Sundin to begin workouts in States; NHL's financial outlook could take hit

October, 23, 2008
Let's kick off the morning with yet another Mats Sundin update!

I got word through an NHL source late last night that the big Swede will start skating and training in Southern California early next week.

Where it goes from there, who knows? It'll be based on how he feels after some hard workouts. He has high expectations for his fitness level and likely won't sign with an NHL team until he feels right physically. So, in my opinion, we're talking about three to four weeks before he makes that decision.

If you want more on this, check out Tim Wharnsby in today's Globe and Mail.

Sinking Canadian dollar bad news for NHL
Sorry for a dose of reality this morning my fellow puckheads, but I can't ignore what's transpiring right now.

The Canadian dollar closed at 79.7 cents (U.S.) yesterday, its lowest since June 2005. In other words, its lowest since the NHL came out of the lockout.

We guarantee that every single NHL owner, not to mention the head offices of both the NHL and NHL Players' Association, took full notice of this Wednesday. A low Canadian dollar is bad news for owners and players alike. It means a shrinking money pie they all share from.

The six Canadian NHL teams, playing to sold-out crowds and huge TV numbers, have accounted for a significant portion of NHL revenues since the lockout (they've consistently been among the top seven or eight revenue-producing NHL teams in the last four years). And they were buoyed by a Canadian dollar that rose all the way up to par with the U.S. dollar last year.

"The Canadian teams had a massive impact, positively, because of how well we've all done," Calgary Flames president and CEO Ken Kings told last night. "The benefit of the Canadian dollar accelerated that. A little gasoline on that good fire.

"The good news is that each of the [Canadian] teams is still doing well from an attendance perspective, but this whole global economic pall is very disconcerting to us and arguably we're in a pretty resilient market. But this Canadian dollar is just a bone-crusher for us."

The Canadian dollar's surprising rise since the lockout is a huge reason the salary cap kept going up every year, because it helped inflate revenues.

Combine that the global economy is teetering with the six Canadian teams will likely see their revenues drop thanks to a lower Canadian dollar, and you can see why the NHL needs to brace itself moving forward. The $56.7 million salary cap might not necessarily go down for next season since this year's season-ticket deposits and sponsorships deals, among other things, are already in the bank, but watch out after that.

The Flames, for my money one of the NHL's best-run franchises, won't make knee-jerk reactions based on the Canadian dollar's demise.

"We have a lot of long-term contracts with a lot of guys, we have a big core of players locked up," King said. "When we made those commitments to those players and those players made those commitments to us, we didn't assume that the [Canadian] dollar was going to stay where it was forever. And we don't now assume that it's going stay where it is -- horrifically -- forever, either. You have to moderate both extremes."

Interesting times ahead, my friends.



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