It started with a quote in a newspaper.
"It's hard to take when, as an organization, you're successful and you draft well. But then you're penalized by a cap system and you have to make choices," Senators general manager John Muckler was quoted as saying last year.
With those words, the Havlat Effect was born.
The Sens' move to trade winger Martin Havlat to the Chicago Blackhawks and the unanswered questions about whether the Sens GM was correct in his assessment of the salary cap sparked the interest of two PhD students at Carleton University's Sprott School of Business.
Sens fans John Nadeau and Norm O'Reilly got to thinking about the impact of the salary cap that was put in place in 2005 as part of the collective agreement between the NHL and its players' association.
The result of their musing was the study Salary Caps and Marquee Player Mobility: The Havlat Effect. The pair identified the reasoning behind the caps as assisting small-market teams, achieving competitive balance, allowing for economic prosperity and stability, reducing the movement of star players and increasing fan loyalty.
The early study results show an increase in volatility of marquee players. On the flipside, league parity seems to be improving. The question remains about whether the volatility is just a short-term impact of the new salary cap.
"It showed that parity was being achieved, or competitive balance, but at the cost of a lot of movement," said O'Reilly, noting that in the wake of the cap, more retirements took place, causing a surge of new players on the ice. Some other players were knocked down from the $5-million threshold.
It will require a second look at the research down the road to determine long-term trends, he said.