If by "fault" you mean "building a championship team" then yes, it's all Dale's fault.
Dale did some unfortunate things. Screwing the pooch on the offer sheets last summer was a horrible, inexcusable mistake. It probably cost him his job and I can't say that I disagree with the decision. He also likely overpaid several players by anywhere between a few hundred thousand to a million dollars each that really added up and exacerbated the Hawks money issues this off season.
All that aside, he's the man who built this championship team. He drafted Kane and Towes, signed Hossa and Campbell, got Versteeg from Boston for Brandon Fucking Bochenski and Sharp from Philly for Matt Fucking Ellison and a 3rd-round pick. Yep, he whiffed on Huet, yep, he probably paid a bit too much for Campbell, but he's the reason the Hawks hoisted the cup.
Myth: "This is all Stan Bowman's fault!"
Reality: Stan was royally screwed going into this off season and he knew it. I wouldn't know a good hockey prospect from a hole in the ground, but I know that OTHER people who seem to know what they're talking about think the Hawks landed some good players in the trades, and I know he got a first round pick and a high prospect for Buff not days after another GM anonymously said he'd be crazy to think he could get that much.
Furthermore, he locked up Toews, Kane and Keith last year and kept Patrick Sharp. He's also got us in good position to shoot down the...
Myth: "There's no way the Hawks can keep Seabrook now either! Damn that Bowman!"
Reality: That $4.157 million in bonus money comes off the books next year. Seabs is already making $3.5 million dollars. Now there is no way on this or any other planet that Seabrook ends up making more money per year than Keith's $5.5 million per year. Even if you pay him 5 million that's only a raise of 1.5 million. I would not be at all surprised if Seabrook signs a contract on the order of 10 years/48 million in December or January.
Myth: "This is all John McDonough's fault, I knew his meddling would come back to bite us!"
Hang yourself ok that's too harsh, stop watching hockey.
Myth: "I can't believe the Hawks finally win the cup, and then they break up the whole team!"
Reality: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Brent Seabrook are still with the team. Those eight players were the eight best players on a team that just won the Stanley Cup. If you figure Niemi was probably the 9th best player, and Marty Turco is as good or better than Anti Niemi, and Dave Bolland could arguably be the 10th best player on last year's team, you're looking at a pretty good "core" returning. This also means that Troy Brouwer is your 11th best player and he's more than capable of playing on the first line with Toews and Kane. Find me a team in the NHL whose 11th best player is better than Troy Brouwer.
Are the Hawks better on paper than they were last year? While it's possible the further progression of the young players could make up for the losses of Buff, Versteeg, Madden, Ladd and they could find a 5th defenseman who can do what Sopel did in the playoffs, unfortunately, in all likelihood, they are not as good as they were last year.
That said, while arguments can be made that the Kings, Canucks, Bruins or a few other teams could roll out a team that is both as talented and as deep as the Hawks, unless Kolvachuk ends up with the Kings, none of those arguments is clear cut.
Repeating as Champions is the hardest thing to do in professional team sports, but this Hawks team is in a good place to do it. Instead of being upset at the Hawks for having to deal away a handful of fan favorites, you might want to stand back for a second and look at the bigger picture. The Hawks dealt away a handful of fan favorites, who were good players and they still have to be favored to make a deep playoff run in 2010-2011. That says more about how good the 2009-2010 team was than anything else.