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Volume 22 No. 39
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Bettman’s NHL compensation tops $9.6 million

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman earned more than $9.6 million in salary and benefits during the league’s 2013-14 season, an increase of about $800,000 from the previous year, according to the league’s most recently released annual tax filing.

Bettman’s reported compensation includes payments defined as salary, deferred compensation, other compensation and nontaxable benefits. His base salary was $9,490,438.

Commissioner Gary Bettman
The filing covers the period of July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014. That 12-month span includes the league’s first full season back following the lockout-shortened 2012-13 NHL campaign.

Bettman’s compensation for the year that included the lockout-abbreviated season was $8,854,610. His pay during the year covering the prior, full 2011-12 season was $8.3 million, according to the tax filings for those seasons.

The NHL’s annual tax filing covers the league’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.

In the most recent tax filing, the league reported a loss of $8.47 million for its fiscal year, compared with a loss of $71.87 million for the year prior, which included the lockout-shortened season. It reported a $3.6 million annual loss prior to that, for 2011-12. While total revenue increased year-over-year from $41.16 million in 2012-13 to $124.38 million in 2013-14, expenses also increased, from $113 million to $132.8 million, respectively.

Gary Bettman Commissioner $9,617,464
Bill Daly Deputy commissioner $3,121,594
John Collins Chief operating officer $2,209,569
Colin Campbell Senior EVP, hockey operations $1,620,004
Craig Harnett Chief financial officer $1,279,276
David Zimmerman EVP, chief legal officer and general counsel $951,006
Joseph DeSousa EVP, finance $742,274
David Proper EVP, media distribution and strategy $602,922
Stephen Walkom SVP, director of officiating $547,955

* Figure includes salary, deferred compensation, other compensation and nontaxable benefits.
Note: For the 12-month period ending June 30, 2014.
Source: NHL tax filing

When including revenue from the teams, NHL Enterprises and NHL Network, the NHL in total had approximately $3.7 billion in revenue for its 2013-14 season. The league is forecasting more than $4 billion in revenue for the current season and in excess of $4.5 billion by the 2017-18 season.

The 2013-14 period featured the launch of the outdoor Stadium Series. The NHL also announced its 12-year, $4.9 billion (U.S.) Canadian media rights deal with Rogers Communications in October 2013, though that deal did not take effect until the start of the 2014-15 season.

The NHL declined to comment on the filing.

The league employed 669 people during the reported fiscal year, up from 644 the previous year. A number of its other key executives in addition to Bettman saw increases in compensation as well.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly saw his compensation increase to $3.1 million in 2013-14, up from $2.98 million during the previous year. Chief Financial Officer Craig Harnett’s compensation increased roughly $100,000, to $1.2 million.

Chief Operating Officer John Collins saw an increase in base compensation from $859,258 to $1.4 million, but he received less in bonus and incentive compensation that was tied to the league’s business growth; his total compensation was $2.2 million in 2013-14, compared with $2.3 million in the previous year — which is when the league signed its 10-year, $2 billion rights deal with NBC Sports Group.

Stephen Walkom, who rejoined the league as a senior vice president and director of officiating in August 2013, earned $547,955 in total compensation.

The league also reported its five highest-paid contractors, four of which provided legal services. Skadden Arps was compensated $13.3 million for work it did for the NHL, while Proskauer, Covington & Burling, and Blake, Cassels & Graydon were compensated a combined $5.2 million. Ernest & Young was the fifth-highest-compensated league contractor, at $693,464.

The NHL is the lone North American major professional sports league that continues to hold tax-exempt status. The NFL dropped its tax-exempt status earlier this year; MLB ended its tax-exempt status in 2007. The NBA and MLS have not previously held tax-exempt status that would make similar tax filings available for them.