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xtra xtra!
Rooney Real Estate
Commonwealth Cooperative Bank
Posted August 11, 2005
Free Agent Frenzy
By Paul Noonan

     One of the main goals of the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement was helping out small market franchises financially so that they could be competitive.  Apparently, they didn’t want them to be competitive just on the ice.  For the first time since, I can remember, contract season saw more big stars leaving the big market than it did the other way around.  Usually a season in which the Colorado’s and Detroit’s stock up on even more talent, but the two teams saw some loyal leaders and all- stars go.  With the exception of Peter Forsberg, they did not relocate to the Big Apple or Boston or Toronto.  Instead they found themselves in Columbus and Calgary and Carolina.  Finally, the big names are flocking to the small markets, and now the big markets no longer have the upper hand as they prepare for a new, more balanced NHL. 

     Under the old CBA, Chris Pronger would still be in St. Louis, Colorado would’ve gone the extra mile to keep Adam Foote and Forsberg, and Philly would not have parted ways with Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte.  Yet, a week into the free agent season Pronger is now an Oiler, Amonte is looking to help Calgary go all the way this year and Foote will give Columbus their first true defensive defenseman.  Roenick and Forsberg both ended up in big markets, but not ones that many would have predicted.  So it appears the new CBA has worked.  Heck, even Pittsburgh has been a buyer in the free agent season, something they haven’t done since their Cup days of the early 90’s.  The NHL appears to have created a near NFL- like parity.  It is my personal opinion that all but three or four teams (Buffalo, Carolina, Anaheim and Florida, if you’re curious) have a very realistic chance at least making the playoffs.  Seeing as I don’t have a crystal ball, one of those four might even find themselves still playing in late April.  Before the new CBA, teams like Anaheim, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Calgary each made strong Cup runs, despite low budgets.  On the way, they took down some of the big guns like Colorado, Detroit, Philadelphia, etc.   It appeared that before the new CBA the NHL was slowly becoming a little more even.  Now, it is official.  The big markets can no longer buy their Cups, not to say they all have.  Instead the NHL will become a game which will need to be won the way it should be.  Hustle, chemistry, coaching, managing will now be the prominent factors in a team’s success.

     With just a few big name players still available as of Sunday, the frenzy should die down considerably.  As the smoke finally clears in early October, we will see new faces on new teams and hopefully a product to be happy with and proud of.  As all 30 teams take to the ice on opening night, finally the Nashville’s might beat the Detroit’s and the Florida’s might beat the Devils.  The Zamboni will leave a fresh sheet of even ice, and finally the better team will win.   

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