SBD/May 23, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Daly Says NHL Revenues For '10-11 Season Expected To Be Close To $3B

The NHL is expected to post record revenues of "very close to $3 billion" for the '10-11 season, an increase of more than $200M from the previous season, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a speech before the annual Sports Lawyers Association conference in DC on Saturday. "Business is generally good in the National Hockey League," Daly told an audience of about 500 sports lawyers. "Attendance is up. Ratings on all of our national platforms ... we're all up." He added, "In particular, we had a record year in terms of views and households. ... It looks like we are looking at another significant increase in league-wide revenue," Daly said. "Obviously, because of the HRR [Hockey Related Revenue] growth, we are projecting for this year, it appears as if our salary cap will be going up again," Daly said. The salary cap was $59.4M per team this past season and Daly projected it could be $60.5-63.5M for the '11-12 season. The actual salary cap for next season will be set at the end of June, prior to the start of free agency, Daly said. Since the new NHL CBA that ended the '04-05 lockout was signed, annual league-wide revenues have grown by about $750-800M to nearly $3B, Daly said. League-wide revenues were at about $2.7B last year. During the same time period, the NHL club salary caps have grown by more than $20M per club after starting at what Daly conceded was likely an "artificially low" $39M per club for the '05-06 season. The CBA expires in September '12 (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

FACELESS LEAGUE: ESPN's John Saunders noted the NHL "is probably having as great a playoffs as they have had in years," but the league does not "push their stars." Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom said, "This is an age old problem with hockey. ... The predominate thinking in hockey is you're supposed to be one of the guys. … The mentality is if you're really a superstar, you're humble. That's good in the locker room. Not great for marketing, and they've always had that problem in hockey." ESPN's Len Elmore said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is a protégé of the NBA and "he needs to take that playbook and take a look at how you develop these individual guys." Elmore: "You've got to develop better storylines" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 5/22).
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