NHL Board of Governors notebook: League optimistic cap could rise higher next season

Kyle Bukauskas is joined by Elliotte Friedman to discuss the NHL's Board of Governors meeting and the comments from commissioner Gary Bettman on the salary cap, the World Cup of Hockey, and more.

NEW YORK — Normally, the NHL’s early-season Board of Governors meeting is a bit of a snoozer, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman unveiled a bit of a surprise by claiming there’s a chance the salary cap could jump higher than expected next season.

Last summer, teams were told to expect the cap to go up by $1M in 2023-24, then hopefully to $87.5-$88M in 2024-25 and $92M in 2025-26.

However, the commissioner indicated there’s a “good probability” the escrow balance will be paid off by the end of this season. (The escrow balance is money owed from the players to the owners because revenues dropped during the pandemic, almost entirely due to games without fans. It started at $1.1B.) 

Bettman is optimistic about revenue targets for 2022-23, saying players paying off the remaining amount is “going to be close.” If the balance is paid, the cap could go to around $86M next season. If not, the projections will revert to the previous totals.

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• The NHL released its “Comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion Report,” entitled: Accelerating Diversity and Inclusion. The project, a deep dive into the makeup of league and team offices, features seven recommendations to make hockey more diverse. Sportsnet’s Donnovan Bennett interviewed NHL Senior Executive Vice-President Kim Davis about the report. You can find their conversation here.

• There are still plans for a World Cup in February 2024, but Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly unveiled a new piece of information: that some European countries who would participate have indicated they don’t want Russian players to compete at all. This includes the idea of a team without the Russian flag, anthem or colours. 

The NHL has not made any decision, but it’s clear the message was received very clearly. 

• During his trip to Kraft Hockeyville earlier this month, Bettman said the NHL is waiting for the final report into the 2018 World Junior Gold Medal celebration in London. At the Board of Governors, he was asked if the NHL would act before the London Police announced the completion of their own renewed investigation. He indicated the league probably would reach out, but added “we don’t want to interfere with that they have to do.”

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