Restructuring a deal under the new cap would mean the player would make less money. Is that legal? When you sign a contract aren't you legally, never mind the sub-rules imposed by the NHL itself, obligated to meet the expectations of that contract? Both the player and the organization?
Well, not in the NFL. If a player would rather take less to stay instead of being cut, they're always free to re-negotiate if both parties want to.
If the player stops playing before the terms of the contract are up (i.e. retires) then he is or is not paid, depending on how the contract is worded, but the team is still charged an amount towards the cap. The league did this to prevent teams from creating all sorts of stupid ass backloaded contracts which simply circumvent the salary cap. Were this not in place, teams like Philadelphia (no brains) or Toronto (bottomless pockets) could simply backload all the contracts they want and be a gazillion miles over the cap. How would that be fair to the other teams in the league that can't afford to do that? It's not and realistically you'd do immense damage to the league. I think you could expect the league to contract to about ten teams or less if you let them go freewheeling for salaries that are backloaded, maybe more.
In the NFL teams back-load deals all the time. Eventually they pay the price. Maybe they can load up for a year or two, but they they're quickly forced to cut players - and players won't take backloaded deals without guaranteed money in signing bonuses that are still assigned to the relevant year's salary cap if a player is cut or retires. Clearly it's different in the NHL, but it's easy to prevent teams from being able to circumvent the cap for long.
In any event, thanks for the explanation, I'm not familiar with how the CBA and cap work in hockey like I am with football.
Still bummed to see Vinny headed elsewhere. I don't think it's really a given that he'll be back... if someone throws a few years at him for more money than he thinks he'd get taking a short deal...