by PuckStopsHere on 10/16/11 at 01:32 PM ET
Creative accounting is a part of the NHL in its salary cap era. The Philadelphia Flyers have a method that is unique to them to exceed the salary cap. They do not buyout players. Instead they permanently transfer them to the longterm injury reserve. Any player who has had a lengthy NHL career has some kind of recurring injury problem that can be played up and turned into a longterm ailment. This allows the team to pay out the injured player’s salary to a new replacement player. If the player was bought out, there would be dead salary cap space that couldn’t be used.
Mike Rathje is the best example of this. He last played 18 games in the beginning of the 2006/07 season and remained on the Flyers injury reserve until 2010 when his contract ended. Derian Hatcher spent the entire 2008/09 season on the injured reserve until his contract ended. Both of these players never played again and provided needed salary cap relief with their injuries.
The current Philadelphia Flyers exceed the salary cap with their longterm injury players. They have two players in Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts who are on the injured reserve and expected to never play again. Ian Laperriere has not played since the 2010 playoffs. It is highly unlikely that he ever plays another game and yet the Flyers keep him on payroll. Blair Betts has serious knee problems. The Flyers waived him at the end of training camp because he was unfit to earn a roster spot. Montreal claimed him on waivers and then returned him to the Flyers when his routine medical showed just how badly he is hurt. Their careers are likely over.
These situations do not make the Philadelphia medical crew look good. They let players remain on the roster with serious career threatening injuries. When in makes salary cap sense, the player is permanently transferred to the injury reserve instead of bought out. Players may spend years in the limbo of the injury reserve and delay retirements to stay there.
The Philadelphia Flyers have exceeded the salary cap in nearly every year that it has existed. They have done so with longterm placement of players on the injury reserve. These players are no longer making any serious attempt to return to the NHL, but the Flyers find it advantageous to keep them there instead of buy them out. This is one method used in the NHL to exceed the salary cap.
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