SBD/April 23, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Gary Bettman Estimates NHL Salary Cap Will Increase By Nearly $6M Next Year

Bettman is encouraged by the feedback on the league's new playoff format
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday said that he estimated the salary cap next year will be in the $69-70M range, "but nothing [is] finalized on that," according to Brian Stubits of CBSSPORTS.com. While it is "not the massive jump that had been optimistically projected," it is "still a jump of nearly" $6M over this season's salary cap of $64.3M (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/22). In Winnipeg, Ken Wiebe notes Bettman was "asked for an update on the possibility of Quebec City as an expansion location and his answer was consistent with what it's been since the subject was first raised." Bettman said, "We get lots of expressions of interest -- whether it’s from Quebec City, Seattle, Las Vegas, or Kansas City -- and we’re listening, but we haven’t enacted a formal process to begin considering expansion. That’s not something we’re intent on doing right now, but we are listening" (WINNIPEG SUN, 4/23). In Calgary, Wes Gilbertson noted one concern at the NHL's latest round of GM meetings "was that the number of shootouts ... might be too high." But Bettman said, "Watch a building (during a shootout). Nobody leaves and everybody is on their feet, so it's been an exciting dimension. The only debate that we really had with the managers was, 'Are there too many?' We're going to talk about a couple of tweaks to see if we can get more games decided in four-on-four, five minute overtimes and see if that takes down the number a little bit, but the concept has been extraordinarily well-received." Bettman on Monday said that he is "feeling good about the state of hockey." He added, "The game on the ice has never been more competitive, never been more entertaining, never been faster, never been more skilled" (CALGARY SUN, 4/22). Bettman also said that he was "encouraged by the initial feedback on the league's new playoff format." Bettman: "The early returns, in terms of attendance, all the buildings are sold out. National TV ratings and I believe local TV ratings are up. We set out to do something that we thought our fans would like, and the early returns are it's working the way we had hoped" (ESPNNY.com, 4/22).

BIGGER ISN'T BETTER? Bettman said that AT&T Stadium in Arlington "could be a possibility" for an NHL game, "just don't expect it anytime soon." In Ft. Worth, Travis Brown noted the key to bringing an outdoor NHL game to AT&T Stadium "would be ticket sales." Bettman said, "I certainly wouldn't rule it out. ... Our focus will be on making sure that when we're ready to come that it would be sold out. All of our outdoor games get sold out and that's a big stadium" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/22).

A WATCHFUL EYE: In Winnipeg, Gary Lawless writes the NHL "needs to expand video review to calls other than goals and add coaches' challenges." Do it "slow and get it right." Pick one infraction then "throw some money at research, equipment and personnel." Then "tweak." Once one rule "is up and running, consider more." Referees can "call the infraction tightly and coaches can challenge." Have the reviews "done by the war room in Toronto and if the call is wrong, take the penalty off the board" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 4/23).
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