Cup winner wants cap relief: Kings GM wants NHL salary-cap solution in Slava Voynov case

Cup winner wants cap relief: Kings GM wants NHL salary-cap solution in Slava Voynov case

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi is stark raving mad at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. But does the Tulane law school-educated GM have a case?

The issue mostly stems from Bettman’s comments saying,"Every team has to manage its salary cap, right?It’s just the way it works. … The integrity of the game requires teams to comply with the salary cap.”

Lombardi feels it's unfair that Slava Voynov’s $4.167 million still counts against their salary cap. The league has offered no assistance to L.A., after Voynov’s arrest last month on suspicion of domestic violence and subsequent indefinite suspension (with pay).

The Kings can’t just stow him somewhere and have him not count against their number, which has meant Los Angeles had to play with less than a full lineup at times.

Below are Lombardi’s quotes to Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register:

"You build in a cushion for injuries,’’ Lombardi said. "Even with that cushion, there is additional relief when a player has a long-term injury. In certain issues, such as steroids, there is immediate cap relief, so that you don’t have to build in a cushion. However, as this case makes clear, we must now do one or/and two things. 

“We must build in a cushion in case one of our players is a bank robber, kleptomaniac, etc. The seemingly better alternative is, we have to do a better job of educating our players and, in particular, monitoring our players away from the rink. While monitoring them away from the rink may have the Orwellian connotation of `Big Brother’ oversight, that is the nature of the sports business in the cap era.”

And this quote encapsulates why we love Lombardi. How many NHL GMs can cite George Orwell and “1984” and compare it to hockey?

He might be the only general manager who can go toe-to-toe with Bettman in an epic force battle like in “Revenge of the Sith.”

But in some ways, Lombardi is the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. What has enabled the Kings to be successful and build a salary cap era dynasty are cap circumventing-type deals – some signed by players with other teams before the 2012-13 lockout and some signed with Los Angeles beforehand, or even afterwards.

For example, is Jeff Carter a good long-term investment at 11 years? The answer is no. But a cap hit of $5.27 million can enable a team with money to keep its core together. And Carter has been a major component to Los Angeles’ Cup runs.

The same goes with Mike Richards, whose cap hit for 12 years is $5.75 million per season.

Granted, these were deals given out by the Flyers that have ultimately benefited the Kings.

But what about signings Lombardi has made?

Drew Doughty’s eight-year deal carries a $7 million cap hit, which is right in the wheelhouse for an elite defenseman.

Anze Kopitar is one of the best two-way players in the NHL and has two years left on a seven-year contract with a $6.8 million cap hit.

Justin Williams “Mr. Game 7” can be deemed as grossly underpaid at $3.65 million per year. If Williams became an unrestricted free agent last summer – he is in the last year of his contract – you think he would have cashed in? Oh yes he would have.

Even post-lockout, Lombardi got a steal with Marian Gaborik taking a massive cap-cut from $7.5 million per-year to $4.875 million per season (albeit on a front-loaded seven-year contract).

In fact, Voynov’s six-year $25 million contract may be one of Lombardi’s worst in his Kings tenure, which is partially why the $4.167 million salary cap hit may be so irksome.

It’s easy to see Lombardi’s anger. You look to the East Coast and there’s a team called the Philadelphia Flyers who have been able to hide big-contract players whose playing days are done and not have them count against the salary cap.

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