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Can we finally admit that the sports soap opera known as free agency might actually be more fun than most regular season games? Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing I love more than coming home after a long day at work, grabbing a brew and watching the Leafs kick the crap out of whatever team they’re facing. But there’s never a time with more juicy headlines than when your favourite players decide to all flip teams like it’s a game of musical chairs.
The NBA has mastered this, with big names literally jumping ship because they “aren’t appreciated enough”. There isn’t a more drama infused time of the season. While you’ll hear tons of “experts” telling you that players need to be more loyal and that movement is making the game imbalanced, isn’t it more fun when you get to watch the best of the best teaming up like Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Crying from Knicks fans aside, the league actually has more parity than I’ve seen since Lebron “broke it” 10 years ago. Teams that haven’t been competitive since the early 2000’s have real shots at winning the title, and there are 7-10 that the media truly believes has shot at the whole thing. This is all thanks to players taking back power from the teams and deciding that they want to play their game and not just for whoever lucked into drafting them. This means that if your team wants to keep their all NBA talent, they are forced to actually build a proper team and invest in things like medical and travel (for all those who have taken buses for 6 hours to sports tournaments you know that quality transportation is a blessing). So you can thank that league breaker LeBron James for your small market having a real shot at a title instead of being in the dog house for 20 years (sorry Phoenix).
Hockey fans might see this method as a quick fix for their struggling franchises, but WARNING this doesn’t work in the NHL. Unlike the NBA, spending a lot of money on one or two players as the Hawks have shown us, can really decimate a franchise. So don’t worry Sens fans, the fact that your team didn’t overpay for that “star winger” doesn’t mean they will be in the dog house for as long as you think. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Ovechkin, McDavid, and Patrick Kane on the same line, but I don’t think you want your average rec leaguer playing first line D because your team couldn’t afford anyone else. While I think the NHL has a “Waze” to go in making their players more marketable, the key to a successful franchise (in my humble opinion having never played hockey in my life) is to build successful depth around 1 or 2 true stars allowing teams to retain their higher-level second tier pieces. That being said, don’t discourage player movement. Just understand that free agency isn’t a miracle fix-all for a team playing the greatest sport on skates.