Hockey blog Springing Malik has earlier this week posted a new calculation of "CHIP", the man-games lost analysis he's been performing since April 2009.
multiply each game missed by a player by his 2009/10 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82.This lets us see things like how in the 48-game lockout-shortened season† the Oilers, who finished 12th in the west and were ten points short of making the playoffs (ie. their best season in ages) had the fifth highest CHIP in the NHL, partly due to a (surprise surprise) Taylor Hall knee injury.
† In case you were wondering, yes it's by law that the 2012-2013 season always be referred to using those exact words: the 48-game lockout-shortened season.
But there's something a little funky if you check the list out, a special case that may deserve some special attention. Currently, the second most-injured team in the NHL is the Philadelphia Flyers. If you were thinking you just heard about both Steve Mason and Luke Schenn, and that must be it, try again: they were both reported on February 10th, the list was published on the 9th. Otherwise, you might find yourself thinking, minus a brief Christmastime issue on their D-line, the Flyers haven't been too harmed from the injury bug this year, with Claude Giroux, and Kimmo Timonen being the only big...hey, wait, what's this name at the bottom?
Why look everybody, it's our favourite puckbunny banging traitor, Chris Pronger! That's right, you may have forgotten seeing as how he's inexplicitly also an NHL employee, but Chris Pronger is still an injured player and therefore factored into the CHIP calculations.
But should he?
I understand that this team stat has to use official NHL records, but surely Pronger is a special case. After all, we know he's not really coming back to the NHL, he's just holding off on a retirement that won't happen until June 2017. At the very least, shouldn't Philadelphia be split into two entries: one with Pronger, and one ignoring him? For one thing, Pronger's "cap hit" in the sense of the CHIP calculations should be $0: every dollar of Pronger's salary is replaceable by the Flyers, and has been now for years. Unlike, say, Sidney Crosby being out with the mumps, the Flyers aren't unexpectedly losing a piece of the puzzle they need to compete for the Stanley Cup. They've known since at least January 2012 that Chris Pronger wasn't coming back, and therefore can safely sign players up to the salary cap plus Pronger's salary. For all practical purposes, Pronger's salary doesn't impact the cap. Again, the LA Kings couldn't just go out and sign a long-term deal to replace Tanner Pearson: when Pearson returns to the active roster the Kings' salary "snaps back" to include the guy they replaced Pearson with, meaning they have to be in a position to return him to the minors or trade away some salary. Dion Phaneuf will certainly be back with the Leafs at some point this season. You get the drift.
Pronger isn't comparable to any of these players. The closest comparison is Bruins centre Marc Savard, who's also never expected to play again. In both cases, these players are the highest cap hit for each team. In both cases, they have been already moved to non-playing roles (Savard is rumoured to join the Ottawa '67s as a scout). In both cases, the GM isn't struggling to figure out what short term solutions he can apply to fill the gap and not leave his team in serious cap trouble when the injured player returns.
Blog author LW3H does address the "Pronger inflation"
However, as per previous seasons, any "retired" player still under contract (Savard, Pronger, Ohlund) is still included. There are also one or two slightly less "retired" players not separately identified in the bar chart above (e.g. Souray, Timonen).I didn't even think of Ohlund, who's personal CHIP is actually a higher percentage of the team CHIP than Pronger or Savard (41.5%, 33.7%, and 37.8% respectively). Timonen doesn't even top his own team's list (Pronger himself, of course, blocked that avenue off), and he's actually expected to return to the lineup for Philly's hometown tilt against the New York Rangers. Souray's 27.8% CHIP share puts him a fair bit out of this league, and the Ducks do have to face the (increasingly small) possibility he will lace up skates again. It certainly wasn't a guarantee to start the season.
Pronger? He's done. Get him off the books.