The new CBA that marked the end to 2004-2005's lockout was supposed to herald a new era of parity in the NHL. Has it done so?
The 2011 playoffs is the sixth to commence under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in this Salary Cap Era. Through six tournaments, only two teams, Toronto and Florida, have failed to reach the postseason at all.
Of 30 teams, the one from the largest hockey market and one from one of the smallest hockey markets have been the only never-rans.
There have also been five franchises who have only made one token dip into the playoff pool since 05: Atlanta, Columbus, the Islanders, Edmonton, and St. Louis.
Carolina, Minnesota, Phoenix, and Los Angeles have each waltzed on the dance floor twice. In the cases of the Coyotes and Kings, those two playoff berths took place in 2010 and 2011, evidencing a resurgence. Minnesota and Carolina look more like bubble teams making the playoffs once every two or three years.
Tampa, Dallas, Colorado, and Chicago have all made appearances in exactly half of the six salary cap era playoff tournaments.
The top half of the league, 15 teams, have made the playoffs at least four out of the six seasons since the lockout. Only Detroit, San Jose, and Anaheim have danced every year while New Jersey, Philadelphia, the Rangers, Montreal, Pittsburgh, and Nashville have only experienced an early offseason once since 2005. Ottawa, Buffalo, Washington, Boston, Calgary, and Vancouver have all missed the playoffs twice under the new CBA.
Among the "top half" of the league that has made the playoffs more than half the time since the lockout, 11 reside in traditional markets and 4 (San Jose, Anaheim, Nashville, and Washington) in non-traditional hockey cities. The "lower half" of the league, those teams that have made the playoffs 0-3 times in the last six years is more evenly divided between 7 traditional markets (Colorado, Chicago, Minnesota, Colombus, Long Island, Edmonton, and Toronto)and 8 non-traditional markets (Tampa, Dallas, Carolina, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Florida.).
So is that parity? Half the league's teams, including only 4 "non-traditional market" franchises dominating the regular season while the other half, including two Original Six teams and eight "non-traditional market" teams finding failure most seasons?
For the record, I would argue that yes, this does reflect a league with a good amount of parity but a handful of franchises with inept leadership.
What do you think?