Fans are understandably sick of hearing about financial issues, but a couple of recent revelations bear noting.
One is that it appears that the NHL Players Association will exercise its right to have the salary cap raised to the maximum permissible level. That should push it over $50 million.
Those of you who remember commissioner Gary Bettman's assurance that the salary cap he needed to impose would keep ticket prices down might wonder about this.
Bettman could have prevented the year-long shutdown of the league by accepting a PA proposal that would have set payrolls at approximately $42 million. He refused, saying that such a figure was beyond the reach of owners. Two years later, we're at $50 million.
And if you're wondering how the cap figure can go so high, it's because revenues increased. Where did these revenue increases come from? They're almost totally the result of ticket-price increases.
And another article from Strachan, properly entitled, "Bettman's vision of NHL crumbling." A couple of quotables:
Bettman's dream of major network television was already a travesty, having suffered the ultimate embarrassment last Saturday when NBC dropped coverage of a Stanley Cup semifinal playoff game after three periods with the score tied.
There's only one person to blame for that and it's no one at NBC. It's Bettman himself, who authorized the TV deal knowing full well that NBC was contractually bound to a pre-race show for the Preakness.
Bettman had already embarrassed himself and his league with his overall network "strategy," which puts most of the games on Versus, a nondescript network that hardly anyone seems to get, despite the network's assurances to the contrary.
In 1994, after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, there existed another universal view of the game, a view that was diametrically opposite to the one held today. At that time, the NHL was seen as the league poised for stardom.
So naturally, Bettman did what he does best. He shut the league down. It was only half a year that time, but it brought the league's momentum to a screeching halt.
And it has gone downhill ever since.