This is not to say that parity, or Tyler Dellow’s thoughts on it are bullshit. I just like this song, okay?
Over at mc79hockey, Tyler Dellow has thoughts on the growing parity of the NHL – horrible teams are becoming somewhat less horrible, and also much more expensive to run. Dellow sees this as a bad thing. In addition to the piece, there are two well-thought-out comments: a dissent by “Sacamano” and a concurrence by Tom Benjamin. While I am, at the margin, pro-dynasties (and thus about as anti-parity as the beta decay of Cobalt-60), I think all three people look at the question too GM-centrically. People who follow hockey semi-professionally (by which I don’t mean that they sorta get paid. As far as I know, they don’t. I mean that they do it a lot) like Dellow and Benjamin can lose sight of what the NHL is designed to accomplish. They practice the craft of evaluating teams, and since teams are in some quite large part shaped by the decisions of the GM, to them it means evaluating GMs. But the NHL is not a surprisingly popular and extremely expensive simulation game about the art of General Management. In the end, it matters very little to me whether Mike Gillis is more competent at being a General Manager than Steve Tambellini (spoiler: he is). What matters to me is whether the Canucks are better than the Oilers and will continue to be so. So as long as there are sustained differences in team quality, I can be satisfied. And the NHL has something that sustains differences in team quality: star players. There aren’t that many of them, they are all different, and they affect how a team plays. Perhaps our sense of fairness is allayed when we think a certain GM “deserves” a good team. But ultimately GMs are boring old men in suits (or exciting old men in the remnants of suits, in the case of Brian Burke). There’s no reason that it has to be all about them. When I watch hockey, I want a quality team to identify with that will be superior to its opponents. But whether the mechanism that drove that superiority was the super-genius of Lawrence Gilman or a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon is a secondary question.
I guess what I’m saying is, there are things I dislike about the CBA and how the NHL currently works. There are proposals out there for changing how it works that I like or dislike. I think “will it properly reward and punish GMs?” is a question that needs to be asked of these proposals. But I don’t think it needs to be the first or most important consideration.