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Volume 20 No. 41

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The new CBA was never going to make all of the owners of the league’s 30 teams happy, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman attained the eventual 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue that all of his bosses craved, along with gaining certain concessions from the NHL Players’ Association — including player contract term limits (seven years, eight to re-sign a player) — that a majority of them wanted.

“The support for Gary is strong,” said Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson. “Getting this deal was not an easy task. It’s a pretty important accomplishment.”

Asked if the new collective-bargaining agreement is beneficial for his big market team, Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said, “It’s a great deal for hockey. The welfare of all of the teams is important to all of us. As far as we’re concerned in Vancouver, we can make this work and be competitive. You never know: Market conditions change and things happen, but it’s a step in the right direction for the health and vitality of all the teams.”

Bettman will have his detractors, as he has in the past, but they have never gone on the record with their discontent. Don’t expect that to change.

Owners and club executives last week were reluctant to discuss in detail what the big pluses, from their perspective, in the new CBA — the clawback in the players’ share of revenue, for example — could mean for their clubs.

“There are still lots of things that need to be digested,” said general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff of the small-market Winnipeg Jets. “We’ll sit down as a group and look at our business model and see how this new deal helps everything fall into place.”

Team governors seem to agree, however, that the commissioner’s biggest gift to the owners was a 10-year term for this CBA, with opt-outs for both sides after eight years.

“The most important element to us is that it’s a long-term deal,” Molson said. “It gives us a chance to focus on our core business, hockey, for a long time without any disruptions.”

Bettman is under contract until 2016. Now that the heat from labor negotiations has ended, he should have little problem seeing the end of his current deal.