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Volume 22 No. 18
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Bettman’s salary rose in lockout year

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman earned more than $8.8 million in salary and benefits during the lockout-abbreviated 2012-13 season, up $500,000 from the previous year, according to the league’s newly available tax filing.

Bettman’s total compensation in 2011-12, the NHL’s last full season before the lockout, was $8.3 million. Bettman’s base salary for the 2012-13 lockout season was $8,779,042. Payment defined as other compensation was $75,568.

Bettman’s salary has more than doubled over a period that has seen the league’s total revenue increase from $2.1 billion in 2003-04 to $3.6 billion for the 2013-14 season. In the lockout-canceled season of 2004-05, Bettman made $3.7 million.

The 2012-13 season linked with this latest tax filing was shortened to 48 regular-season games. The league posted $2.4 billion in revenue for that season, a year in which the league did not have an NHL Winter Classic or an All-Star Game, key revenue generators for the league.

The annual tax filing covers the NHL’s central business operations and does not include the team-level business that plays a part in setting the league’s total revenue for a season. Additionally, the filing does not include the revenue and expenses of NHL Enterprises or the NHL Network, which are not tax-exempt groups and therefore do not have the same IRS filing requirements.

The NHL declined to comment on the filing, which reported compensation for nine of the league’s top officers, including Bettman. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly made $2.98 million in 2012-13, according to the report. That’s down $280,000 from the prior year, with Daly having received a $400,000 increase in 2011-12. Chief Operating Officer John Collins saw a $500,000 decrease, to $2.33 million. Collins received $1.75 million in bonus and incentive compensation in 2011-12 that was tied to the league’s business growth.


Executive Title Compensation
Gary Bettman Commissioner $8,854,610 
Bill Daly Deputy commissioner $2,988,394 
John Collins Chief operating officer $2,334,190 
Colin Campbell Senior EVP, hockey operations $1,602,203 
Craig Harnett Chief financial officer $1,178,375 
David Zimmerman EVP, chief legal officer $855,518 
Joseph DeSousa EVP, finance $697,796 
David Proper EVP, media strategies and distribution* $694,978 
Michael Murphy SVP, hockey operations $659,008

* Proper was named EVP, business affairs in September 2013
Note: For the 12-month period ending June 30, 2013
Source: NHL tax filing

On the whole, the league posted a loss for its business of $71.9 million for the lockout-shortened season versus a loss of $3.6 million the previous season. Expenses rose from $106 million to $113 million, while revenue decreased from $102.5 million to $41.2 million.

As part of the tax filing, the NHL also listed its five highest-paid contractors. The top two were for legal services, totaling more than $16.8 million: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom at $8.9 million, and Proskauer at $7.9 million.

Among other U.S. league commissioners, Bettman’s salary stands below the compensation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was paid $44.2 million in 2012, according to that league’s most recent tax return. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, whose salary is no longer publicly available through tax filings, is believed to make more than $20 million annually.

The salary of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has never been made public, just as the salary for his predecessor, David Stern, was not disclosed.