Gary Bettman, March 2, 2009:
This will be our fourth consecutive year of record revenue growth and, because our attendance historically increases month by month, 2008-09 also likely will be our fourth consecutive season of record attendance.
There was a story that appeared in the Globe shortly after that quote that I picked up on in which David Shoalts estimated that the NHLPA would be paying back 13% of their salaries to the NHL this year. I ran the numbers and figured that Bettman’s comments didn’t make any sense – revenues couldn’t be that high if the players were going to be paying back 13% of their salaries. Bill Daly appears to have confirmed this in the New Jersey Star Ledger yesterday:
As they compile their wish lists for the start of free agency beginning July 1, GMs will likely be facing the first decrease in the salary cap since it was instituted for the 2005-06 season.
The cap could drop by as much as $2.5 million for the 2009-10 season from its current $56.7 million figure, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. Although Daly couldn’t say, it is not inconceivable that the figure could fall to $50 million for the 2010-11 season.
“At this point, we don’t really have a good estimate of where the cap will be,” Daly wrote in an e-mail to The Star-Ledger. “If the NHLPA wants a 5 percent inflator, and we agree, the cap should be relatively ‘flat.’ If there is no inflator applied, the cap will be down $2-$2.5 million.”
People who follow this stuff more closely than me were saying that the CDN dollar didn’t make a big impact either way. If it didn’t, then I’m a little curious as to how the league went from record revenue growth in March to what seems to have become a drop in revenue of more than $100MM by May. For what it’s worth, my guess is that the NHLPA decides to go with the 5% escalator and that the salary cap is flat for next year.
As a complete aside, I’m really looking forward to see what this does to the Chicago Blackhawks. Their strength this year really seems to have been in their goaltending and the fact that they had two lines up front that could get it done offensively. With Martin Havlat and Nikolai Khabibulin both needing new contracts and the Hawks’ cap problems this year, I could easily a see a situation in which one of those areas is less of a strength next year. Neither Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews are yet dominant ES players and it would be up to them, plus whoever the Hawks replaced Havlat with to pick up the slack. In the salary cap NHL, and particularly with a declining cap, the force pulling teams towards the middle is ruthless.
From an Oilers perspective, I sure hope that the PA props up the salary cap. They’re at about $47MM for 18 guys, with no starting goaltender and no significant money other than Fernando Pisani’s coming off the cap for 2010-11, which is when fiscal Armageddon is supposed to really hit. As far as next year goes, the entire season probably rests on three things: a) who the starting goalie is and whether he’s at least at the level Roloson played at this year, b) whether some of Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson can make the leap to being ES players and c) whether the new coach can figure out how to fix the penalty kill.
Steve Tambellini has no room to do anything, unless Darryl Katz is willing to eat some contracts to create some breathing space and Katz is comfortable burying some guys like Pisani, Moreau, Staios and/or Penner in the AHL. As much as I wish it was different, I’m not overly optimistic about the chances of the 2009-10 Oilers at this point in time.
Even less tangentially related to this topic: Steve Mason posted a .939 save percentage through his first 23 games and .899 thereafter. I know he had mononucleiosis and such but that number should concern Scott Howson and Ken Hitchcock. I wonder what kind of odds I could get on “Steve Mason plays at least 10 games in the AHL in 2009-10″.
OK, there’s really no theme to any of this now: Sorry to see that Chuck Fletcher got the job in Minnesota – I was really pulling for Pierre McGuire or Doug MacLean. One of my great regrets with this site is that I never published my post mocking Pierre’s 2008 trade deadline freakout, which related to Pittsburgh trading for Marian Hossa. McGuire couldn’t believe that the Penguins were foregoing the joys of Colby Armstrong and Angelo Esposito and went absolutely nuts, comparing what Pittsburgh was doing to the Tampa Bay Big Three of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards. That never really made sense to me, as both Malkin and Crosby are, in my opinion, better than any of those guys. With the Pens about to return to the Stanley Cup finals, it’d be interesting to hear McGuire explain how he thinks that this is happening.
Update: Looking at my site history for tonight, I see I’m not the only guy thinking about this – someone ended up here from this Speeds post at Vic Ferrari’s site, which was talking about the same trade.