Bettman says NHL should set revenue record this season

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference before Game 1 of NHL Hockey's Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday June 15, 2022, in Denver.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference before Game 1 of NHL Hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday June 15, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

PA

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is forecasting record revenue this season, an increase he attributes to more points leading to higher ratings and more interest in the game.

Bettman during his annual state of the league address on Wednesday ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals estimated revenue will top $5.2 billion. He said he received information earlier in the afternoon indicating that this was a conservative estimate.

“We were able to stabilize the activity and get through it,” Bettman said. “That didn’t mean sometimes there weren’t challenges, didn’t mean sometimes we didn’t have to adapt. Some of you have said on occasion that we’re inventing as we go. extent, and we were, but we did what we had to do to get through it.

The league generated $4.6 billion in the last normal full season in 2018-19, before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the sport and specifically the NHL given its greater reliance on ticket revenue and other arena backdrops that weren’t possible without fans in the building or limited capabilities.

The financial increase also stems from new US media rights deals with ESPN and Turner Sports that came into effect this season. The salary cap is set to increase by $1 million to $82.5 million next season, though larger increases are likely in coming years after players finish paying off a substantial debt to owners that has accrued over the past season. over the past two years to balance hockey-related revenue 50/50.

A constant message from the league and the NHL Players’ Association has been the desire to grow the total pie for the benefit of all. Perhaps the most notable season since midway through Bettman’s first year on the job helps that effort.

An average of 6.28 goals per game was scored during the regular season, the highest rate since 1992-93.

“Everything we do, particularly around the game, and from a business perspective, is only important as long as the game is healthy on the ice, and the game is healthy on the ice,” he said. Bettman said. the competitive balance is unmatched by any of the other major leagues, and it gives us incredible runs in the regular season and it gives us playoffs that are as unpredictable as anything you can say.

Speaking hours before the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche face off in Game 1 of the first Finals in Denver since 2001, Bettman also expressed his joy and relief at a return to normal in his first Cup final speech. in person in three years.

“I’m delighted that after two and a half years things seem really normal,” he said.

HOCKEY CANADA INVESTIGATION

Bettman said the NHL was unaware of the allegations of a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by several members of the 2018 Canadian junior hockey team until Hockey Canada settled a lawsuit last month . The league launched an investigation, according to Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, which was ongoing.

“Obviously we’ve been in touch with the Players Association,” Daly said. “They have been extremely cooperative so far in facilitating and arranging interviews with each of the players on this team.”

The complainant, identified as “EM” in court records, alleged that she was repeatedly assaulted while intoxicated in a hotel room in London, Ontario, following an incident of Hockey Canada in honor of the gold medal-winning junior team. In a statement released May 26, Hockey Canada said the complainant chose not to speak to both police and Hockey Canada’s independent investigator and that the woman did not want to identify the players involved.

Several players from this team are currently playing in the NHL.

“As we conduct the investigation, we have allegations from one anonymous party against eight anonymous parties,” Bettman said. “It’s a difficult situation, but we didn’t know anything about it.”

NO CUT IN RUSSIA

Daly said the league informed the Lightning and Avalanche that players would not be allowed to win the Stanley Cup in Russia or Belarus this summer, a product of the war in Ukraine. Tampa Bay has three Russian players and Colorado has one.

“We may need a Cup trip in the future, just like we did with the pandemic,” Daly said. “But that won’t happen this summer.”

THE WORLD CUP ALWAYS POSSIBLE

Bettman and Daly said the league is still in discussions with the Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation about hosting a World Cup of Hockey in 2024. The goal is to host it in February, which causes hurdles but not enough for the NHL to seriously consider a different spot on the schedule at this time.

“It’s always a priority for us to be in February,” Daly said. We’ll see if we need any workarounds to make that happen, but we think it’s very important to the long-term success of this property to be in that time frame consistently.”

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Follow AP Hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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