Gary Bettman Speaks: Revenue Projections, Salary Cap Changes, Olympics, Coyotes, More

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Gary Bettman Speaks: Revenue Projections, Salary Cap Changes, Olympics, Coyotes, More

Chicago Blackhawks

It’s always a fun time when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has a microphone in front of him. At the annual NHL Board of Governors meetings this week, Bettman addressed the media and touched on a number of topics that are pertinent in the NHL, including, most notably, the financial situations the NHL finds themselves in following the past few seasons being impacted by the ongoing COVID pandemic, as well as the upcoming Olympics and the current financial situation with the Arizona Coyotes.

But first, grandpa Gary’s got jokes…


The NHL’s first and only commissioner since 1992, Bettman has overseen the NHL’s continued growth for nearly 30 years. He has also overseen three work stoppages and has fumbled many, many unfortunate situations in and around the NHL and sport of hockey, most recently the sexual assault lawsuits and investigations surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks. But yes, we are stuck with him because his bosses, the NHL owners, have made more money with Bettman at the helm than at any other point in time over the past 30 years. Yay.

Speaking of making money, Bettman addressed the Hockey-Related Revenue (HRR) the league has generated since the shutdown in March of 2020. This season is tracking, according to Bettman, to be higher than the pre-pandemic projections of that season.

Which is good news for the players in the long-run, since being able to pay back the debt owed to the owners allows the league to experience greater increases to the salary cap down the road. As it stands now, it appears the next major salary cap increase would come before the 2024-25 season.

For next season, the league expects a small, $1M increase to the salary cap from $81.5M to $82.5M. Which, while small, is still significant for some teams (the Blackhawks included) who are at or near the salary cap ceiling. Especially since the pandemic was initially expected to impact the league so much so that the NHL would see a flat-cap of $81.5M for multiple seasons.

As far as the current financial situation with the Arizona Coyotes, where they are behind by nearly 18 months of bills and unpaid taxes, Bettman says, “nothing to see here, folks.”

The team announced, in response to the report from The Atheltic’s Katie Strang, that they had paid-up and was current on their payments to the City of Glendale. But that wasn’t entirely true, according to a report from The Hockey News’ Mike Stephens, where the City Manager of Glendale says the team is only paid through the 2020-21 season, not the current one. While the Coyotes are not in danger of being locked out of their arena any longer, at least for the time being, Bettman feels the City of Glendale is not handling the situation properly.

Yeah, how dare the City of Glendale be upset over *checks notes* 17 months of missed payments. What’s their problem?

When it comes to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the plan for the NHL is still to send players to the Games in February following the NHL All-Star break in Las Vegas. Recently, players have started to express concerns for the protocols and the environment they will experience while in Beijing. We’ve already seen Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner pull his name from consideration for Team Sweden. The league never wanted to send players to the Olympics in the first place, but the NHLPA pushed hard for the return to the Olympics and the NHL is moving forward as planned, for now.

One thing that the league and Bettman says could come back and potentially take the place of the NHL sending players to the Olympics is the World Cup of Hockey. Held prior to the NHL regular season, the World Cup of Hockey has been held three times in 1996, 2004, and most recently in 2016, and is unlike other international tournaments since it is overseen by the NHL and NHLPA rather than the IIHF. As for future tournaments, that’s not currently an issue the league is discussing.

The tournament was wildly successful in its return prior to the 2016 season, and if the league, the IIHF, and the IOC continue to have a contentious relationship over sending the best Men’s players in the world to the Olympics, the biggest international tournament in the world, then the league may as well hold their own tournament, on their own terms, with the best players in the world.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.