Gary Bettman formally revealed the worst-kept secret in the National Hockey League.
During his Saturday afternoon press briefing at the NHL All-Star Weekend, Bettman announced the resumption of the World Cup of Hockey. Re-debuting in Toronto in September 2016, there will be an eight-team tournament with two four-team groupings. The first round will be competed under a round-robin configuration with the top two finishers in the two groups move on to a single-elimination semifinal game. The two semifinal winners will meet in a best-of-three final.
The announced teams are the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, North American Young Stars and a NHL European Select Stars.
“Our objective is to have a tournament as competitive as it can be,” said Bettman, who was joined by NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane. “Everything we’ve been focused on has been to make this a great, exciting tournament. A North American young stars team and a team of the best NHL European players from outside the big four European countries enables us to include more of the very best players in the world who might otherwise have been left out of the competition. We have concluded that this will provide the most compelling format and the most competitive and entertaining hockey with great story lines.”
Bettman stressed the World Cup would be contested under NHL rules, and that the league and Players Association would be “responsible for all commercial rights associated with the World Cup.”
Essentially, the league and the NHLPA will reap the financial rewards of operating an international hockey tournament in North America’s largest hockey city. For the league, a happier benefit to the World Cup would be the elimination of Olympic participation.
The NHL, its owners and team executives have not shied away from expressing their frustration with the Olympics, specifically their distaste for not sharing in the proceeds despite staffing international teams with the league’s best players.
Bettman claimed the league and the NHLPA has not yet held meetings about participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongyag, South Korea.
“We have had no discussions and made no decision, and this decision has no bearing on, whether we will return to the next Olympics,” Bettman said. “[It’s] something we still have to discuss.”
Do you remember the projections for salary cap after the NHL agreed to a 12-year, $5.2 billion broadcast rights deal with Canadian network Rogers?
Toss them right out the window.
Bettman estimated the 2015-16 cap ceiling will top out in the $71.7-$73 million range due to the falling Canadian dollar.
“When we gave you the rough estimate projection in December, the same estimate that I gave to the clubs, we were projecting a cap of $73 million, assuming the 5-percent increment under the collective bargaining agreement, based on the Canadian dollar at 88 cents to the U.S. dollar for the rest of the year,” Bettman said. “That would be 73 at 88. At 82 cents for the rest of the year, the cap would be 72.2, and at 80 cents, the cap would be 71.7.
“These are not in the context of a $70-million-plus cap dramatic numbers. As of Friday I think the Canadian dollar was 81 cents. Nobody can project exactly where it’s going, but the point that I’m making is you’re not going to see a dramatic difference. The cap is computed based on currency on a daily basis. It’s averaged over the season, so even as I said with an 80-cent Canadian dollar, we’re still looking at a cap of almost $72 million.”
So how would this affect teams in the US? According to the websiteNHLNumbers.com, based on a $73 million cap ceiling, the Rangers would have $1.479 million in cap space. The Devils would have $2.807 in available funds, while the Islanders would have $5.713 million. The Rangers and Islanders each have nine free agents, while the Devils have 14.
You can follow NHL writer Denis Gorman on Twitter at @DenisGorman