NHL Draft: Why Does the League Reward Failure?

Dan SturgisCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2008

In the real world, if someone is terrible at their job, they are fired. If a business can't make money, it goes bankrupt.

In European soccer, if a team finishes in last place, they are relegated to an inferior  (and usually less profitable) league.  

In the NHL, if a franchise stinks and comes in last place, instead of being punished, they are rewarded with the top young talent. 

Is that the way it should be? 

I'm a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and they are in the worst position of all!

By blowing their $50 million budget, Toronto always has a borderline competitive team. A team that won't ever come in last place, or likely even the bottom five.

This would be good in a league where abysmal failure is punished. But in the NHL, their competitiveness means they will never get a shot at drafting a superstar, while likely never being good enough to win the Stanley Cup either.

Most irritating of all are the Pittsburgh Penguins, who from 2002 to 2006, drafted fifth overall, first overall, second overall, first overall, and second overall.

They now have two of the top five players in the league, and a large pool of high-draft talent rounding off the team. Add a couple of rental players, and the only thing they need is a few Stanley Cups to prove the point. In the NHL, the worst teams have the brightest future.

If I could scratch the NHL system, the first thing I'd eliminate is the draft, followed by the salary caps. Players should go where they want to go from the start.

Back when Eric Lindros boycotted playing for the Nordiques, I was mad at his decision. But now, I don't blame him. Why go to a team destined to fold/relocate. Today, I'd like to see more stars boycott playing for struggling hockey markets.

Failure shouldn't be rewarded. It should be punished.