SBD/November 30, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Realignment, Revenue Sharing Likely To Be Topics In NHL Owners' Meetings Next Week

When NHL owners meet Monday in Pebble Beach "to discuss realignment, the solution might come down to how much pain franchises are willing to endure," according to Kevin Allen of USA TODAY. Owners "must decide if they want to opt for a simple solution involving two or three teams, or embrace a comprehensive change that would tidy up several problems around the conference." What makes that challenge "complicated is that a two-thirds majority (20 of the 30 NHL teams) must agree to pass any realignment." One proposal "to be discussed is going from six divisions to four." The new divisions "would have geographic logic, such as Pacific and Mountain time zone teams lumped together and Central teams in another." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that league officials "will be guided by the sentiment they hear as owners debate whether they want a simple or complex solution." He added, "Then we will drill down from there." If owners "embrace the four-division concept, it likely would include divisional playoffs and a minimum of a home-and-home schedule against non-division teams." The "four-division concept, if passed now, would seemingly set up the NHL to add two expansion teams, although the league has no plans to expand." Allen notes it is "presumed, as a general rule, that Eastern teams like the current conference setup, and Western teams would prefer a four-division alignment" (USA TODAY, 11/30).

SHARE & SHARE ALIKE: In Chicago, Adam Jahns noted with a tentative agreement reached in the NBA lockout, the NHL’s issues "soon will come to the forefront." A season-cancelling lockout "seems unlikely, but there are still some issues that might drag out negotiations." Blackhawks VP & GM Stan Bowman said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "and his group are preparing very well for it." Bowman: "They’re going to learn something from these negotiations with the NBA. I don’t know if they’re going to necessarily translate over, but that will probably heat up as the year goes along." Jahns noted revenue sharing "should be a topic" in upcoming negotiations. Under the current CBA, players "are entitled to 56 percent-57 percent of league revenues in any year in which revenues exceed $2.7 billion." The NHL "topped that mark last season and is expected to this year." Still, Jahns noted many "believe the negotiations won’t be as volatile as they were in 2004, when the players finally agreed to a hard salary cap" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/27).
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