NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly held their annual “State Of The Union” press conference Saturday evening in Las Vegas prior to the start of the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals. Here are the highlights from the abbreviated presser.
Bettman said the Arizona Coyotes are studying options in the Phoenix area.
Bettman was asked why he is so patient with the Coyotes situation: “It’s a terrific market, there are a lot of sports fans there, it’s a growing market, it’s one of the larger markets in N.A. and I think the club and by implications its fans have been in situations that have been unfortunate and maybe they’ve been a little bit a victim of circumstance and so if we can make something work…We’re at a stage now where the league, ownerships, our teams are strong, we are in a better position to resist moving than maybe we were 20 or 30 yrs ago and we want to make sure we explore all options at this stage of where we are before we would have to consider relocating a club and I’m hopeful we won’t have to.”
Bettman said the Senators sale process is ongoing and could take a couple more weeks. “a very good outcome in the next few weeks.”
2023-24 SALARY CAP
Bettman said the players’ escrow debt won’t be paid off by the end of the season. That likely means a $1M salary cap increase next season, with a much larger bump expected for 2024-25.
Daly said “expansion is not at the top of our priorities list” but confirms there’s interest from different parties (I would read into that Atlanta and Houston most likely).
Daly confirmed the NHL has heard directly from Salt Lake City (Utah Jazz/Ryan Smith) about their interest in having an NHL team. (Potential relocation spot for the Coyotes although Bettman doubled down on saying he hopes to find a solution in Arizona)
Heritage Classic, Oct. 29: Flames @ Oilers (Commonwealth Stadium)
Winter Classic, Jan. 1, 2024 : Vegas @ Seattle (T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners)
Stadium Series at MetLife: Devils vs Flyers (Feb. 17) & Rangers vs Islanders (Feb. 18)
Bettman: “We think we are approaching $6B in hockey related revenue for this year, that’s an estimate, we still have beans to count from the bean counters.”
- Deputy Commissioner Daly said the NHL’s independent investigator has completed their investigation into the 2018 World Junior gala and is putting together their report. It is expected early in the summer.
- Bettman said Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman have independently requested meetings with him that will be held after the Stanley Cup Final. Neither is currently eligible to return to work with a NHL team.
- Bill Daly said there’s no ongoing investigation into the Valeri Nichushkin incident in Seattle during the playoffs. “We know exactly what happened and we think it was handled appropriately.”
- Bettman said they just had a meeting with the players and the new NHLPA regime, an international, best-on-best event is a top priority for both parties.
- Bettman was asked about a 2nd team in Toronto: “The discussion takes place in your world more than it does in ours. It’s a matter of speculation, it’s a matter of putting things out there, but in terms of the interest, the reality, what’s involved, it’s not something that seems to be resonating the way other markets and other ownership requests are resonating for whatever reason or reasons”
This year’s presser was really short, as media in attendance ran out of questions very quickly. That’s rare, but considering they are in Vegas, it’s understandable.
By Jon Sorensen