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January 31, 2005

Comments

So the point of the Star-Ledger article is that - gasp - teams have to work hard to find overlooked talent rather than simply throw cash at free agents. And the successul teams are the ones that can find hidden gems who adhere to the team's philosophy.

Yeah, I think a much better system is one that rewards the Detroit Red Wings for paying Curtis Joseph $9 million to plug a goaltending hole, rather than, oh I don't know - find a Mikka Kiprusoff or some other third string goalie looking for a chance.

Maybe you weren't paying attention Chris: "the old way of constructing teams -- drafting wisely and locking up players for their careers -- would not work." -- "With good draft picks, you become everyone else's farm system" -- "If you drafted well in the old system, you were assured of being on top for a reasonable period of time. If you draft well in this system, you will lose players" -- "12-year, $115 million contract structured with a signing bonus and incentives [to] take up only 10% of the cap room." Under a cap, the teams with the best accountants win, not the teams with the best talent evaluation/development programs, and teams find ways to pay their best players top dollar no matter what. And by the way, exactly what reward did Detroit get for signing Curtis Joseph?

I was paying attention. I just noticed that you conveniently left out some interesting quotes.

By the way, in what sport is it guaranteed that drafting wisely meant that you could lock up players for their entire careers? Am I to believe that the Seattle Mariners wanted to let A-Rod go to Texas? Or that the Orlando Magic wanted to let Shaq go to the Lakers? Or that the (pre-cap) 49ers wanted to let Charles Haley go to the Cowboys?

As for the Wings and Cujo, are you trying to tell me that they would have been a better team without him, then with him?

In what sport is it guaranteed that drafting wisely meant that you could lock up players for their entire careers? THE NHL. At least until age 31. At least until owners gave away their leverage over RFAs.

You may think that a hard cap will allow your favorite team to lock up its best draftees cheaply, but under an NFL-style cap, as the article pointed out, they will not be able to lock up all their best draftees, they'll have to decide which ones to keep and which to let go. And they will still be victim to McNabb-style contracts.

MY favorite team will be able to afford contracts like that, but YOUR favorite team will not. Some clever "capologist" will figure out how to make it work under the cap. The difference in this system is that now my favorite team will not have to overpay for over the hill veterans, they will now be able to steal away your best players while they are still in their prime. Is that what you want? That is what you will get.

I'm not sure what you want me to tell you about the Wings and CuJo -- you're the one who used "reward" in the same sentence as Wings signing CuJo, and last I looked, an early round playoff exit was no reward in my book, not when you thought you were paying for a Stanley Cup.

And maybe if you entered a real E-mail address, we wouldn't have to bore the rest of the readers with an exchange like this, we could do it in private.

Wise drafting means you can lock up players for their entire career in the NHL? Really? Funny, the Sens have drafted pretty wisely over the past few years only to have to trade away Yashin (who, once upon a time, when he was surrounded by other talent was actually productive) and Bonk once they got too expensive. So the Sens had to decide which draftees were the best to keep and which were the best to let go, which is eerily similar to the same thing that happens in the NFL. Any small market NHL team has been working under an unofficial cap for years, only to see their budgets get obliterated by idiots who pay Holik and Guerin $9 million per.

Employing a clever capologist is only the continued evolution of the game. Did you think it was bad for teams to start sending scouts to Europe three decades ago?

My point with Cujo (whom I loathe) was pretty straightforward. The fact that a team like the Wings could simply pay an overrated but better than average goalie $9 million to plug their goaltending hole instead of being forced to be creative and scout a little better only served to lift the salaries of other goalies who use him as their argument for a fat raise in arbitration.

Lastly, I don't like SPAM, so I don't post my email address on websites. Besides, you know my email address. Unless there are a lot of guys with the same name as mine sending you emails.

I'm really amazed that you can quote a scenario like the Sens and not see how things are going to change for the worse for them. Operating sanely and taking advantage of idiots elsewhere, they got an extraordinarily great return for Yashin (a playoff washout no matter what he did in the regular season), and if not for the impending lockout might have done better in return for Bonk.

Under a cap, they will get NOTHING for these guys when they lose them. Some other team that has drafted poorly and therefore has no players to retain under the cap will get them on the cheap because the Sens will have NO room to maneuvre. Or some idiots that in the past have paid Holik and Guerin insane amounts will find creative ways to pay younger stars in their prime insane amounts and steal those players away from the Sens for NOTHING, and end up with better teams as a result.

What are you missing? Under the old CBA, the Sens figured out the right way to play, used their leverage, and succeeded. The idiots that threw their money away got nowhere. And they all figured that out in the past two years and stopped doing it. The Sens were the solution -- under the NHL's grand scheme, they will have to share their playoff profit and then lose their best players for nothing in return. Meanwhile, the Rangers and Leafs will reap tens of millions in windfall profits while having an easier time snapping up other team's prime time players for nothing.

My point with CuJo is that if a team like the Wings decides to throw away all that money on him and still endure an early playoff exit when they could have developed a better player cheaply, then they will have to suffer the consequences, just like the Rangers have. The truth is the Wings built their own team, built their market, and used a few judicious veteran acquisitions to complete their team, and succeeded, and made a lot of money doing it. A different formula for success than the Sens, but effective -- until they made mistakes like CuJo and paid dearly for them.

The market wins out in the end no matter what system is put into place. The Eagles did not get to the Super Bowl because of the NFL cap, they got there despite it by hiring someone who figured out how to make the richest contract in NFL history look small under the cap. How will that system help the Sens? Answer: it won't, it will help the Rangers and Wings and Leafs -- and Bruins and Hawks, in case you didn't notice who the cap hawks are, the ones who want winners handed to them on the cheap.

Interesting theory that the cap will help only the Rangers, Wings, and Leafs. Is that why the Cowboys are in the Super Bowl this year? Is that why the Raiders were so awesome this year? And what about the Giants? The Redskins? Those teams would certainly be among the most profitable due to merchandising, yet none of them made the playoffs. So where is the proof that a cap is good for big market teams only?

What do you mean the idiots who threw away their money got nowhere? How many Cups did the Avs win without Roy or Blake or Bourque?

And how is trading a player that you can no longer afford under a cap system any different than trading a player under the current system? Please explain this to me. The Sens could no longer afford Yashin, so they traded him well before his UFA status kicked in. Are you telling me that they couldn't have made the same decision under a cap system? Why wouldn't they have received the same package from the Village Idiot under a cap system? Would a cap system have suddenly made Milbury intelligent? The process is the EXACT SAME as operating under a budget: we can afford X, we can't afford Y, let's get as much as we can for Y before we lose him for nothing. I get the impression that you seem to think that a cap means all GMs will suddenly become clueless as to when players become free agents and sit idly by and get nothing for them.

The big market-small market division doesn't exist in the NFL -- they're all big markets because they're all a single market. The NFL cap allocates TV revenues to players salaries, and most other revenues are equally divided among all teams.

Dallas and SF did well in the early years of the cap by spending big and are paying the price now. The Giants had a good team in the making that went to the Super Bowl but they couldn't keep it together under the cap. Oakland won two straight division titles within the past four years, went to the AFC championship where they lost to the eventual super bowl winner. Exactly what kind of case are you trying to make?

If you want to make the case that the Avs are big-spending idiots, be my guest. The Avs let more stars go, to be replaced by up and coming young talent, than they added Borques and Blakes. They won one Cup without the benefit of any of the guys you mentioned except Roy, and if you want to call them idiots for getting Roy, then you are in a minority of one. Maybe next you want to parrot Bettman's characterization of the Devils as a top ten payroll team?

To consider Colorado a big-market free-spending team betrays the blinders you have on. Colorado was small market team that failed in its first go round -- they are now a big market free spending team because they built a good team, kept it together for the most part, and WON. The NHL used to be set up to reward teams that WON. Under a cap, it will reward even the village idiot who made that ludicrous Yashin trade and contract offer, win or lose.

One thing you're right about -- under a cap, teams like Colorado and Jersey will never again be able to load up for a playoff run by getting the high-paid stars off losing teams, something both teams did successfully to get themselves over the top. Maybe you think it's a good thing, but the teams that got to unload those stars in exchange for prospects and picks will be hurt too -- they'll be stuck with the big contracts without any way to get out from under them. I believe it was a professor from Vancouver who demonstrated that in a recent article in an Ottawa paper.

Under a cap, the Sens would never have gotten what they got for Yashin. Milbury would not have the latitude under the cap to make that kind of multiple player offer, nor would he have to -- he could just wait for the Sens to cut someone loose because they had no room under the cap and get the guy for nothing, and he'd have room to snap him up because he himself drafted so poorly he didn't have anyone worth keeping.

Look, I'm not making this up -- you read what several NFL execs said in that regard. You can't keep everyone, you have to cut some guys loose, the good-drafting teams become farm systems for the poor drafting teams. But I guess if you figure Colorado BOUGHT their success, then you probably think this is a good thing, for the smart teams to subsidize the stupid teams in terms of both dollars and talent.

Blinders? Hello pot, this is kettle calling.

The Cowboys (and Niners) of the early 90s built their teams before the cap era. For the Cowboys, I'd say winning 3 Super Bowls in 4 years was pretty damn successful, but cap or no cap it was going to come to an end - Jimmy versus Jerry or not. Dynasties ALWAYS come to an end, cap or no cap. Players get old, players choose to leave, other teams get hungry, etc etc etc. The Habs or the late 70s, the Isles of the early 80s, the Oilers of the mid to late 80s.....what cap caused those dynasties to end?

The Raiders fell hard and fell fast because they were OLD and built to win right now, which was yesterday. Rich Gannon and Jerry Rice were hardly born and bred Raiders, were they? Go ahead the blame the Giants for their demise. You blame the cap. I blame team mangememt for simply not being creative enough or smart enough to keep the key team together and to plug in the holes accordingly - like, oh I don't know - the New England Patriots or Philadelphia Eagles have done.

Can you tell me exactly what "stars" the Avs let go? Kamensky? Keane? Ricci? Deadmarsh? PLEASE! Who am I missing? On what planet are those guys "stars"? Secondary players on a successful team? Yes. Stars? Hardly. I'll take a team with Roy, Blake and Bourque rather than Kamensky, Keane, Ricci, and Deadmarsh any day of the week, thanks. And my point of calling the Avs "idiots" was not to suggest they were idiots for getting Roy - that was a smart move that obviously paid off very well. What I said was they spent idiot (i.e. obscene) money. Roy+Sakic+Forsberg+Blake+Bourque was what - $45 million in salary - for those players ALONE? And I'm not even counting Hejduk, Tanguay, or Foote. Let me ask you something - if that team had been put together in Calgary, do you honestly believe they'd still be together? Of course not! The Flames would have had to choose between Sakic or Forsberg, regardless of whether or not there was a cap. So if the Flames were in the same position as the Avs, how exactly would the current system be beneficial to them? I'm going to assume that your argument is that the Flames would have had to have given one of those guys away and got nothing in return under a cap system, but could have made a very good trade under the current system (because those stars for prospects deals always turn out so good - who did the Bruins get for Bourque again?). I'll address your "get nothing in return" theory shortly.

How can you sit there and unequivocally say the Sens wouldn't have gotten the same deal for Yashin under a cap system? What's the basis for this argument? When I look at their 2000/2001 (pre-Yashin and Peca) payroll here: http://www.hockeyzoneplus.com/$maseq_e.htm I see them at $24 million which is CONSIDERABLY lower than the max cap of $42 million that the NHL put forth. So if Milbury decided he wanted Yashin, and decided that he was worth a #2 pick and an unharnessed Chara, then he certainly would have made the trade. Because if he didn't, maybe Atlanta ($19.1 million), Minnesota ($15.3 million), or Tampa Bay ($18.3 million) would have made an offer for Yashin. You simply don't know.

Lastly, if Milbury had decided to simply sit and wait until the Sens were forced to cut someone loose, who's to say that player would have been interested in playing for the Isles? If a player has been cut loose, he would be a free agent, would he not? So there's no guarantee that the Isles would have ended up with Yashin if they figured he was going to be cut loose. But to ensure they were going to get him - and not some other team, they would have had to make a trade, no? Sorry, but your "players will get cut loose with no return for the team who drafted and developed them" theory simply doesn't hold water. There will be teams with cap room looking for that one player to put them over the hump, just like there will be teams who have gone nowhere and are looking to deal their overpaid players. Will a cap make trades more difficult? Certainly. But why is that a bad thing again - asking GMS to work harder and smarter for their $500K?

So now you've gone from declaring the Cowboys, Giants, and Raiders as having failed under the NFL cap to explaining why they failed after first being successful under the cap, never allowing that it might have been for the exact reason that caps are criticized -- because you can't keep a good team together. And you suggest they've been mismanaged, as opposed to Philadelphia, whose biggest success in managing themselves under the cap, according to the article I cited, was masking the richest contract in NFL history under cap loopholes. So explain to me again why you want a system like this in the NHL, where a rich team can pull a trick like the Eagles to set themselves up for years and be praised for it. I just don't get the thinking behind it.

Your 20-20 hindsight in evaluating the players the Avs let go vs. those they kept merely proves my point -- they let aging veterans leave after they hit the downside of their careers and replaced them with young, cheap, homegrown talent. But why didn't you include Brian Rolston on your list of lousy players the Avs traded away? You remember Rolston, traded for Bourque along with a first round draft pick. Oh wait, you said you didn't remember who was traded for Bourque, so I guess you don't think Rolston is a worthwhile player.

Yes, the Avs eventually had to pay to keep that talent, but under the rules of the prior CBA they got many good years and a couple of championships out of Forsberg, Sakic, and comany before having to reward them for consistently contending and occasionally winning. They had a $20.6 payroll when they won their first Cup. If Calgary had drafted and traded as well as Colorado, they would have done as well and would have made enough money to keep their key players. Calgary, by the way, did pretty well trading Theo Fleury to Colorado for a failed stretch run -- who was that they got for him? Robyn who? The Flames could not make that move under a salary cap, unless BOTH teams had room to maneuvre under the cap.

Calgary is every bit as good a hockey market as Denver, maybe better. The ONLY reason Denver has become a better market is because they have been winning, because they have been well managed on the ice and well managed financially off the ice. Tell me again why Martin St. Louis and J.S. Giguere are not Flames?

OK, let me say it slowly this time so you get it -- the theory of good drafting teams losing players is not MY theory, it was put forth by several NFL executives commenting on their experience under the NFL cap.

If you want to look at your payroll levels for 2000-01 and speculate how teams might have behaved under the cap, there are a number of teams with lots of room under the MINIMUM payroll level who would've had the luxury of sitting around and waiting for over-cap teams to cut guys like Yashin loose and scoop them up for cash without giving up prospects or picks. In fact, the Sens would have just kept Yashin since they would've had room under their cap that they would have HAD to spend on him instead of shipping his sorry butt out, and then they would have been stuck with him instead of improving themselves the way they have -- if they hadn't just gone completely bankrupt even earlier than they did.

It's interesting that you chose that particular year as your example. Total league payroll that year is almost exactly what this year's payroll would be after the players' 24% rollback (a hair over $1 billion), $130 million less than the NHL's 54% of last year's "revenue" of $2.1 billion. Except that 14 of the 30 teams would have to spend more than they spent that year in order to meet the payroll minimum.

So what exactly is wrong with rolling the clock back to that year, implementing measures to dissuade salary escalation (foremost of which would be smart management), and letting GMs build their teams based on talent evaluation and player development that are ultimately judged on wins and losses, rather than build teams based on cost accounting that ensure profits even for losing teams in weak markets?

I just don't understand the thinking. Forget about who gets the money -- either way, they're going to take it away from us. What is the impact going to be on the ice, on the game? That's what we pay for.

Ummm, where exactly did my NFL argument change? You implied that only big market teams can be successful under a cap-based system. So I asked why that wasn't the case in the NFL, and you gave a couple of examples of teams that fell apart - because of the cap you said. And I disproved your examples (the Raiders didn't fall apart because of the cap - they fell apart because they were built around aging veterans. The Cowboys were going to fall apart, cap or no cap, because thats the very nature of dynasties. They come to an end). If you think that the Raiders fell apart because of the cap and not because of the ages of their core players then you are simply ignoring the facts. Age, and injuries that come with age, are why they fell apart. It is that simple.

Back to the Cowboys. I made my comment about the CURRENT DAY Cowboys. You seem to be arguing that if there was no cap the Cowboys would still be trotting out Aikman, Smith, and Irvin and challenging for Super Bowls. Sorry, but no. That team fell apart because of the egos of Jimmy and Jerry. Did the cap slow down their rebuilding process? Perhaps. But what fan wouldn't trade 3 titles in four years for some pain down the road?

Is Brian Rolston a "worthwhile" player? Yes. Is he a star? Hardly. You were the one who said the Avs had to jetison "stars" in order to bring in Roy, Blake, and Bourque. I'm still waiting for you to name a star. And if you think the marquee value of a Bourque is equal to the marquee value of a Rolston, then we simply aren't on the same page. And can you remind me again how many Cups the Bruins have won with Rolston? Remember, your criteria for success is a Cup win and nothing else.

Calgary is a great hockey market. I can speak to that first hand. I went to a Hitmen game last week - on a Wednesday night - and there were 8,000 people there. However, Calgarians don't spend US dollars at the Saddledome when buying their tickets, they don't spend US dollars on concessions, and they spend US dollars on their parking. Boom. 20% disadvantage - in a good year. And surely you don't think that companies in Calgary are paying the same amount of money for luxury boxes as companies in Denver are.

As for your Flea-o/Regehr example, again, you make an example and make a statement like "it couldn't have happened under a cap system unless x, y, z". Says who? For all we know, x,y,z could have definitely happened. Or, perhaps the year before, the Flames would have traded Flea-o to Florida for Jovanovski. You simply DON'T KNOW what would or could have happened under a different system. It's all hearsay!

This one is rich:

"If you want to look at your payroll levels for 2000-01 and speculate how teams might have behaved under the cap, there are a number of teams with lots of room under the MINIMUM payroll level who would've had the luxury of sitting around and waiting for over-cap teams to cut guys like Yashin loose and scoop them up for cash without giving up prospects or picks. In fact, the Sens would have just kept Yashin since they would've had room under their cap that they would have HAD to spend on him instead of shipping his sorry butt out, and then they would have been stuck with him instead of improving themselves the way they have -- if they hadn't just gone completely bankrupt even earlier than they did."

First of all, the Sens wanted to get rid of Yashin regardless of his contract status. Everyone know why. Second of all, would all of the GMs of the under-cap teams sit around and discuss who gets who from the over-cap teams? Of course not! If it was well known the Sens were shopping Yashin and five teams could afford him, and two desperately wanted him, they would have to compete for him, no? I find it thoroughly entertaining that your theory of being a GM under a cap system means you either get screwed by the cap and you have to dismantle your abundance of talent every three years, or else you just sit by idly waiting for other teams to cast off their expensive players, and you get to scoop up the ones you want because nobody else out there would want them.

I said it in my very first post, and I'll say it again. A cap means GMs have to work harder and be smarter. You seem to think that that's a bad thing. Personally, I'd love to see more Billy Beanes in hockey than Brian Cashmans. I'll cheer for creativity over a checkbook every time.

Lastly, you know exactly what is wrong with turning back the clock. It simply doesn't stop the next Ted Leonis from coming in and signing Jagr to a bloated contract. It doesn't stop an idiot like Tom Hicks from paying a 30 goal scorer the same money that only the elite players should get. It doesn't stop your "re-building" Rangers from paying a 2nd line centre $9 million and paying a player with a history of concussions $8 million based on "games played" incentives. In other words, turning back the clock doesn't protect owners from each other, which is what this lockout is about.

I'm going to have to end this discussion. If you are unable to own up to your own comments that are plainly evident on this very page, then how will you ever own up to the logic of anything else?

If you can baldly say the *I* gave a couple of examples of NFL teams that failed when in fact you are the one who first named them as examples of failures and then amended your statement when I pointed out that all achieved some success under the NFL cap, then what kind of discussion can we have?

If you are simply going to put words in my mouth that I never said, like Colorado trading stars for Bourque or Blake, when I clearly said those deals were young players and picks for stars at the end of contracts, and that Colorado otherwise let more stars go than they got players in that way, and pretend that you never wrote anything like "because those stars for prospects deals always turn out so good - who did the Bruins get for Bourque again?", then how can one have a rational discussion?

And if you're going to ask me disingenuous questions like "remind me how many Cups Boston won with Rolston" when a) you know the answer is exactly equal to the number of Cups they won with Bourque, b) you forgot the answer to the number of Cups the Avs won without Bourque, and c) you were the one who originally whined about Detroit being "rewarded" for signing CuJo when CuJo failed to deliver the Cup he was signed to deliver, then what the hey? The way you keep moving the playing field around, clearly you're just arguing for the sake of arguing.

And to tell me that my cap speculations are invalid because I don't know what would happen under a cap, while proferring no shortage of such speculations on your own, like the Yashin example, is no basis on which to hold a discussion. Tell me why my example is no good, like I told you why yours is no good -- don't tell me I have no basis on which to speculate in the first place. That's why it's called speculation, for crying out loud!

Finally, let me say it even more slowly this time: It is NOT a theory that *I* made up, it's one that I quoted directly from mouths of MORE THAN ONE NFL executive. What you find entertaining (as in, funny that I should suggest something so silly) is in actuality exactly what those execs said, and it makes perfect sense: You either draft well and develop talent well, and then have to lose some of it because you don't have room to pay for it under a cap, or you draft poorly and sit around and wait for the good drafters to jettison talent they can no longer afford.

Exactly what you believe is happening to Calgary today -- that they cannot afford to keep all their talent and lose it to wealthy teams -- is exactly what will happen under a cap (not according to me, but according to NFL execs who have worked under such a cap) to teams that excel at identifying and developing good talent and winning teams.

The only exceptions will be the Eagles of the world that hire whiz kid accountants to find ways to hide the richest contract in NFL history in a series of cap loopholes, the same way Boston busted the rookie salary cap, which worked in the owners favor until that point under the old CBA. This is an issue that you have skirted for this entire exchange.

You seem intent simply to break up the rich teams and punish the players who have enabled those idiots to ruin the salary structure, without once considering the unintended consequences of such actions -- that no well-built team will be allowed to keep itself together under a cap, regardless of market size. Under the old system, it is the very idiots in New York and Washington who had to break up their poorly managed teams, while the accomplished team builders in Colorado and Jersey were able to collectively win half of the last ten Cups by drafting, developing, and maintaining a winnig core of players.

It was Vancouver professor Stephen Ross (not me) who wrote: "Rigid salary caps will actually harm competitive balance because they lock players into existing teams and prevent lousy teams from quickly improving and good teams from obtaining the one or two key players they need to become Stanley Cup contenders. It is difficult to conceive of a more inefficient and anti-competitive scheme than one whose principal effects are to reward front-office mismanagement with guaranteed profits, hamstring the ability of new owners or general managers to repair prior mismanagement, and to consign fans of lousy teams to years of mediocrity, while not taking steps to enable well-run, small-market teams to achieve success."

Wow.

You: "The Avs let more stars go, to be replaced by up and coming young talent, than they added Borques and Blakes."

actually means:

"those deals were young players and picks for stars at the end of contracts"

Yeah, OK. One statement says "let stars go" and your amended statement says: "deals were for stars at the end of contracts". That's revisionist history that only Al Strachan could truly appreciate (since Al likes to criticize the Leafs for not spending more money on free agents, and now criticizes owners who spent stupid money on free agents).

I'd love for you to explain how those two statements mean the same thing. But its clear you don't like being called out on these things.

As for the NFL discussion:

You (I'm paraphrasing and distilling here): caps reward big market teams.
Me: Is that why big market teams are playing for the Super Bowl this year? Why aren't the big market teams in the Super Bowl (giving examples of the Raiders, Cowboys, and Giants)?
You: there is no such thing as a large market in the NFL. Besides, those teams had some success in the cap era but fell apart because of the cap.
Me: The Cowboys didn't fall apart because of the cap, they fell apart because of ego. The Raiders fell apart because they were old.
You: You've changed your argument.
Me: Huh?

Yashin and Ottawa - you maintain that the trade DEFINITELY WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED under a cap system. My stance is you have no idea what would or wouldn't have happened under a cap system. A cap system doesn't make trades impossible, it just makes them more difficult and requires more work and creativity by the GMs. My statement is a fact. Your statement is speculation. Case closed.

Lastly, (and let me say this slowly) not ONCE did I say you made up the theory. But you CLEARLY support the theory (a theory, put forth by NFL GMs who haven't won the Super Bowl, by the way - boy, they sure aren't biased). I'm shooting holes in the theory, and you don't like it, so you are going to take your ball and go home. Fair enough. It's your site.

"The Avs let more stars go, to be replaced by up and coming young talent, than they added Borques and Blakes."

I thought one of the official languages in Canada was English. What part of my statement confused you? Of course, neither part of it confused you, you clearly understood it from the start, because your initial reactions to it were, "Can you tell me exactly what stars the Avs let go? Kamensky? Keane? Ricci? Deadmarsh?", and "those stars for prospects deals always turn out so good - who did the Bruins get for Bourque again?"

So don't freaking pretend all of a sudden that you interpreted me as saying the Avs traded star players for Blake and Bourque.

Same for every one of your distortions -- "your 'get nothing in return' theory", "your 'players will get cut loose with no return for the team who drafted and developed them' theory", "your theory of being a GM under a cap", "not ONCE did I say you made up the theory".

First mention of specific NFL teams other than Philly or New England was by you: "Is that why the Cowboys are in the Super Bowl this year? Is that why the Raiders were so awesome this year? And what about the Giants? The Redskins? Those teams would certainly be among the most profitable due to merchandising, yet none of them made the playoffs. So where is the proof that a cap is good for big market teams only?"

When I mentioned that three of the teams you named achieved success under the cap in recent years, you amended your argument from simply labeling them as failures to explain why their successes and failures were not due to the cap. That, my friend, is revisionism. When I said that they're all big market teams, you simply ignored that argument -- Philly and Boston are the #4 and 5 TV markets in the US, Dallas, Bay Area, and DC are 6-7-8 (NYC #1 as we all know) -- so tell me again why the big market teams are not playing in the Super Bowl this year?

"you maintain that the trade DEFINITELY WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED" -- Every statement I made about it used the words "would" and "could", which in English grammar is called the "conditional tense", as opposed to will and can. Why am I not allowed to speculate on whether or how that trade would have come out under a cap? Why are you allowed to look at the Isles' payroll in that year and say they had room to trade for him and pay him, as if it would have made sense to do so under a restrictive cap, but I'm not allowed to look at the Sens' payroll and say, they would have had to spend a few million more and therefore might have wanted to keep him and maybe would have HAD to keep him? That's not discussion, that's a baseless wipe-out.

And I'm still waiting to hear how the type of genius who fit McNabb's contract under a cap is going to save the NHL. Don't worry, I won't hold my breath, because I know I'll never get an answer to that. You'll just wait and cry foul and blame those evil rich American teams when Jeremy Jacobs next decides that it's time to find the loopholes in the cap to get the player he wants.

So much for ending the discussion.

"Can you tell me exactly what stars the Avs let go? Kamensky? Keane? Ricci? Deadmarsh?", and "those stars for prospects deals always turn out so good - who did the Bruins get for Bourque again?"

"So don't freaking pretend all of a sudden that you interpreted me as saying the Avs traded star players for Blake and Bourque."

What exactly do you mean here? My take on your statement is as it always has been. You said, and I quote: "The Avs let more stars go, to be replaced by up and coming young talent, than they added Borques and Blakes." And I asked you - and I'm STILL asking you - what "stars" they let go. Feel free to answer that question anytime. But since you can't answer that question, and since you keep dodging it, I won't hold my breath.

By the way, is replacing the "stars" with Kariya and Selanne really replacing them with up and coming young talent? Yeah, those guys are two young prospects.

When again did the Cowboys achieve success under the salary cap? The team of the early to mid 90s was PRE salary cap.

What does TV market have to with revenue? Do they not share their TV contracts? I'm talking merchandising. Surely you aren't suggesting that the Cardinals get a cut of the number of Cowboys jerseys sold at Texas Stadium.

I'm the one who struggles with English? This is another one of your statements:

"Under a cap, they will get NOTHING for these guys when they lose them."

Perhaps you struggle with reading. Where's the would or could in that statement? THEY WILL GET NOTHING is a conditional tense? Absolutely comical.

I looked at the Isles payroll to prove my point - you can't say "THEY WILL GET NOTHING" when, in the year the Isles traded for him, they would have been able to fit Yashin under the proposed cap. So my point was that they very well could - conditional tense - have still made the deal. Can I get another grammar lesson please? The first one went so well.

"And I'm still waiting to hear how the type of genius who fit McNabb's contract under a cap is going to save the NHL. "

I'm still waiting to see that pan out as well. However, I'm not going to run around saying something DEFINITELY WON'T WORK before it has been tried. The current system DEFINITELY DOESN'T WORK for too many teams. Do you know of a system that DEFINITELY WILL WORK? Oh right, as an unofficial spokesperson for the NHLPA anything they propose is going to work better than anything the owners propose. Whatever.

Can't wait to see your incoherent dismissal of the new offer from the NHL. Shared profits with the players - BAD! Independent auditors and stiff penalties for the Bill Wirtz's of the world. BAD! Making a player prove himself before he makes millions of dollars. BAD! The right to opt out of the deal after four years. BAD! Fiscal insanity by a select few owners screwing up the market for the majority of owners. GOOD!

Congratulations -- you win. You got the last word in.

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