Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/03/14 at 07:49 AM ET
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
Bettman this year had a fantasy final four: Montreal, the most storied franchise in NHL history; New York, an Original Six team playing in the nation’s largest market; Chicago, another Original Six team from a large market on the verge of a dynasty and Los Angeles, the second-largest market two years removed from a title.
The NHL has its dream Stanley Cup final with the Rangers and Kings in a best-of-seven series starting Wednesday. New York and Los Angeles, the two largest U.S. markets on opposite coasts, will play for a title for the first time since the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1981 World Series.
Still, with Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago again winning the last four titles, it begs the question: Did Bettman level the playing field?
The salary cap created competitive balance Bettman wanted. Teams such as Buffalo and Edmonton have nobody but themselves to blame for their ineptitude in recent years. The same goes with Toronto, Calgary, the Islanders and any other team that has consistently fallen embarrassingly short.
Bettman’s stroke of brilliance, or luck — and it’s actually a combination of both — can be found in two ways. He created competitive balance by limiting the money teams could spend on players, but he also forced teams to construct tighter payrolls and rethink their approaches when it came to personnel.
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