Posts tagged ‘National Hockey League’

February 28, 2011

The Motives of Free Agents

by Jeeves

After the formation of, for lack of a better name, (I’ll oblige them), the Heatles and now that Carmelo officially has become a Knick, it appears that the free agency landscape has changed drastically in the NBA. Throw in the impending (2012) free agencies of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard and it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that the (star) players now have all the leverage in terms of where they end up. The teams that these stars are leaving are desperate to get at least pennies on the dollar so they kowtow to the wishes of their star even as he orchestrates his departure. Inevitably, that star will leave for greener pastures in a larger market. That is, at least, the perception.

It is that perception that I want to take a look at. Do stars really leave their teams to sign larger contracts in a city they deem better? Plus, what qualities do these cities have that make them “better”?

So these are the rules, if you will, of the way I treated the data. I scoured the Internet for reliable lists of the highest paid players in their respective leagues. For the NBA, I used a HoopsHype list of the highest salaries of players for this season. This means that I wasn’t looking at the largest total salaries, just single season salaries from this current season. The site listed the top 30 players. For the MLB, I used the invaluable Cot’s Contracts. He had the top 33 total contracts in history listed, meaning the total value over the life of the contract. That means for the MLB, it’s more of a snap shot of the last 15-20 years rather than a single season snap shot. Finally, for the NHL, I used a listing from USA Today which had the top 25 salaries from LAST (2009-2010) season. (I ignored the NFL because things get hairy after including signing and roster bonuses).

So after choosing my lists, I parsed the names to find out which players either A) Signed with a different team as a free agent or B) Forced a trade/was traded and immediately signed an extension. Those in group B weren’t technically free agents, but things worked, to the same effect. It does, however, exclude players such as Matt Holliday who was traded to the Cardinals, played through the remainder of the season, hit free agency, and then resigned with the Cardinals.

Let’s take a look at the lists starting with the NBA since this is what set me on this line of inquiry:

NBA – 10/30 – 33%

Rashard Lewis (Magic)

Carmelo Anthony (Knicks)

Gilbert Arenas (first salary) (Wizards)

Amare Stoudemire (Knicks)

Kenyon Martin (Nuggets)

Elton Brand (76ers)

Peja Stojakovic (Hornets)

Lebron James (Heat)

Chris Bosh (Heat)

Carlos Boozer (Bulls)

Of the 30 highest paid players in the NBA, only 10 of them met my criteria. Bosh, Lebron, and Carmelo are all prominently on that list. They also, make up a sizable portion. The teams that the players signed with don’t seem to have any sort of correlation. For every Carmelo who wanted the big market you have a Peja who signed with the small market Hornets. For every Lebron James who headed for warm weather, there’s a Carlos Boozer who went to a cold weather city. I think what it comes down to is that the players went to the teams that could pay them the most. They also seem not to be (LBJ excluded) the premier talents of the league. Yes, Amare Stoudemire is a very good player but he wouldn’t be in your top 7 of players with whom to start a team with. Taking this all into account, it seems (recently) that star players usually sign extensions with teams that drafted them (2/3 of the listed 30). It means that the Heatles and Melo are breaking the mold, so to speak, with the way that they orchestrated their moves to their current teams. It’s impossible to say whether this is a trend or a blip, but if history says anything it is that you can expect some superstars to move about, but the vast majority will stay put.

After the jump we’ll take a look at the NHL and MLB.

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January 28, 2011

Underrated: NHL All-Star Game

by Jeeves

I am a hockey fan; I admit it. Unfortunately, I’m not as big of a hockey fan as I was in the mid-90’s, back in the days with the likes of Chelios, Amonte, Roenick, and Belfour. Part of the reason for that is due to Bill Wirtz trying to kill hockey in Chicago, part of it is due to less leisure time than I had as an elementary school kid, and a large part of that is due to general mismanagement by Gary Bettman. I think one of the few things the NHL and Bettman have gotten right in the intervening years is the NHL All-Star Game. I’m going on the record and saying it’s fairly underrated.

Before we get into it, here’s a brief history of the NHL All-Star Game:

1947-1967: The Stanley Cup champion from the previous season played against All-Stars from the other teams preceding the start of the season, except for the 5th and 6th All-Star games where it was a team of all-stars from the Canadian based teams vs a team of all-stars from the American based teams.

1967: The All-Star Game moved to mid-season

1968: The All-Star Game became an East vs West affair, with the teams not chosen after the end of the preceding system, but at the mid-way point.

1975: Due to realignment into 4 divisions, the All-Star Game now pitted the Wales Conference against the Campbell conference.

1985: Fan balloting was started to determine the starters.

1990: The NHL skills competition was introduced.

1998: North American stars vs World Stars

2003: The game reverted back to East vs West

2011: Two players serving as captains will choose their teams from a pool of all-stars

That brings us to the present and the point of my article. I find this new wrinkle absolutely fascinating. There are so many storylines that will play into and come out of the “draft.” Bunches of questions will be answered, like which Sedin brother will be chosen first? Will the latter chosen brother rise up and play better to prove the captains wrong? Do players think as highly of Jonathan Toews, as I do? Will the captains skew towards players from their own countries? The questions go on and on and on. To be honest I may be actually more interested in the picking than the actual game. There’s also the fact that the picking will allow the public to see the actual pecking order within the NHL. Yes, there are ways to judge players and rank them, but this serves as a, sort of, straight from the horse’s mouth ranking scheme.

While this whole concept is, to be honest, a little weird, it has definitely achieved its purpose; it has increased interest in the game. Perhaps it is just me, but as I grow older, I have become less and less interested in All-Star Games. The appeal and shine have slowly come off of the games and they seem like empty exhibitions. The NHL had the stones to mix things up and inject some life into the proceedings. They have created a novel twist into something that had become increasingly rote, and for this I commend them. Brendan Shanahan deserves major credit for working on the idea and standing behind it.

I’ll also add that the NHL has the best non-ASG event. I completely and thoroughly enjoy the skills competition. The different competitions are so basic that there’s actual bragging rights that come with it. Who wouldn’t enjoy finding out who the faster player in the NBA or NFL is? Well, the NHL tells us this each year (save for Olympic years). Want to know who can hit the hardest shot? Well, the NHL sets up speed guns for that very purpose. It’s pure awesomeness; it would be akin to having MLB pitchers try and throw the fastest pitch. These are the types of questions that fans argue about over beers and think about while writing blog posts. The NHL provides a forum to answer these questions and put the arguments to rest for a year. No other sport offers that same forum (now that the NFL stopped). Yes there are events like the home run derby and the dunk contest, but it doesn’t break things down to their fundamentals the way the NHL SuperSkills competition does.

The actual game itself may end up being just as exciting as past iterations, but that’s not the point. The point is the NHL is providing novel entertainment. They are throwing in tweaks that are far more exciting than in other sports, yet how many of you honestly knew that the ASG is this weekend? Bottom line: the NHL All-Star game is totally unheralded and completely underrated.