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Volume 20 No. 46
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Bettman's compensation reaches $7.5M

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s total compensation increased 4 percent during the 2009-10 season, pushing his salary plus benefits to $7.5 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, according to the league’s most recent tax filing.

For 2009-10, Bettman’s base salary was $5,787,524, other compensation $826,369, deferred compensation $877,597, and benefits $25,988.

Commissioner Gary Bettman was atop the list of 10 executives whose pay was listed on the league’s tax filing.
The NHL declined to comment on Bettman’s pay increase and the tax filing, which does not include the revenue or expenses of NHL Enterprises or the NHL Network, which are not tax exempt.

The increase represents three years of pay raises for Bettman, whose salary is still a fraction of the salaries of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig ($18.35 million) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ($10.9 million). NBA Commissioner David Stern’s salary is not reported publicly because the NBA does not claim tax-exempt status; it is believed to be more than $10 million.

Bettman’s salary has doubled since the 2004-05 lockout, when he was paid $3.7 million. Since the lockout, total revenue generated by the NHL, NHL Enterprises and member clubs has risen from $2.1 billion to $2.9 billion.

The filing reported compensation for 10 of the league’s top executives. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly saw his total pay rise 7.4 percent to just more than $2 million; Colin Campbell, senior vice president and director of hockey operations, earned $1.5 million; Craig Harnett, chief financial officer, earned $1.1 million; officiating manager Donald Koharski was paid $1.1 million. Ed Horne, former executive vice president of club services, was paid $811,573. John Collins, the NHL’s chief operating officer, saw his pay increase 35.5 percent to $1.2 million.

The filing did not include salaries for Stephen Walkom, former director of officiating, and Michael Murphy, senior vice president of hockey operations, whose salaries were listed on the 2008-09 filing.

The executive pay raise was part of a 10 percent increase in expenses for the league, which listed $83.3 million in expenses for 2009-10. Employee salaries rose 19.6 percent to $24.4 million, and team-related costs rose 16 percent to $4.5 million. Travel ($7.3 million) and officiating costs ($5.2 million) remained static.

The league’s legal costs continued to rise. In 2008-09, legal fees rose 48.6 percent to $3.94 million as the league concluded a lawsuit with Madison Square Garden over the New York Rangers’ digital rights and began bankruptcy hearings for the Phoenix Coyotes. In the 2009-10 filing, the league reported legal expenses of $2.31 million, which represents a 41 percent drop from 2008-09. However, in supplemental forms the league lists $11.01 million in legal services paid to law firms Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom ($9.0 million); Proskauer Rose LLP ($1.6 million); and Covington and Burling ($746,095). The NHL did not list expenses for independent contractors in supplemental forms for its 2008-09 filing.

Skadden represented the NHL when it acquired the Coyotes in November of 2009.

During the 2009-10 fiscal year the league collected $83.3 million in total revenue, an increase of 9.7 percent. The league grew revenue from licensing by 33 percent to $6.6 million.