While we wait for the Antti Niemi hearing to define how we feel about the summer (though I don't care either way. If the number is low and he stays, great. If not, this team could easily win with Turco or Theodore coming in at a reasonable price), there's other issues going on in the NHL. You've probably been following the Kovalchuk shenanigans, and other free agency stories.
But there's something lurking behind all these stories, and it's this. Read this piece by Adrian Dater.
Frankly, it scares me, and not only because I would then have to get a real job (though that terrifies me more than you'll ever know). We'd all love to sit here and really believe that these two sides couldn't be so stupid again and drive the sport into oblivion with another work stoppage (and make no mistake, hockey wouldn't recover if it even has from the last one). But they are. Very much so. You have a players union that is unquestionably a mess and probably won't straighten itself out in time. Remember, these are basically Canadian farm boys with agents whispering sweet nothings into their ears, and those nothings have nothing to do with the greater good, just larger percentages for themselves. You have a group of owners who don't see things the same way, but are all too piss-scared of Bettman to cause a fracture, because in the end they believe he will make them money. And for the most part, he does.
But they're not all happy, as Dater points out. Secondly, the system didn't do anything. It didn't punish those for having the unfair advantage of a bigger market, it punished success. And teams are still spending wildly. It's actually hilarious that the Leafs, the biggest market, can't ice a team that can stand upright under this system.
What does it mean? It could mean no hockey, and it could mean the destruction of our possibly dynasty, if that ship hasn't sailed already. If the union is a complete mess by the time negotiations roll around, and the owners get their way and lower this cap by 10 mildo, we're all kinds of fucked. And all we did was build a team the right way and be good at hockey, and we'll be punished, and that's complete bullshit.
Secondly, I've railed at this before, but people need to stop looking at the NFL's hard cap and think that's why they're the biggest gorilla in the room. Football is played on Sundays, the perfect TV slot, and has gambling associated with it and all the other stuff. It has nothing to do with players having to be cut on roster bonus days or whatever it is. In fact, most fans hate that legends on their team have to finish their career elsewhere. Pats fans hated Will McGinest going somewhere else, why was Zach Thomas ever a Cowboy, and so on. The NBA has the Lakers. And Celtics. Just hearing those names evokes a connotation. Dynasties and sustained success promote the sport. Look at what happens to your local baseball stadium when the Yankees or Red Sox come to town. Passing your championship around like a joint that everyone gets at some point is hardly attractive.
But I don't understand it all, and I have a nasty habit of overdosing on logic.
-CONVENTION COVERAGE: Once again, the three of us will not be attending the conglomeration of sweaty men in Kane jerseys known as the Blackhawks Convention. If any of you are, please share your experience via the Fanposts and we'll pop it to the front page.
And a shiny new donkey for whoever brings me the head of Colonel Montoya...