Wrap-up from BOG meetings

December, 16, 2009

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The Phoenix Coyotes were once again front and center Wednesday on the second and final day of the NHL's board of governors meetings. From A to Z, the governors got to hear the whole saga.

"We did a very in-depth report on Phoenix -- how we got to where we are, where we are and where we are going," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. "And the board was extremely supportive of the efforts in that regard."

If any governor had any issues with the way the Coyotes situation had been handled, it didn't come up Wednesday.

"If your question is, was there pushback [from governors], the answer is no," said Bettman.

Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, also the chairman of the board of governors, probably summed it up best. Bettman told them the Coyotes won't cost owners anything in the end (which still seems hard to believe) and it obviously found a receptive market.

"I don't think there's any money going out from the Bruins or anybody else," said Jacobs. "Talking as a Bruin, that's the only interest we have in it, that we're not giving up any funds for it. We're happy with the way it's being handled."

As I reported last night, Bettman confirmed the league wants to give the Coyotes a full share of the revenue-sharing pie for this season, which I think will be around $10-11 million. The Coyotes don't meet the criteria for the full share, but Bettman told the governors this is a unique case.

"What was discussed was that it was a possibility and there didn't seem to be any objection in the room, although we didn't take a formal vote," said Bettman. "Obviously, the club is coming off extraordinary circumstances, circumstances that nobody had anticipated."

Meanwhile, Bettman also told the assembled media that while the league is focused on getting a deal done with the Ice Edge group, there are "two or three other groups" that have expressed interest.

"Well, we're dealing with expressions of interest, but we're not in negotiations with anyone else," Bettman said. "But we're not discouraging people to continue their efforts to express interest."

Cheat deals
Bettman reiterated to governors the league's dislike of the so-called "cheat deals" and its continued investigation of the contracts signed by Marian Hossa, Chris Pronger, Roberto Luongo and, more recently, Marc Savard -- deals the league believes (but may not be able to prove) circumvent the spirit of the collective-bargaining agreement by lowering the average cap hit with bogus years added on to the deal.

"They understand the concern about those types of contracts and they understand there are investigations ongoing," said Bettman. "But there wasn't any more detail on that because it doesn't pay to comment on an ongoing investigation. When you get to the punch line and you know what the answer is, then there's something to talk about."

To Europe we go!
NHL COO John Collins made a business presentation to the board Wednesday, and part of his address confirmed the idea of having six NHL teams open the season in Europe next season, up from four this season.

"Our anticipation is six teams playing six games, but we didn't identify the teams yet," said Bettman. Sources told me last month that the six teams were Boston, Columbus, San Jose, Phoenix, Carolina and Minnesota.

Smaller groups
The owners were split into two breakout groups in the morning: one dealing with the league's office finances (a look at the books) and the other on digital media. The latter is an area where the NHL has been aggressive and successful, and it's a side of the business many believe will continue to reap big revenues.

"There's a ton of money to be made, but it's also an unbelievable experience for the fans," said Tampa Bay Lightning owner Oren Koules, who was in that breakout group.

Buffalo Sabres part-owner Larry Quinn was in the other breakout group and enjoyed a rare glimpse at the league's office finances.

"Yeah, I thought it was pretty good," said Quinn. Adding with a laugh about getting a look at the league's books, Quinn said: "It wasn't as much as I'd liked, but we got to see some of it anyway."





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