What a Rising Salary Cap Means for the NHL

Matt EichelSenior Writer IJune 26, 2008

Remember the 2004-2005 season?

Not likely because the NHL was all but a dream that season.  

Why?  Because of inflated player salaries that were causing a rotting of the game from the inside out.

As fans, we lost out on an entire season of could-have-beens and what-ifs all for the sake of the almighty dollar.

And now the NHL and NHLPA have, once again, raised the salary cap for NHL franchises.  Is there a re- occurring problem here?  May we have a repeat of the shortened 1994-95 season?  Is there another 48-game season in the future?

NHL salary caps have risen by 6.4 percent from last season to $56.7 million. Immediately after the lockout, the cap was placed at $39 million.  This is a $17.7 million dollar increase over three seasons.

Remember Jaromir Jagr's $11 million yearly deal with Washington?  That could very well happen again as teams can now pay a player a maximum $11.34 million a year—a figure that has also increased.

And hockey fans missed an entire 82 games and playoffs to turn a new leaf in fiscal responsibility?

Call me crazy, but if teams' salary caps continue to rise, what did the lockout season of 2004-05 settle?

Was it to show that Gary Bettman was a hero by saving the NHL from a second consecutive lockout season?

Or maybe I'm still bitter about a lost season.

Whatever the cause for the increased salary cap, Bettman seems to be trying too hard to make the NHL a viable sport across the world, which will be difficult for him to succeed.

At the start of the "New NHL Era," it seemed possible that smaller markets such as Winnipeg, Quebec City, Hamilton, Kansas City, Hartford, and other places could actually support a team.

Now with the rising salary caps, this dream may never come to life.

Or will it?

Time will tell.