Sep 21, 2019

Hockey's "middle class" hit hardest by NHL salary caps

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings on Sept. 18, in Chicago, Ill. Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

NHL veterans and experienced players — known as the "glue guys" or hockey's "middle class" — are being devalued by salary caps and struggling to secure guaranteed contracts, the AP reports.

The big picture: The salary cap was initially added in 2005. NHL's salary cap range for the 2019-2020 season has a $81.5 million ceiling, per NBCSports — a $2 million increase from the 2018-19 season.

What they're saying: “It’s sad because these veteran players are monumental to the team,” St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly said, per the AP. “Especially these guys that have won, too, like Devante Smith-Pelly."

  • “Teams, they want to take a shot on a young guy that has got an upside they see,” O’Reilly said. “It’s tough because there’s so many good players out there that aren’t getting jobs because of it.”

Reality check, via Axios' sports reporter Mike Sykes: The NHL players don't seem to see their dissolving middle class as that big of a problem. They just opted into keep their current labor agreement in place until the summer 2022, which leaves the league's "glue guys" out to dry for at least 3 more seasons — and possibly more if the league and its players agree to extend the deal.

Go deeper: The biggest earners left in the NBA and NHL playoffs

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Selling the NHL's stars despite hockey's team-first attitude

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Hockey players are taught from an early age that the name on the front means more than the name on the back, and that mindset remains firmly entrenched at the sport's highest level.

Why it matters: Selling individuals while not straying too far from hockey's team-first culture is easier said than done, but the NHL must rise to the challenge if it wants to attract the next generation of fans.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

Lakers-Nets game tips off in China

LeBron James during pregame warmups in Shanghai. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

Thursday's game between the Lakers and Nets proceeded as scheduled, but the Chinese government will not allow players or coaches to talk to the media before or after the game. In addition, Adam Silver's pre-game press conference was canceled.

The big picture: This is a high-stakes political battle between the world's most populous country and one of America's most visible entities, with its 2 newest owners, Tilman Fertitta and Joe Tsai, playing major roles.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

Premier Lacrosse League ends its grand continental tour

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The inaugural season of the Premier Lacrosse League came to a close in Philadelphia on Saturday, with league MVP Matt Rambo and the Whipsnakes beating the Redwoods, 12-11, in an OT thriller.

Why it matters: Over the course of 4 months, the PLL was able to create more buzz around lacrosse than the sport has seen in quite some time — and maybe ever.

Go deeperArrowSep 24, 2019