PALM BEACH, Fla. — In a board of governors assembly that produced so little information, maybe probably the most intriguing factor I discovered was an merchandise that was not mentioned formally.

At least, it was to me.

I did an off-the-cuff ballot of governors over two and a half days. The query was easy: Do you prefer the thought of a play-in earlier than the Stanley Cup playoffs?

I requested 12 governors. It was a 12-0 in favor of the NHL including a play-in spherical. I couldn’t discover a single voice of dissent.

Now, I’m certain if I have been capable of canvass governors from all 32 groups, I’d discover just a few in opposition. But nonetheless: 12 governors, 12 individuals who like the thought of a play-in.

None of the governors wished to speak on the report about it as a result of they know they might endure the wrath of commissioner Gary Bettman in the event that they did.

Because Bettman stays steadfastly towards the thought. He has been very in keeping with that over the previous few years. To which, nicely, I put the query to Bettman but once more Tuesday after the two-day board of governors assembly wrapped up:

What in regards to the concept of increasing the playoffs with a play-in just like the NBA has completed?

“If you say to them, ‘Would you be open to a play-in?’ Some of them might say, ‘We can talk about it.’ We don’t get that feedback,” insisted Bettman. “People think the system we have in place right now is working extraordinarily well, and frankly there’s nothing better in sports playoffs than our first round. And so, I’m not sensing much of an appetite for change.”

Maybe it’s true that homeowners and staff executives aren’t in his ear but on this. It definitely wasn’t the time to do it in the course of the pandemic. There have been different priorities.

But the extra I hear from a few of these golf equipment, the extra I get the sense the second is coming over the following few years when a push will occur for a play-in. And the tipping level may very well be if U.S. TV companions ESPN and TNT resolve they wish to get behind the thought and put strain on Bettman to think about it.

I requested Bettman on Tuesday why he doesn’t like the thought.

“You’re looking to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” Bettman mentioned.

Another reporter requested about potential additional revenues that may very well be derived.

“I’m not sure it enhances revenues,” Bettman mentioned. “Diluting the regular season and diluting the playoffs doesn’t make much sense to me. I think having a system where half the teams make the playoffs and half don’t, I think that’s perfect.”

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of Bettman being voted in as NHL commissioner on the board of governors assembly at this very lodge.

At the time, 16 of 24 groups made the playoffs. Before that, it was 16 of 21. Which was foolish after all. Way too straightforward. But now it’s 16 of 32.

It is totally the fitting timing to debate the deserves of a play-in. The most talked-about idea would see No. 7 versus No. 10 and No. 8 versus No. 9 in every convention in best-of-three sequence, held rapidly over three days max. No journey; the upper seed will get to host all the sequence. That’s what some individuals want to see.

It would have extra groups taking part in related video games in March, no query about it.

And this idea nonetheless protects the standard 16-team playoff discipline. It’s a play-in to get into the 16.

But for any of this to see the sunshine of day, homeowners might want to begin backchanneling with the commissioner. And I’d recommend it must occur on the govt committee stage. That’s the smaller group of householders who’ve the commissioner’s ear.

League investigation

Bettman was requested in regards to the ongoing league investigation into the 2018 Canadian world junior staff, which appears to be nearing its finish.

“We still have some work to do,” Bettman mentioned. “We understand that two other investigations are still going. We have some more work to do in terms of coordinating, particularly with the Players’ Association, but I think we’re certainly in the home stretch.”

What appears evident is that the NHL doesn’t wish to intervene in any approach with the police investigation nonetheless ongoing in London, Ontario, which is to say I believe the league is delicate to the truth that asserting the findings of its investigation earlier than London police are completed with their legal investigation may very well be a problem.

Bettman was particularly requested if the league would announce its findings earlier than London police.

“That would be up to the London police. If they asked us not to make things public, we wouldn’t,” Bettman mentioned.

Salary cap

Since 2005, the custom has been that the league offers governors a sneak peek/projection for subsequent season’s wage cap at this assembly.

To that finish, it will seem that regardless of some hope again on the October assembly that the cap may leap by greater than $4 million if a sure income threshold was met this season, HRR will fall in need of that, the gamers gained’t fairly be completed paying off the escrow from the pandemic, and subsequently we’re trying possible at only a $1 million bump within the cap this summer time, to $83.5 million.

“Based on current projections, there will still be an escrow at the end of the season, and if that’s the case we will move the cap up by $1 million,” Bettman mentioned. “The budgeting projections that we have now are pretty robust — we’re anticipating having a very good season — but if we do even better, by ballpark an additional $140, $150 million, it’s conceivable the escrow will go away and then the cap will go up to in the midrange $86 (million) plus. We’ll have to see. We’re just going to watch it. Clearly, it appears that if we don’t finish paying off the escrow this year, after next year it should be all gone and there shouldn’t be any issue about that.”

The third choice can be to barter a “smoothing” of the cap escalation over the following few years with the NHLPA. The league hasn’t but been approached by the NHLPA (which is discussing it with gamers internally for now, in line with sources briefed on the matter however not licensed to talk about it publicly).

“That’s not something that we’re discussing right now,” Bettman mentioned. “It is what it is. If it’s to be changed, that’s something that obviously would have to be discussed with the Players’ Association.”

Based on what I’m listening to, I’d be shocked if the NHLPA doesn’t method the league sooner or later about it.

The different issue that would probably influence revenues negatively is a decrease Canadian greenback. The seven Canadian golf equipment have a huge effect on HRR, so a decrease Canadian greenback shouldn’t be best.

“We factored that in,” Bettman mentioned. “That was marginally, very marginally, a factor off of our initial projections, maybe in the $10 to 15 million range. Last year, we finished at about $5.4 billion, give or take — I’m rounding — which is about a half a billion more than we had projected going in. It’s one of the reasons we’re even having this discussion. We’re expecting another good year of increases in HRR. But when we stated this, there was about a billion and a half to pay off. We collectively — meaning us and the players — have done quite well by having things come back as strong as they have where it’s crystal clear that, certainly, this is going to be paid off in the not too distant future.”

The present income projections see the gamers’ debt to homeowners falling about $70 million brief by the top of the season.

Bettman revealed Tuesday that there have been no less than 12 possession events within the sale of the Senators.

“There are more than a dozen parties that have I believe signed an NDA and expressed an interest in the process,” Bettman mentioned. “The process I believe requires the data room to be open, which should be done quite soon, and they’ll probably begin a more structured process after the first of the year.”

Could Canadian Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds be concerned in a brand new Senators possession group, no matter which celebration finally ends up with the staff? That appears to be what the NHL is hoping. Bettman mentioned he and deputy commissioner Bill Daly met with Reynolds.

“Bill and I met with Ryan Reynolds, who very much impressed us,” Bettman mentioned. “If we can figure out a way to have him included, I think that would be great for the Senators and I think that would be great for the league.”

On what stood out about Reynolds:

“He’s very smart. He has a number of businesses besides the acting business, and he understands sports, and he understands promotion. I think he told us his followers on all of his platforms combined are well over 100 million. He’s somebody who is very popular and very engaged.”

As for a timeline for the sale course of, that’s nonetheless not one hundred pc clear.

“In terms of soliciting who wants to be in the process, (it’s) something that is ongoing and I think a more formal process won’t begin until after the holidays are over and people are back and focused,” Bettman mentioned.

No-trade lists

Interesting little nugget on the very finish of Daly’s media availability. I requested for an replace on the league’s need to centrally register no-trade lists in participant contracts across the league within the wake of final season’s rescinded VegasAnaheim commerce involving Evgenii Dadonov.

The league introduced in March that it will work with the NHLPA to construct a clearing home for the no-trade lists.

“We’ve already had discussions with the Players’ Association about creating a requirement that all no-trade documentation gets filed simultaneously with central registry and the Players’ Association,” Daly mentioned on the time.

But after months of forwards and backwards between the league and the NHLPA, it seems there gained’t be a joint clearing home in spite of everything. Daly mentioned Tuesday that it appears just like the league will go forward by itself, and beginning subsequent season golf equipment will share the no-trade listing info with central registry.

(Photo of Gary Bettman: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)

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