DYNASTY R3IGN

Astonishingly enough, the first ‘hard’ cap (meaning there are no exemptions and so no luxury tax penalties are required) was introduced to the NHL during the 1994-95 season. Prior to the resolution of the first league-wide lockout in 2004-05, the NHL was the only major North American professional sports league that had no luxury tax, very limited revenue sharing and no salary cap. The lockout was resolved when the NHLPA agreed to a hard salary cap based on league revenues, which would allow for a higher cap figure. Since that time, only one team has won back-to-back Stanley Cups; the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. Keeping a team together in today’s NHL has become increasingly more difficult. It’s become fairly routine for players who win Cups to fetch bigger contracts, but oftentimes ending as a “cap casualty” elsewhere. Also, let’s not forget about the decreasing value of the Canadian dollar. Since this is where a huge percentage of revenue is generated, one might see the overwhelming issue and how it could directly affect teams with little-to-no cap room. The actual amount of the cap varies on a year-to-year basis, and is calculated as a percentage of the league’s revenue from the previous season. Most experts believe that the salary cap is expected to drop from the current $70 million.

 

They say you can’t put a price on championships. However, that tends to resinate with teams prior to the current salary cap being implemented. For example, when the New York Islanders won 4 Stanley Cups in a row from 1980-83, they did so with no salary cap. They could essentially pay their players as much as their owner’s pockets allowed. Not to take anything away from the Islanders, but the bigger market teams seemed to always have the upper hand. This was mostly due to the lack of overall talent around the league. Sure, there were great players in the league, there always has been. But with how inundated Americans have become with sports, the modern game has been taken to a whole new level. Hockey has advanced in many ways. Goaltenders are infinitely better than what you saw in the ’70s-’80s. Yes, their pads have evolved quite a bit, but when you consider these guys shoot the puck at a 90-110mph rate, it doesn’t take long to figure out why. Forwards are bigger, stronger, faster, and have heavier shots. Even as they’ve scaled down the net size considerably, the stick technology we see today gives all players better precision when they pass and shoot, but especially forwards. These guys have become glorified snipers on the ice and when given time and space, they can be extremely lethal. And finally, the term “defensemen” doesn’t even begin to describe what they do at their position. From facilitating much of the offense, to clearing the puck out of the defensive zone, to even chipping in offensively at the offensive blue line for sustained pressure, these guys nowadays do it all. Point being that in the modern NHL, you won’t see a team win multiple Cups in a row because of the talent pool which continues to grow at an unequivocal rate.

 

What the Blackhawks have done with all the expiring contracts, having to unload endless amounts of talent, and still managing to win the hardest trophy in professional sports, three times in the past six years is simply unprecedented. They also did it with the same core group of talent. Nine of the Blackhawks’ top-10 players according to Point Share Totals (how many points each player personally contributed to the team’s overall point total in the standings) this season, including Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane, were also members of the 2010 campaign; the only exception being left winger Brandon Saad, who had not yet been drafted.

 

The term ‘dynasty’ has been thrown around the sporting realm a lot recently. Some of it legitimate, while most leaves you scratching your head. But when the Stanley Cup was presented Monday night at the United Center, you knew. I sat back and reflected on what this team has done throughout the years, and I soon realized that I had been witnessing greatness all along. Sometimes as sports fans we take for granted how hard it is to win multiple championships, considering there are plenty of teams out there that haven’t known the feeling in quite some time. We are quick to question whether or not they’ll be able to win it again and traditionally find reasons why they won’t. You don’t have to be a fan of the team to respect what these guys have done. This group of men, the hard-fought journey they took, and the adversity they went through, all culminated into a team that will never be forgotten. They are currently the model franchise for professional sports. Take a good look, this IS a dynasty. Only time will tell if this continues, but here’s hoping it does.