Canadian TV rights deal approval, salary cap on tap for NHL board of governors

Things are going great for the NHL from a business perspective.

How great will be revealed in the next couple of days at the board of governors meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif. The board is expected to approve the league’s new television deal with Rogers and get briefed on the approximate salary cap for next season.

The $5.2-billion (US$4.9-billion), 12-year deal the NHL struck with Rogers for exclusive national TV rights in Canada needs approval from the board of governors before it goes into effect for next season. Given the financial windfall it represents for the league, there’s no real danger that it doesn’t pass.

Revenue from that contract won’t factor in until next year, but commissioner Gary Bettman said last month in Toronto that “it’s fair to say” the NHL is over the US$3.3-billion mark from the last full season.

“The preliminary data, and it’s preliminary, looks strong,” Bettman said in mid-November.

Chief operating officer John Collins recently made reference to the NHL being a $4-billion business. Even if that’s a number the league hits in the near future, the trend for the salary cap is upward – and fast.

The board of governors will get the update on the 2014-15 salary cap, which will be a substantial raise from the $64.3 million limit this season. That number is expected to be around $70 million, which means the cap gets to its pre-lockout level in the second full season after the work stoppage.

Future international competition, such as the revival of the World Cup of Hockey, could get some discussion, but that is an issue that needs to be negotiated with the Players’ Association.

The NHL’s new alignment seems to fit 32 teams better than 30 at some point, but Bettman has said there are no immediate plans for expansion.

“I don’t envision right now going through a formal expansion process,” he said. “We get expressions of interest all the time. Those are informal conversations that we have, but in terms of a formal bid process, I’m not focused on doing anything like that right now.”

The board is set to meet Monday and Tuesday.