The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

STANLEY CUP WRAPUP: THE TEAMS
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Boy, definitely on a sports groove today! I have other things I could write about, but I'll roll with it.

Here are a couple of last-looks at this year's Stanley Cup finalists, how they got there, and their prospects for repeating the feat:

- The Devils are touted as the model franchise, by virtue of their perennially winning ways, accompanied by the absence of high-profile free agent signings. This stands in stark contrast to the neighboring Rangers, who lose no matter how many salary heavyweights they bring to town. Everybody hates to see players make anything as obscene as fair market value, I guess. However, this article is a bit misguiding, in that it strongly suggests the Devils are a low-payroll team. That's not that case. New Jersey ranked eighth in team payroll during this past season:
  Payroll
RankTeam(in millions)
1N.Y. Rangers$69.2
2Detroit$68.0
3St. Louis$61.8
4Dallas$61.8
5Colorado$60.8
6Philadelphia$55.7
7Toronto$54.9
8New Jersey$51.2
9Washington$50.4
10Montreal$48.6
11San Jose$45.1
12Chicago$44.4
13Phoenix$43.9
14Los Angeles$41.8
15N.Y. Islanders$41.5
16Anaheim$38.8
17Carolina$38.4
18Boston$36.9
19Vancouver$35.3
20Calgary$33.6
21Buffalo$31.5
22Edmonton$31.5
23Florida$31.2
24Pittsburgh$31.2
25Ottawa$28.5
26Tampa Bay$28.9
27Columbus$27.4
28Atlanta$27.0
29Nashville$23.3
30Minnesota$21.1
Source: NHLPA


Of course, these numbers aren't "real", considering two-way contracts, mid-season trades, bonuses, etc. Still, it shows that New Jersey is not exactly a small-market team. The Devils' stars get paid top-flight salaries, particularly Martin Brodeur ($8 mil per year) and Scott Stevens ($7 mil). If you want a real more-bang-for-your-buck team, that'd be Minnesota, which made the Western Conference finals with the lowest payroll in the league. If you think payroll totals actually mean anything, which I'd argue they don't.

- Meanwhile, the Ducks have a lot to be proud of, coming out of nowhere to get within 60 minutes of a championship. They, and many others, see the pieces in place for a sequel. It's an easy team to like, for sure. But I'm skeptical that they can make it all happen again. People said the same exact things about Carolina after last year, and look at how they fell apart. For all the accolades that Giguere got, he'll have to carry his performance into next season for me to be convinced he didn't just get hot at an opportune time. The rest of the team seemed to gel very well after the All-Star break; again, let's see if they maintain it come October.