Sunday, May 25, 2008

Salary cap to go up again

Gary Bettman made his State of the NHL news conference before the Stanley Cup final opener yesterday (Detroit beat Pittsburgh 4-0, in case you hadn't heard). In it, he said that the NHL set a record in average attendance, and also had highest-ever revenues--meaning that the salary cap will go up once again this season. From the New York Times' Slapshot blog:

We would be remiss if we didn’t once again thank our fans. We reached 21 million in attendance for the regular season for the first time ever. We averaged over 17,000 fans per game for the first time ever. And our fans, we believe, were treated to an exciting, entertaining and competitive regular season from Game No. 1 to Game 1,230. The regular season was incredibly competitive. It went down to the last day of the season to see how the playoffs were going to play out. And every game mattered. And that’s the way we think it should be.

Revenues will exceed $2.5 billion this year. That, too, is a record. Our franchises are more stable than ever. And the relationship that we have with Paul Kelly and the Players’ Association continues to grow, and it gives me hope for the future. With cooperation, I know we can explore many more upsides that are available for us to, together, grow this game.

With this news, Bettman was asked a very pressing question about the smaller-market teams; namely, how will they even meet the floor of the salary cap as it continues to rise?
Revenues are going up for virtually everybody. Revenue sharing is intended to help bridge that gap. And as revenues go up, the amount of revenue sharing goes up. The system in that regard is working the way we had anticipated that it would. And I think clubs have demonstrated that you don’t have to be at the cap or even at the mid-point to make the playoffs and be competitive.

So I’m not concerned. It may be, over time, we have to keep looking at the numbers to see if the formulas are working exactly right. But I think it should be okay.
There's also the concern that the rift between big-market teams that can spend right up to the cap, and small-market teams that have to operate on a self-specified budget, will grow. And we might very well see the economic parity that the new CBA was supposed to bring about simply become re-established when Toronto can spend $60M or something, but Carolina has set their own budget at $40M.

Anyway, given that Ottawa already has $44.676M committed with a number of players left to sign, and increasing cap is good for us. Maybe Antoine Vermette, Chris Kelly, and Andrej Meszaros can all come back...
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