Credit: Detroit Sports Nation

During my last appearance on the HOCKEENIGHT Puckcast, we briefly discussed the impending end of the NHL’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement following the coming season with the focus shifting mainly to the mandatory salary cap floor.

Forklift pointed out the relatively small gap between the cap ceiling ($64.3 million) and the minimum number ($48.3 million). For you math whizzes out there, that’s a $16 million difference – or the estimated amount of two high-priced studs or 3-4 second-tier players.

In the grand scheme of things, the amount separating the floor and the ceiling isn’t all that much, and I agree with Fork that forcing small-market teams to shell out dough relatively similar to those playing in high-revenue cities may, MAY (I’m emphasizing there with the all caps and the italics) do damage to those franchises.

With the ceiling and floor both rising, it has forced certain teams to take on some bad deals and overpay to simply hit the floor. For one, Dale Tallon brought to Florida Brian Campbell’s contract ($7.14 M) and signed Tomas Kopecky ($3 M), Ed Jovanovski ($4.1 M) and Tomas Fleischmann ($4.5 M) to deals which all made our acid reflux reach disheartening levels.

And yet with all that, the Panthers are barely standing on the floor. To Tallon’s defense, it was a spending spree forced upon him by the NHL’s CBA which required him to shell out these head-scratching deals.

But is that such a bad thing?

As the discussion between Fork and I continued, he mentioned that Florida may be a halfway decent team this season – and that’s where I kicked things into gear.

The cap floor is designed to help institute parity in a league which at one time operated like Major League Baseball – spend the most, and you’ll have a better shot at winning. The salary cap ceiling prohibits a wild payroll, while the floor basically forces each team to spend enough money to compete at a level respected around the NHL.

Granted, certain teams are always going to be hurting for fans no matter how well they’re playing. But after the fiasco of the 2004-05 lockout, fans needed to be won back in one way or another. By having a salary cap with no minimum dollar amount, teams around the league could continue sputtering along with no chance in hell by simply fielding a team of AHL-caliber talent on the cheap. That doesn’t do good for anyone involved, even if you wish your team had more guaranteed victories on the schedule.

It’s not to say a team couldn’t compete without a cap floor – Nashville is struggling to hit the floor, yet they’re expected to be competitive – though the chances of every team being competitive drastically increases as the minimum dollar amount escalates.

While Tallon may look insane for the new paper he’s given out this offseason, there’s no denying the Panthers are a better team for it. And that’s what we all want – better hockey throughout the league. If it takes the league mandating a minimum amount a team can spend on player payroll for that to happen, so be it.

Call me insensitive – which Fork has done and will continue to do (Jerkface) – but the financial issues for a team are not my problem as a fan. Being a fan and a season-ticket holder, I want solid hockey every night, even if that means it makes the Blackhawks’ chances of winning each night more difficult. Teams have moved before, and they’ll move again. And if it’s the salary cap floor running franchises out of their market, well, that’s just tough shit. For those fans in cities that have lost teams, I feel for them. But maybe they should have brought their friends along with them to the games to help the team stay afloat.

I refuse to believe the salary cap floor is what’s harming some of the franchises around the league. Owners knew going in they’d have to spend good amounts of money. And maybe if they spent more, they’d have a better product on the ice to sell to prospective ticket buyers, in turn maximizing their revenues in many different areas.

If anything, continue bumping up the floor. Make it up to the GMs to be smart enough to put their money in better places than the next guy. All I want is a universally solid product around the NHL, and if there’s one thing the new CBA needs to carry over, it’s the rule instituting the salary cap floor.

I don’t care how many bad contracts it takes to get there.

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