NHL revenue numbers 'very encouraging'

Updated: May 31, 2006, 8:42 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- NHL revenues will surpass initial projections by some $300 million, the players' association told agents during a meeting on Wednesday.

NHLPA executive director Ted Saskin met with 115 agents during a nine-hour gathering and provided good news to the player representatives. The final numbers won't be tallied until the end of June, but league-wide revenues will likely exceed $2.1 billion, easily topping the $1.8 billion estimated for this season in the new collective bargaining agreement.

"The revenue numbers, as expected, were very encouraging," agent J.P. Barry of IMG said Wednesday. "It's clear that we've had a very quick economic rebound. Hopefully it'll be a healthy market going forward."

It's great news for the players, who will not have to pay any escrow this season as salaries will have not taken more than 54 percent of revenues. In fact, there's a good chance owners will owe additional money to the players once the final figures exceed $2.1 billlion.

"Terrific news,'' agent Don Meehan said. "It's very positive in relation to our new system and our new CBA. The news that we got indicates that it's a system that works. And that's a product of all the hard work from Ted and his executive board."

The higher revenue figures also mean this year's $39 million salary cap will go up for next season, likely to between $43 million and $45 million.

Saskin and the players have contemplated changing the method for calculating the salary cap to avoid paying too much escrow in the coming years. That would mean the salary cap wouldn't rise as much next season. The NHLPA is expected to decide how to proceed on that front before the end of June.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press