The more things change...
It's the old addage - the more things change, the more they stay the same. Money is being tossed about much in the same fashion it was previous to the ratification of the new CBA. The 24% rollback was virtually meaningless in a sense, considering that there were nearly a couple of hundred free agents roaming the plains and the rollback hasn't affected them in the least.
It's business as usual in the NHL and huge wads of dough are being splashed about with the only limiting factor being the team salary cap. The cap may prove to be effective in creating a much more balanced and competitive field, which is a good thing, but it doesn't seem to be the major drag on salaries that many expected it would be.
Maybe I was expecting too much. I really wasn't expecting a plethora of salaries in the $4 million+ range, nor was I expecting the fairly long length of many deals. For all of the agony that the fans were put through over the past year, it seems as though GM's haven't learned a thing. The players are still making completely outrageous amounts of money, and rationality, it seems, has been tossed right out the window.
Many GM's are making moronic moves, and it could come back to bite them all in the ass. For example, at the time I'm writing this, Brian Burke has $32 million in salary committed to only 12 players. For the Niedermayers alone, he has $35 million committed over the next four years - to only two players. Good grief.
So much for "I work on a tight budget" Burke. And so much for declining player salaries.
Of course, the upside of a cap is that teams like the Rangers et al. cannot simply just sign everyone anymore. And believe me, I'm all for league wide parity. However, I'm skeptical. My fear is that as the league revenues rise, and they will long-term, the cap rises along with it. And when the cap gets to a high enough level, is the NHL going to be any better off considering that the bar on salaries has pretty much remained status quo?
Obviously I recognize that there has been a marginal drop overall, and in some instances significant salary cuts. But those large drops are few and far between, and I fear that we all may have spent a year pulling our hair out for nothing.
If idiot GM's continue to make signings such as Sasquatch wannabe Marek Malik for a craptastic $2.5 million/year, then I fear the fans will be crapped upon for years to come - salary cap or not.