Bettman Discusses Realignment, CBA Talks During State Of The League Address
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman during his state of the league address before Game One of the Stanley Cup Final last night confirmed that "realignment will wait another year and Winnipeg will play in the Southeast Division next season before moving to the Western Conference for 2012-13," according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com. Realignment will be a "hot topic at the next few board of governors meetings, including June 21 in New York, but the lengthy discussion will more likely take place at the annual meeting in September." Bettman said, "We have a number of clubs that would like to address specific issues on realignment. All those clubs need an opportunity to be heard." Bettman hinted that if he "had to guess, part of the realignment solution might include a more balanced schedule." LeBrun noted Bettman "would not confirm it, but another reason for delaying realignment undoubtedly is to see what transpires" with the Coyotes. Bettman: "The city of Glendale stepped up and said they want the team to stay another year while they try to complete the sales process with us and will be funding the losses. Any suggestion that the league is funding this club or carrying the burden is not true. Last season, the city of Glendale did it. ... You have a city in Glendale that built the building and has invested in it and wanting the club to stay there. As long as they're prepared to carry the burden of doing this while we try to effectuate a solution, there's no reason to move" (ESPN.com, 6/1).
DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP: The AP's Greg Beacham noted Bettman "avoided comment on the possibility of putting an eighth Canadian team in Quebec City," where Quebecor Media President & CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau is "eager to land a franchise." Bettman: "I am not going to raise expectations. I'm well aware of Mr. Peladeau's interest, and that is gratifying. I am well aware there are plans to build an arena, although we have made no promise of what will happen after that. At the present time, since I don't have a franchise we're looking to relocate, and we're not planning on expanding, I don't want to get people's expectations in Quebec City raised" (AP, 6/1). When asked about reports of a group in Seattle being interested in an NHL franchise, Bettman responded, "There are no shortage of places that continue to express interest in having a team. ... We're hoping not to do relocation. You all know that we don't believe in doing that, except as a last resort. We do everything possible to avoid it, and we're not planning on expanding. The interest is flattering, but I don't want anyone in any market that doesn't have a team to get their hopes up yet" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 6/1).
OTHER LEAGUE ISSUES: Bettman yesterday indicated that he "plans to let the labor impasses in the NFL and the NBA play out before hammering out hockey's next collective bargaining agreement" with NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, who attended the commissioner's press conference. Bettman also touted the league's "roughly $3 billion in revenue through record-setting sponsorship deals and television contracts." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the league's salary cap for next season is "likely to be between $60 million and $63 million, bolstered by the new television contract" with NBC and Versus (AP, 6/1). Bettman also reiterated his "desire to make drug testing, and a tougher policy, a topic of conversation in the next" CBA talks. Fehr said, "If that's a topic we need to revisit in collective bargaining, we will." He added that he "expected talks to begin with the league sometime next winter" (ESPN.com, 6/1).