Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Ottawa game: Was it really a $64 million roster?

If you look at - and you should, as the money component of the National Hockey League is at least as, if not more, important than the on-ice component when general managers consider rosters - you'll see that (as I type) the Columbus Blue Jackets are now a salary cap team.  They're sporting a combined salary cap number of $65 million (with a little over $3 million in Long Term Injured Reserve cap relief).  Once you add in bonus monies ($2.5 million and remove the LTIR relief), you're looking at the third most expensive roster in the NHL.

Never before have the Blue Jackets opened up the checkbook like this.  Problem is, never before have they opened the season 0-7-1.

This combination is lethal.  To spend like drunken sailors (compared to prior seasons) yet not win a single game?  To only have a single point in the standings?  Pathetic is putting it nicely.  We're talking disaster...CBJmageddon.

I'm not going to sugar coat the on-ice performance.  And while I think that Scott Arniel still had more than enough firepower to beat the likes of Eastern Conference cellar-dweller Ottawa, I think it only fair to reframe the discussion to reflect reality.

My point is, the CBJ are paying out $65 million in salaries, but they're not icing a team worth $65 million.

Let's use that Ottawa game as our model.  It's an ideal game to illustrate my point because both Radek Martinek and Marc Methot were injured in the prior game and hence added to the pileup of salary cap money that did not get on the ice.  Beyond Methot and Martinek, the Blue Jackets were paying for yet unable to play Jeff Carter, Kristian Huselius, Jared Boll, James Wisniewski, Curtis Sanford and Marc Dekanich.  (And don't forget that the CBJ are burning off the cap hits coming from the buyouts of Mike Commodore and Duvie Wescott.  Before you blow a gasket, realize that most teams have dead cap space from buyouts.)

So that takes our incredible $65 million payroll team and turns it into...a $40 million roster.  By comparison, the lowest salary cap load in the NHL is carried by the Dallas Stars with $48.5 million.  (Yeah, I know.  We lost to Dallas twice.  Sigh.)

Again, I'm not making excuses.  The CBJ should have won in Ottawa.  However, calling them a $65 million team when the loss of nearly $17 million in salary money lost to injury - all but the suspended Wiz (and his $5.5 million salary) and the $2 million in buyouts was a result of injuries - is just not fair to anyone involved.

This team is snakebit right by injuries right now.  That's not to say that we fans should accept an 0-for-October season, as the coaches and players surely should be able to conjure up a scheme that keeps them competitive, but facts are facts.  Injuries are killing this club.

Those are my two cents on the matter.  My calculations are outlined below.


  1. While I understand this but we can look to our dreaded enemies in the East in the Penguins they loose 4 of the most important players on their team and yet they continue to win games. Using injuries and suspensions as a crutch will keep this team handicapped forever.

  2. Keep speaking truth to power, Superjacket.

    I'm with you and said as much when I wrote, "I'm not going to sugar coat the on-ice performance. And while I think that Scott Arniel still had more than enough firepower to beat the likes of Eastern Conference cellar-dweller Ottawa..." and "Again, I'm not making excuses. The CBJ should have won in Ottawa."

    The Pittsburgh example is a great one. Bylsma deserved that Jack Adams award for coach of the year for getting a similarly injury-ridden team to the playoffs. It CAN be done. For whatever reason, Columbus is not doing it.

    The point of this piece is, we fans have many legitimate gripes when it comes to this team, the inability to win a game being right up there at the top.

    Calling it a $65 million team when nearly $25 million of that team is unavailable, though, is unfair. It might just be a matter of semantics, but facts are facts.

  3. just a question but does anyone know the stats from the early '09 team (january i think)that had lots of injuries and illness including nash? if my memory is completely nuts i apologize

  4. CBJs are the Obama Administration of the NHL.
    (stick with me here...)

    1) Hope & Change.
    We got both. Neither has turned out how we expected. Bitter, bitter disappointment. In fact, it is worse than we could ever have imagined.

    2) Spend. Spend. Spend. Run unbelievable deficits. Spend some more.
    And what do you have to show for it? Can't see anything at all (CBJ-because they are all injured; Obama-all the stimulus went to the banks, and foreign banks at that)

    (I'm only partially kidding here)


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