from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
"We need to be paying out less in player costs." — Bettman, Aug. 9, 2012.
Maybe so. But who told the New Jersey Devils to overbid for winger Ilya Kovalchuk, offering a 17-year deal that was reworked to $100 million over 15 years? How could the small-market Minnesota Wild afford to sign free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to identical 13-year, $98-million deals in June?
The ink on that "get it right" labor deal hadn't dried before general managers found ways to shred it, principally with front-loaded, long-term contracts that reduced the average annual value and salary-cap hit. Another escalating factor has been the huge jump players are taking from their entry-level deals to their second contracts. That rising tide brought other boats up with it.
The seven Canadian teams, helped by their dollar's increased strength and the NHL's return to Winnipeg, continue to account for about one-third of ticket revenues in a still heavily gate-driven league. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens will always be pillars of strength, but one small downturn in the value of the Canadian dollar could create havoc.
While Bettman is fond of pointing out that the NHL has increased its revenues from $2.2 billion before the current labor agreement to $3.3 billion, he's less fond of discussing the franchise values of some unprofitable small-market teams.