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BETTMAN CALLS FOR PATIENCE WITH CAROLINA AND PLAYER SALARIES
Published October 9, 1997
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Toronto yesterday at the Canadian Sports Media achievement awards luncheon. During his visit, Bettman discussed the state of the league with local writers. On the sparse attendance for the second Hurricanes home game: "There's no surprise here. You're dealing with a situation where the team is playing over 70 miles from its permanent home. We knew ... this would be a problem, particularly on weeknights." Bettman likened the situation to the NFL's Oilers who are experiencing attendance problems while playing in Memphis temporarily before moving to Nashville. Regarding the number of player holdouts and the increasing team payrolls, Bettman said, "You have to look at these things over time. ... We've had holdouts in prior years. It's easy to say, 'Oh my, look at this.' But if you go back over time holdouts have happened. ... The thing you have to look at over time is: Are our revenues and our salaries, our players costs, increasing about the same rate? My preference is that our revenues increase faster than the salaries, which is what's been happening for the past few years." Bettman said that he had "no news" concerning the sale of the Oilers (David Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/9). He also added that the sale of the Islanders is a "work in progress" (CP, 10/9). FAMILIAR REFRAIN: Fox Sports Net's John Walsh reported on the increase in NHL salaries, noting that they have risen "a shocking" 265% in the last six years. Walsh: "Who's to blame for these salaries? One argument says that it's the GMs' fault ... the other school of thought is that it's the players who are just too greedy ... So general managers have to adjust; now they see athletes as investments and not just talented hockey players." Flyers GM Bobby Clarke: "[W]e have a great sport to sell, but we don't know how to raise the revenues to pay the salaries that are being demanded by our players ... We're one of the high revenue teams in the league, and we're really concerned with where this is going. And we don't know ... how to put the brakes on." Kings GM Dave Taylor: "[I]t's going to be very difficult for the small markets to compete" ("Fox Sports News," FSN, 10/8).