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The Pros and Cons of Adding the Franchise Tag to the NHL CBA

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Adding the Franchise Tag to the NHL CBA

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    The start of free agency in the NFL is signified by a lot of movement.

    The Detroit Lions signed running back Reggie Bush, the Baltimore Ravens signed Chris Canty and the Chicago Bears signed Martellus Bennett.

    But when a contract runs out in the NFL, a team has the ability to designate a potential free agent as a franchise player.

    Once a player receives that designation, his original team can be assured of keeping him.

    If a player receives a non-exclusive franchise designation, his team can match any offer he receives from a competitor (source: ESPN.com).

    If a player receives an exclusive franchise designation, no other team can even make him an offer.

    The NHL does not have a franchise player designation in its Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NHL Players' Association.

    If it did, it would certainly change the free-agent landscape and it would bring several positives and negatives with it.

Pro: Franchise Keeps Best Player

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    In the NHL, a general manager will make out his game plan and determine which players he wants to keep and which players he can afford to let go.

    He can't be sure that he can keep the core of his team together because a player has a right to play out the length of his contract and sign with a competing team.

    Last year, the New Jersey Devils were led by high-scoring and energetic forward Zach Parise. He was a free agent at the end of the 2011-12 season. General manager Lou Lamoriello would have liked to have kept him, but he could not offer the same kind of compensation that Parise received from the Minnesota Wild.

    As a result, he signed a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Wild (source: Sportsnet.ca).

    If Lamoriello could have named Parise as his franchise player, Parise would still be skating for the Devils.

Con: Changing the Market

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    When an NFL team tags a player with a franchise designation, it is forced to pay him the average salary of the top five players in the league at his position.

    If the player performs poorly, the team has no recourse and must pay him at that level as long as the team continues to employ him.

    The franchise player designation can change the market artificially. If one team believes its player is worthy of the designation, another team may have to pay its own player more if it believes that player is more accomplished than the player who was franchised.

    If a team is incorrect in its belief that a player is worthy of the franchise designation, it can have ramifications throughout the league.

Pro: Continuity

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    A team can maintain its identity when it can name a franchise player.

    In the NFL, a franchise player may or may not be a team's best player. That player becomes closely identified with his team on and off the field.

    A franchise player may not be linked with a team for the rest of his career, but it does ensure that he will be with the team for a significant number of years.

    That can be very reassuring for the fan base. Teams have a lot of turnover under normal circumstances, so it can be hard for players to build relationships with the fans.

    By designating a franchise player, that athlete has a chance to become part of the community for several years.

Con: Anger

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    The franchise designation can be good for a large number of players and help them get the financial security they want for themselves and their family.

    That's going to happen when you are designated to be among the top five at your position.

    But what if you are the No. 1 player at your position and instead of getting paid more than anyone else, you get paid the average of the top five?

    You'll still get a lot of money, but not as much as you deserve.

    That can lead to anger and resentment.

Pro: Financial and Emotional Security

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    The franchise designation can be a powerful benefit to the player who has been tagged by his team.

    It means financial and emotional security in many cases for the individual.

    Along with a significant amount of cash, the team has designated one player above all others as being important to the franchise.

    The team is telling the player that it depends on him as a partner for its success.

    That type of support can provide financial and emotional security to any player.

Con: Jealousy

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    When a player gets designated as a franchise player, it can create rifts in the locker room.

    If there are two players of near-equal value, why was one chosen and the other was not?

    How does a team explain it to the player who was not chosen?

    For example, if the NHL had a franchise player designation, what would the Vancouver Canucks do with brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin?

    Do they name one over the other? If they do, what problems would that cause?

    It could cause controversy and jealousy among teammates.

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