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Salary Cap Era: Easy to be Good, Easy to be Bad

Former Atlanta Thrashers captain Bobby Holik talks to Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice about his experiences with the Thrashers organization, and his disappointment with today’s news.  In the course of that interview, Holik also made some observations about how the salary cap era affects a team’s success:

Holik pointed to the Tampa Bay Lightning as an example of how getting a solid ownership (Jeff Vinik) and management team (headed by GM Steve Yzerman) working on the same page can turn around an organization quickly.

“Why do you think Tampa has done so well in such a short period of time?” Holik asked. “Two reasons: in the salary cap era, you’re never too far from being good and you’re never too far from being bad. It’s all condensed to the middle. There’s no great teams. They’re all just good or average.

“So, you get an owner who has full trust in the general manager, he hires the right hockey guy and you have a general manager who completely backs the head coach (Guy Boucher). Then, you have a coach who completely believes in his players and you go from not making the playoffs to one goal short of the (Stanley Cup) Finals. That’s the salary cap era. It’s not that hard to be good and it’s very easy to be bad because you’re never too far from each end of the spectrum.”

Full interview discussing the Thrashers is here.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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Here’s the problem:  Holik’s full of crap.

There’s a pretty big difference between the East and the West with regards to level of competition.  So sure, in the East a team can go from not making the playoffs to making and advancing, because there aren’t any dominant teams in the East to get past.

In the first round Tampa beat a Pens team without almost 20 mil of player, and it still took them 7 games.

In the second round they beat a Caps team that’s never won anything and has the collective heart of The Tin Man.

In the third round they lost to a Bruins team that’s never won anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled for Tampa in general and Yzerman in specific, but if the road in the playoffs is that easy…

Also, Atlanta sucked because they had awful drafts.  And when I say awful I mean awful as in ‘in the running for the worst drafting team in the NHL.’

-They completely whiffed on the 1999 draft.  Where they picked #1.

-They had 14 picks in the 2000 Draft, got Heatley at #2 overall and that was it, then got completely raked when they had to trade him later.

-Got Kovy (at #1) in 2001, and then nothing.

-Blew the 2002 #2 on Lehtonen, and got nothing.

-Drafted Coburn in 2003… but traded him for Alexei freaking Zhitnik.

-Whiffed 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Epically, fantastically bad drafting.  They could have taped a pen to a chicken’s beak and spread feed on the draft board and done better.

So, Atlanta didn’t have any money, didn’t have any young players worth a damn because their drafts always sucked, and then traded away the only good players in their system for awful vets.

The only really surprising things are that Waddell had a job for as long as he did, and that Atlanta was in Atlanta for as long as they were.

If Winnipeg is run by a GM as awful as Waddell was in Atlanta, they aren’t going to survive 13 years there, either.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/31/11 at 05:36 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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