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...
Don't have a direct link for you, but Lecavalier said directly that he would be back. He'll only go for a year because he has to under league rules, but his family (wife/kids) are settled in the Tampa Bay area and that's where he'll stay. You could of course be right though.
The NFL is a dramatically different beast than the NHL. The football revenues from television alone dwarf the entire NHL, never mind merchandise, gate, etc.
And you accurately point out the NFL player can opt to restructure the salary as opposed to being cut. In the NHL you cannot outright cut a player and then not pay him as you can in the NFL*. All salaries are guaranteed, unless there are performance bonuses but I believe those are not allowed in the NHL, at least not formally as a part of the structure of the salary as it is counted towards the salary cap. Any signing bonuses, plus salaries over the length of the contract, are added together and divided by the length of the contract to give you the "cap hit" against the salary cap. So front loading, back loading, all count against a team's cap to try and provide some degree of parity, lest the Toronto Maple Leafs become perennial cup winners simply because they have nearly unlimited revenues. I daresay it would be worse than the Yankees/Red Sox by a substantial margin.
The * in there is what Lecavalier in TB, Bryzgalov in Philly and others have experienced is a compliance buy out that is allowed under the new CBA of the NHL to get rid of those idiotic deals. Teams are only allowed two over the length of the CBA so Philly for example has used both of theirs. Players in a sense do get hosed, as they are only paid 2/3 of the total salary owed to them on the contract. But they are allowed to immediately sign another deal with any other team. So as in the case of Lecavalier he's likely ending up ahead of the game. But even if they never play again in North America, a guy like Bryzgalov ends up with $20+ million in his pocket, immediately, and then trundles off to the KHL to play for $5 million tax free.
Such hardship they endure if they are a compliance buyout. It's nothing like the NFL where you're an aging running back that gets cut and has no more money coming in.
It may be easy to prevent teams from circumventing the cap in the NFL, I think it's a far better run organization and has the ability to buoy up teams where necessary from alternate sources of revenue. The NHL simply can't do that and there are general managers/owners that are clearly a little nuts and think buying a championship will work, where in the NHL it never really has (Messier's cup in NYC?). There is also massive disparity that isn't offset by television broadcasting right. Phoenix Coyotes? New York Islanders? Or perhaps Winnipeg/Quebec City/Hartford circa 1995?
I still think the Coyotes go to Seattle because QC and Toronto 2.0 will be more willing to pony up 250+ mil for the expansion fees than Seattle.
Then, in a few years when you're ready for expansion, you'll see...
- Colorado heads West to the Pacific group
- Toronto 2.0 and one of DET/TB get dropped into central division
- QC gets dropped into Division C to take the place of DET/TB
That way, with Toronto 2 in the West, they can dream of an all Toronto Cup final (or the much less likely all FL cup final with TB in the west and FLA in the east )
Likely the case with Seattle, we'll find out soon enough I think. As for the expansion, I think you're likely correct for the most part. I think TB maybe goes west, but I don't think Toronto 2.0 goes west, the big market teams they want to see in that new facility will be on the east coast, and given what they'll likely pay for that expansions team ($0.5B), they'll get what they want. I think the league sits unbalanced and Detroit remains in the east though I'd love to see them come back west.