If you’re a New York Mets fan, chances are the past few days have gotten you really excited. After years of suffering at the hands of the Wilpon family, the Mets were saved by a hero named Steve Cohen. After years of futility, there’s a glimmer of hope in Queens.
Cohen definitely brings optimism to the Mets organization, but more importantly, he also brings his deep pockets. After years of discretionary spending, Cohen said he’s not afraid to open his check book. Cohen even said in his introductory press conference, he doesn’t care about making money, only winning.
Cohen joins a very small fraternity of sports’ owners in this respect. The New Jersey Devils are represented in that group by Josh Harris and Dave Blitzer, who also own the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. Ask fans of the Devils’ and the 76ers’, and they’re likely less optimistic about their owners than Mets fans are of Steve Cohen. What’s the difference?
Do Harris and Blitzer Have Trouble Spending?
For the New Jersey Devils’ troubles, there has never been anything to indicate Harris and Blitzer do not want to spend money on upgrading the team. Yes, the Devils haven’t dealt out any huge contracts, aside from Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier’s extremely reasonable extensions, and Corey Schneider’s deal that he was recently bought out of.
Former general manager Ray Shero is more to “blame” as he weaponized the team’s own cap space as a trade chip to get assets. He wasn’t trying to save money for the sake of being cheap, but used it as a unique tool to his advantage.
Harris and Blitzer may have their own problems with the Philadelphia 76ers, but there has been nothing to suggest they let money get the best of them in New Jersey. They famously defended entering the “Mike Babcock sweepstakes,” saying that teams shouldn’t be afraid to invest in their front office. They shed considerable salary after the 2016-2017 season in what many believe a was a move to land then free agent defenseman Kyle Shattenkirk. Taylor Hall might not have gotten an extension, but was that Harris and Blitzer’s fault, or did the 2018 Hart Trophy winner want to test free agency instead?
Hockey Has A Hard Salary Cap
The reason former general manager Ray Shero weaponized the team’s cap space, is because the NHL has a very strict salary cap. Teams are willing to move mountains to accommodate cap restrictions, and are willing to pay a pretty high price. Hence why Shero tried to keep as much open as possible. Remember the trade for Marc Savard?
Steve Cohen does not have to deal with any of that. Yes, MLB has a salary cap, but it’s not a hard salary cap. That means he can go over it as long as he’s willing to deal with luxury tax penalties. With Cohen’s deep pockets, he can theoretically spend as much as he wants.
In the NHL, you cannot go over that salary cap no matter what. If you do, there are very heavy consequences, as we were taught by a little known Russian winger named Ilya Kovalchuk.
What Can Harris And Blitzer Learn From Cohen
Harris and Blitzer can make their fans excited, like Steve Cohen did. Cohen barely has the ink on the check dry and he’s already opened himself up to media availability and touts his lifelong Mets’ fandom. Meanwhile Harris and Blitzer have, in the eyes of fans at least, begun to treat the team like an investment at arm’s length.
That being said, easiest way to put fans at ease is winning. Whether the Mets or Devils ownership strategies succeed in that vein, will be something to watch for years to come.