Saturday, November 11, 2006

Salary Cap Chicken and Egg

I was thinking about the Leafs line-up situation as they head into their game against the Habs tonight and I bumped into a question I don't have the answer to.

Prior to the salary cap era, big budget teams like Toronto, Detroit, St. Louis, Philadelphia and the Rangers could use their spending power to acquire additional players to cover up any number of holes on their team - whether it was a bad trade, a history of poor drafting or an injury depleted line-up. Now? Not so much.

Which leads me to that question that’s been rolling around in my little brain pan all afternoon: Is the Leafs new-found reliance on youth and depth a result of the salary cap or is it part of some greater master plan?

I'll put it another way: if there were no cap and the Leafs could run up $70 to $80M in salary commitments, would there be a youth movement underway down at the ACC? Would some young prospect be headed out of town right now to fill one of the current holes on the Leaf bench? (Could one even go so far as to suggest this is some sort of Rorschach test on the status of JFJ - those in the extend-him camp answering master-plan; those in the anti-JFJ camp answering salary cap forced his hand...)

We'll never know the answer to any of these questions, but it's what I've been thinking about between heated games of connect four with a cagy three-year old this rainy Saturday afternoon.

3 comments:

  1. Paul Steckley10:56 am

    If there was no salary cap last season, the Leafs would have done what they had done since Quinn came on board, overpay for veterans whose best years were behind them. The kids would never have been given a chance and the Leafs would probably have made the playoffs, sparing Quinn his job.

    That, more than anything else, is why I like the salary cap.

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  3. I think we know the answer to the questions - the Leafs never attempted a youth movement in the past, when they had no salary restrictions, and we have no reason to imagine they would have changed their ways at all...there is nothing in their activity over the last 10 years to suggest they would have done anything differently. Their payroll amounts continued to escalate each year until the lockout happened.

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