Board of Governors under way

December, 15, 2009

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The NHL's board of governors meeting is under way here at the posh resort where $600 gets you a room.

So much for belt-tightening by the owners after a year full of economic crisis.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was expected to kick things off Tuesday evening with his annual league business overview address. He was to be followed by director of hockey operations Colin Campbell's speech on the state of the game (on-ice) with an update on the league's plans to possibly crack down on blindside hits. That won't get decided until GMs meet again in March.

The potential sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to the Ice Edge group was likely to be touched on by Bettman on Tuesday although the full update was slated for Wednesday when "franchise matters" were on the agenda.

Here's an angle I hadn't thought of with the Coyotes. One NHL governor, who requested anonymity, said he was curious to find out what slice of the pie the once-bankrupt Coyotes would get from this year's revenue-sharing formula.

"If they get handed a full share, there's going to be some grumbling," said the governor.

There are certain criteria that teams have to meet to get their full share of revenue sharing and depending on what targets they hit or don't hit, their share dwindles from 100 percent to 75 percent, to 60 percent to a minimum of 50 percent.

"The most obvious criteria the Coyotes can't possibly reach is the 14,000 average attendance per game," said the governor. "But the rumor is that the league will want to make the Coyotes whole for the purpose of revenue sharing. People wouldn't be happy with that."

Isles Update: No news on the New York Islanders front, owner Charles Wang told us before the board of governors meeting Tuesday. The Lighthouse Project, which would build the team a new arena, remains in limbo.

"Still waiting for the town to decide," Wang said.

Asked whether the plan could still keep the Islanders on Long Island, Wang said: "Yeah, I hope so. Whatever happens, happens."

Meanwhile, there's a new arena that's going to be built in Brooklyn for the NBA's Nets and reports have linked the Islanders to a possible move there.

"I don't want to do this in the press," Wang said when asked about Brooklyn. "You understand."

Ward Clears Waivers: Defenseman Aaron Ward cleared NHL waivers Tuesday.

The Carolina Hurricanes were hoping to shed his $2.5 million salary. He's an unrestricted free agent July 1.

My guess is that some NHL teams could use Ward's services but are hoping the Hurricanes will put him on re-entry waivers in order to get him at half of the price. That's what the club did with goalie Michael Leighton, who was claimed by Philadelphia earlier Tuesday.

But a Hurricanes source said it was doubtful the team would put Ward on re-entry. The last-place team has been trying to trade him for a few weeks.

Daly Departs: The agenda for the two-day meetings had to be shuffled a bit to accommodate the sudden departure of NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who went back home to New York on Tuesday due to a family medical emergency. Daly had several addresses planned for the board, although it was expected Bettman would take over most of them in his absence.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer




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