SEA ISLAND, Ga. – The NHL’s board of governors dispersed from a three-hour meeting Monday evening having just discussed a number of league matters that didn’t relate to the presumed expansion to Seattle.
Yes, Tuesday – the second and final day of the board’s winter meetings – will be reserved for talk about, and a vote on, Seattle becoming the 32nd franchise. However, Monday featured discussions about the arena situation in Ottawa, the fate of another edition of the World Cup of Hockey, and next year’s cap.
With that in mind, here are three non-Seattle things we learned on Day 1:
Bettman ‘disappointed’ with Sens’ situation
In a post-meeting scrum with the media, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was asked if he was concerned with the Ottawa Senators’ arena situation.
“I would say I’m more disappointed with how this played out, but these are complicated matters,” Bettman replied.
Amid attendance woes, the Senators’ downtown arena development project is flailing in the wind. Over the past two weeks, owner Eugene Melnyk has filed aagainst his partner, John Ruddy, while a second interest group has stated they would be the development.
There’s a chance the downtown project is trashed, forcing the Senators to continue their residency at Canadian Tire Centre, which is located in the nearby suburb of Kanata. It’s not ideal, but the league doesn’t view the status quo as a terrible Plan B.
“For a whole host of reasons it would be nice (to have a downtown rink),” Bettman said. “But Mr. Melnyk has said if he has to make Canadian Tire Centre work, he can do that.”
Added deputy commissioner Bill Daly: “He’s the owner of the franchise and you have to defer to his local expertise. So, if he feels like he can make it work there long term, we’ll certainly support that.”
World Cup 2020 discussions stalled
Pumped for a sequel to the 2016 World Cup of Hockey? Well, you might want to dial it back.
The NHL and NHLPA aren’t currently engaged in talks about a fall 2020 tournament. With the clock ticking, Bettman isn’t pleased.
“For the last year and a half, two years, we’ve been anxious to anchor plans for a World Cup, but for whatever reason, the players’ association hasn’t been prepared to do that,” he said.
Of course, any business centered around an event like the World Cup is linked with negotiations over the next CBA. All-star weekend, which goes Jan. 25-26 in San Jose, appears to be the deadline the league has set for the players’ association to restart talks.
“If we’re going to do a World Cup, and do it with the planning necessary, if we don’t know (if the players’ association is interested) by the first of the year or (the) all-star (break), then there’s no sense in trying to pull off a World Cup for 2020,” Bettman said.
“They know the timeframe,” he noted later. “The puck’s in their end.”
Salary cap projected to rise again
The NHL has told its clubs to expect a salary cap of about $83 million for the 2019-20 season.
If the projection becomes reality this coming fall, the NHL will have added $3.5 million to its ceiling and, for the first time, climbed past the $80-million mark.
It’s a far cry from the first season of the cap era, where teams could spend just $39 million in 2005-06.
“I think the fact that the salary cap continues to increase means revenue’s continued to increase, which means the state of the sport and the business is very healthy, as healthy as it’s ever been,” Daly said. “And that’s good for us, that’s good for the players, I think it’s good for everybody.”
John Matisz is theScore’s National Hockey Writer. You can find him on Twitter
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