Friday, July 09, 2004

The bitching about the vet rule and the glorifying of the UHL continues.

Let's not forget one of the oft-unspoken reasons for the vet rule (and any changes to it): indirect (but verifiable) cap enforcement.

Vets are the players who tend to get the lagniappe, whether it's illegal stuff or arrangements that are totally within the rules (but still bug the hell out of poorer teams). It's certainly no coincidence that fans who dislike these changes most are from teams that were vet-heavy in the old days, and/or frequently accused of cap-breaking (as the two dominant UHL teams continue to be).

And as much as everyone likes to assume our league is being overrun by marginal young players, I don't think that is borne out statistically.

One paradox is, while the current CHL has a higher level of play IMO, that makes it less entertaining, because of better goalies, better defense, better-conditioning, stricter practices and more system-oriented coaching.

But there were how many minor league hockey teams in 1998, 120 or so? And now, what, around 90? With the three mergers (AHL/IHL, CHL/WPHL, ECHL/WCHL) and the dissolution of dozens of teams it remains a buyer's market for talent. The fact is you are seeing players in the CHL, both young and old, who wouldn't have been at the "AA" level in 1999. There are young players in this league who are better than Joe Burton or Paul Jackson were (even if they only stay a year), and there are old players in this league who would have spit in your face if you'd told them five years ago that they were ever gonna drop to the "AA" level. They just don't score as much, or generate as much excitement, 'cause the defensive positions have caught up and (some) forwards actually backcheck now.

Personally, I would like to see, if not more vets, a higher games threshold. I'm not sure the world owes every 30 year old hockey player who can no longer cut it in the AHL a living, but being a "vet" at 26 or 27 isn't right.

At the same time, I don't see that long a list of great players who are sitting home 'cause of the vet rule. If they are good enough, they get a job, in one league or another. Some have fled to lower leagues, which are supposed to have a smaller cap ($6500), but do you think Dougie played in Alabama for a standard salary?

Off the top of my head the best player that was most affected by the vet rule last year was Jonathan DuBois, but he chose to take the money in the "Q" instead of going to another pro league. And brass tacks, the Jonathan DuBois of three, four or seven years ago would have been the first guy signed, not an on-the-bubble fifth.

Same goes for Grobins, who is on the bubble now -- he had a remarkable season last year, but what about the two years before that? That's why he's not a slam dunk signing as a vet. Especially when the two goalies in the President's Cup Final were a rookie, and a guy who won Bossier's third championship as a rookie.

Here's an idea though -- the CHL should get creative and institute one or two exemptions per team -- kind of the vet rule equivalent of the NBA Larry Bird salary cap exemption. If a player has spent his entire career with a team, he gets an extra 100 games before he counts as a vet. That would limit the number of "vets for hire" or AHLers on their way down while giving two more seasons to players who have roots in the community -- the ones who can't just go and find another team (or league) because their nomadic days are over. It would also make some players think twice about going to another league for an extra 100 bucks a week in their second or third season, only to end up where they started in their fourth.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?