Nothing says “silly season” like a Tony Gallagher editorial.

You might remember Gallagher from his on-air humiliation at the hands of Shawn Thornton last summer.

Or perhaps for his facepalm-worthy column accusing NHL officials of a conspiracy against the Canucks.

In a column this week, Gallagher called on the league’s revenue-sharing recipients, particularly the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators, to cease their attempts to sign star free agents like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Gallagher’s gripe is that the “poor sisters” of the league are using wealthier teams’ donated money to drive up salary costs.  And that, he says, just isn’t fair to the wealthy owners. He suggests that revenue-sharing teams should only pursue the minnows in the free agent pool.

Sadly, Gallagher’s enthusiasm to defend the profit statement of a few billionaires seems to have overridden his journalist’s instinct to research a subject before publishing critical commentary.

Take, for example, his apparent ignorance of the required salary range.  Carolina is $5 million below the current salary floor, and Nashville is another $9 million lower still. These teams don’t have a choice; they must spend more money on salary.  Whether it’s by chasing a blue-chip asset like Parise, or by throwing a bloated contract at an undeserving depth player, there is no option for these teams to stash away dollars for a rainy day.

Now, what drives up salaries faster — stars like Parise and Suter making $7.5 million per year, or middling defenders like Dennis Wideman and Matt Carle nudging ever closer to $6 million?  Which group of players does the most damage to owners’ wallets, the rare marquee superstar or the horde of overpaid depth filler?

Besides, controlled salary inflation is the reason why revenue sharing exists in the first place. The text of the current CBA makes it crystal clear:

 

The Player Compensation Cost Redistribution System described herein, therefore, is designed to cause certain high-revenue Clubs to contribute even more of their revenues toward the payment of Player Compensation–albeit indirectly–by redistributing a certain portion of the revenues of such Clubs to the lower-grossing, small market Clubs so that such lower-grossing, small market Clubs may be able to, and elect to, spend more on Player Compensation. The Player Compensation Cost Redistribution System is intended to enhance the ability of all Clubs to be financially competitive with one another, and, at the very least, to allow all eligible Clubs to be able to spend to at least twenty-five (25) percent of the Team Payroll Range, plus the Club’s share of Benefits, on Player Compensation (i.e., Player Salaries, Bonuses and Benefits).

 

The purpose of revenue sharing is, simply, to be sure Carolina and Nashville do exactly what they’re doing.

Then there’s Gallagher’s inexplicable choice of targets for criticism. The Predators were attempting to re-sign a player whose presence has helped them become a regular playoff team, and whose departure may influence the future of franchise cornerstone Shea Weber. Retaining these players has been GM David Poile’s top budgetary priority for years.

The Hurricanes are fresh off signing a more lucrative television contract, and new investors in the organization have given GM Jim Rutherford some flexibility in his payroll decisions. In pursuing Parise, Rutherford was attempting to secure a top winger to play with Eric Staal, a move that would help vault them back into the money-shower of the playoffs.

These are moves that have an immediate positive impact on the organizations’ bottom line. If Gallagher wants to see these teams rise up by their bootstraps to get out of the revenue-sharing bracket, he should have no issue with their choice to pursue quality talent.

And if the acquisition of a big-time player increases their revenues enough to disqualify them for financial assistance, guess what happens?  Another team takes their place in the bottom half of the revenue bracket.

This is the system the owners agreed to use. We lost a whole season getting it right, and it’s working exactly the way it was intended. What makes Gallagher think that any of the league’s most successful owners are willing to move backward on a scheme that has lined their pockets for the last 7 years?

Unfortunately, Gallagher takes the matter a bridge too far with a feather-brained idea for the top-revenue teams to secede and form their own league.  You see, this isn’t really about free-agent fairness. It’s about a small-minded tabloid writer who fantasizes about dealing a death blow to half the league in a single stroke. And if we dig even deeper, maybe it’s about the deep insecurities incurred by repeatedly losing out on perceived entitlements. The lament of the loser.

But that’s what we’ve come to expect from Tony Gallagher during the silly season.

Thomas Manshack is a staff writer at Sunbelt Hockey Journal. Follow him on Twitter: @TarHeel_Hockey

About The Author

Husband, father, hockey writer. Born and bred North Carolinian. Hurricanes season ticket holder. Scrub defenseman.

2 Responses

  1. Kyle

    Not a big Tony Gallgher fan, but this article smacks of character assassination. Thomas Manshack is just as big a crony here.

    • Thomas Manshack

      Kyle,

      Thanks for the reply. My intention isn’t to assassinate Gallagher’s character, but to comment on the aspects of his personality which show through in his writing. He has a history of publishing provocative columns without a strong basis in fact. That was apparent in his article on a perceived officiating conspiracy, then again in his comments regarding Shawn Thornton (both linked above) and now in his attack on other NHL management groups. And the pattern of insecurity regarding any perceived slight against his home team should also be clear in the articles linked above.

      A consistent pattern of ill-researched articles on divisive topics, motivated mainly by home-team bias and propagated through a major daily news outlet, constitutes a character flaw in my opinion. In the Internet age, Gallagher’s comments are available well outside his home market and he has an editorial responsibility for his words.

      Thanks again for your feedback, which is always welcomed.