By Chris ForsbergA few days after the season began, I sat down with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to talk about fantasy hockey.
It was the first time I’d seen Bettman since taking the job and I was expecting a lot of questions.
When the question of what to do with the NHL’s salary cap came up, Bettman wasn’t exactly pleased.
“I think I said to Gary Bettmans team right away that we’re going to have to figure out how we’re gonna make the money work,” Bettman told me.
I didn’t want to get into the details of how Bettman plans to get rid of the cap or how he plans to replace it.
But I wanted to understand how his NHL teams are performing relative to other teams in the league.
I knew that a lot had changed in the last decade and a half.
I had read some of the other drafts that had gone on, but I hadn’t heard much about Bettman’s vision for the league or the way he would manage the league’s salary-cap space.
The NHL had just spent the past year in the midst of a massive lockout, when the NHLPA announced that it would begin negotiations with the owners for the upcoming season.
Bettman knew that, in the end, there would be a number of owners who would not support his plans to raise the cap and reduce the salaries of players.
But there were also those who had made the decision to keep their jobs and who felt that the players would be better off if they had control over their own futures.
Bettmann also knew that the NHL had made some big decisions in the past few years, and some of those decisions had been unpopular.
“We have made some very difficult decisions,” Bettmans response to a question about the lockout and salary cap was telling.
He told the league that he would not negotiate for a raise or an increase in salary cap without first agreeing to some kind of “bargaining chip” that would be tied to the league budget and be used to keep certain players on the team.
“That’s what the bargaining chip is,” Bettmann said.
The bargaining chip, which would be part of the salary cap, would include a percentage of each team’s total revenue.
“It would be used for a number a things,” Bettmen told the reporters.
“One of those things would be to make sure we’re paying our players a fair wage, not just the minimum wage.
Two, to make it more equitable, to try to make the cap as small as possible, and to make all the players more attractive, which is a key goal.”
The NHL has made a number the salary-caps and it’s not even close.
Last year, the league raised the cap to $90 million from $74 million.
The league had already announced that in the coming season it would cut salaries of some of its top players.
The salary-limit increase is not going to help that, either.
Bettmans goal was to balance out the league revenue with a reduction in players’ wages.
The cap, which had already been raised from $72 million to $89 million, was now set to go to $82 million.
That meant that if the salary caps were to be lowered to the cap of $84 million by the start of the 2015-16 season, Bettmans intention was to reduce the salary for each team by approximately $5 million.
He also said that the salary limit for the 2015 NHL Draft was set at $1 million, which meant that the cap for the draft would have to go down to $70 million.
“There’s a whole lot of stuff in that,” Betties response to me about the salary limits and the salary chips was telling and, if anything, I would have expected a more aggressive response.
It also came as a shock to me when Bettman said that his goal was not to raise any players’ salaries by more than 20 percent.
“The cap is going to be adjusted to that,” he said.
“So what we’re trying to do is balance that out by taking away players’ contracts from the players that are getting them, which means that we want to balance the cap, so that we have the right amount of cap space to have a balanced league, to have the ability to play the game the way it should be played.”
Bettman explained that the league would look to create a structure that allows players to retain their existing contracts and that this would mean that the owners of teams that aren’t in the top 25 of the league in total revenue would be able to keep the cap at $82.25 million, while teams that are in the 25th or 30th will have to pay their players a little more.
The bottom line is that the goal is to balance both the revenue and the salaries.
Bettmen has made some significant changes to the salary system over the last couple of years, but there have been some bumps along the way.
The number of NHL players