Friday, September 13, 2013

Wherein I try to rationalize the Jared Boll re-signing

Jared Boll signed a new contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  It is reportedly a three-year deal worth $5.1 million, taking Boll through to the 2016-17 season.  The Blue Jackets will carry a $1.7 million cap hit for Boll.

Proof that Jared Boll will do anything for the team and its fans
(Instagram photo by seanworthman)
That the Blue Jackets re-signed Boll is not incredibly surprising.  He's a fourth liner's fourth liner, working hard when he's on the ice.  He's popular with the fan base and will pretty much do whatever the team asks on the PR side ("Jared, can you sign some autographs at the team event?"  "Sure!").

And he fights.

Boll is not a scorer.  His top scoring season was 2010-11, when he dropped seven goals in.  The past three seasons, Boll has had two goals apiece.

He's a fighter.  Really.  Off-ice contributions aside, he's a fighter.
So here's the thing.  I appreciate that the CBJ want a fighter on the roster.  I've come to loathe the fighting aspect of professional hockey, but I loathe unilateral disarmament even more.

But $1.7 million per season for a fighter?

Let's put that $1.7 million in perspective.  Arguably the best fighter of the NHL in recent memory - certainly the most feared - was the late Derek Boogaard.  Boogaard, too, was not a scorer.  Boogaard's last contract, with the always-generous New York Rangers, was a four-year deal with an annual cap hit of $1.625 million.  It would have expired at the end of this season.

So Boll is being paid at least on a par with Boogaard, while not being able to match up with the likes of Boogaard.  Or with Boogaard:

So why on earth would the Blue Jackets give Boll that type of money?

My guess: The ever-growing evidence of significant brain injuries among fighters.

More directly, I'm guessing that the available pool of willing NHL fighters is shrinking every day.  As the the body of work from places like Boston University grows, one has to believe that fewer and fewer people are willing to risk their futures for the impressive financial rewards that an NHL career affords.  The prospect of permanent brain damage is downright scary, even to Boll himself.

Basic economics suggests that prices increase in an environment of scarcity while demand stays consistent.  That, in a nutshell, is what I'm guessing the CBJ had with Boll.

Fewer fighters in a league that still needs fighters means more money for the fighters.

And with the term, the team doesn't have to worry about finding a fighter for another three years.  The world can change in three years.  In fact, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see fighting banned in the NHL by the time Boll's contract is up.

So good for Boll.  Good for the Blue Jackets.  The team covered its needs.  Boll cashed in.  On with the season.


  1. For those who understand, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible. Congrats to Jared Boll on the new contract. No surprises to me that he's wearing an "A" in the 2012-2013 yearbook picture He is the poster boy for "Will never be outworked."

  2. Bad move. Boll is going to cost as many games as his only skill wins. Should have let him go and promoted Cody Bass.

  3. There has to be a premium on a guy who will be OK with getting punched in the skull repeatedly. With the improved understanding of head trauma, he deserves more than the other 4th liners.

  4. He'll be making as much as Brian Boyle, Abdelkader, Cleary, Goc. What a reach.