Last Saturday's edition of CBC's Hot Stove caught my eye for a myriad of reasons, here's the clip:
Now there's a couple things of interest there:
- Brian Burke still pushing the idea of allowing some salary to be retained during a trade. This is something that he's been trying to do since he was with Anaheim.
- Ian Pulver either ignoring or not understanding the idea of theoretical discussion on how to improve the current CBA structure and steadfastly sticking to the idea that 'the rules are the rules' as opposed with the discussion point of 'how to change the rules to make them better.'
- Ron MacLean bringing up Tom Benjamin's name when talking with Pierre LeBrun about the salary cap. For anyone interested, I think Benjamin's blog article about the problem with the salary cap (and LeBrun's support of it) was particularly interesting.
- But the main point that they argue is something that may not have been looked at too closely at the end of last season with the Calgary Flames reduced to dressing 15 skaters in a handful of games for salary cap purposes and the NHL turning a blind eye to it. Let's look closer...
As I understand it, at the end of last season, Calgary was extremely close to the cap, thanks in part to the deadline deal that saw Olli Jokinen become a Flame. As the season came to closer to an end, the team had some issues with injuries, namely with Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich.
Because of the cap crunch, Calgary was unable to recall players to fill those voids. In Regehr's case, his knee injury may have qualified him for placement on the Long-Term Injured Reserve, but because it was approaching the end of the season, there weren't enough games left to fulfill the 10 game/24 day unavailability period.
In the end, Regehr missed the final five regular season games and all six playoff games that Calgary played (no salary is paid during the playoffs, thus the salary cap is not in effect). Sarich's ankle forced him out seven games in total, including one playoff match and he then played in the remaining five post season contests for the Flames.
So up against the cap and with injured players, Calgary dressed a shortened bench and the NHL, more or less, ignored it.
Now the question: Was this a violation of the CBA and what should have been done?
Ian Pulver (as stated in the video above) thinks it was and thinks Calgary should have forfeited those games that they could not dress the minimum roster as dictated by the CBA. Let's be frank, forfeiting a game, especially during the stretch run when teams are all fighting for points is not a reasonable solution for a number of reasons.
But Pulver is right, Article 16 (b)(4) of the CBA states:
“Absent an ‘emergency’ (medical, physical, death in the family), the CBA requires a minimum of 18 skaters and two goalies each game.”
These leaves Calgary with few other options:
- They could have waived higher salary players to make enough cap room to be able to call up players from the minors to fill out their roster.
- They might have been able to dress injured players to sit on their bench and not play.
But instead, none of these things happened and the NHL turned a blind eye to the Flames violating the CBA in order to not go over the cap. I can't see how it would be possible for the Flames to be able to declare an emergency as detailed above. While no one can plan for injuries, it was the Flames own player movements that placed them on the cusp of cap trouble to begin with.
Given all of this, what would you have Calgary and more importantly, the league do in this situation?