The essential Europe | The Journal of Montreal


There will be another World Cup tournament. Bill Daly, Gary Bettman’s assistant, is convinced that February 2024 represents an ideal month for holding such an event. And to satisfy the bonzes of European professional hockey, preliminary rounds of qualification as well as the preliminary round of the competition, even the playoffs, will take place on the other side of the Atlantic.

News that clearly indicates that NHL executives are increasingly realizing that the European market is a must and that eventually the dollars from the TV and telecom markets will become increasingly attractive to the North American professional hockey.

“We are studying several scenarios. For now, Europeans cannot meet the eligibility requirements, simply at the level of the amphitheaters, no city meets the requirements of the National League. »

fierce competition

But Daly knows full well that time is of the essence and that the National Football League and the NBA are eyeing the lucrative market in Europe.

The competition for the sports dollar is fiercer than ever. Multibillion-dollar contracts have been negotiated in recent months by the NFL, and the NBA. MLS has signed a ten-year deal with Apple. Major League Baseball has also made strides in television rights.

And last year, the NHL entered the first phase of its agreement with American broadcasters, an agreement of $ 600 million per season.

Except that we are far from the contracts allocated to other professional sports.

Attractive market

Obviously, the European market is very interesting for professional hockey. Major centers such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Helsinki, Prague, Zurich, possibly London and Paris offer interesting prospects.

The decision to show World Cup matches in Europe is appropriate in the circumstances. It will allow European teams to evolve in front of their supporters, it will open a window on international hockey.

There is no better market research than such a competition. We will get answers to several questions.

However, there is work to be done to convince the European federations to review their management, to accept a new structure in terms of income.

The International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship would certainly lose its luster. The leagues in the different countries of Europe would surely not have the same impact as at present.

Except that NHL decision makers have no choice. It is a market that they must absolutely appropriate. They must outpace competition from other North American professional leagues.

There are still cities in the United States and Canada ready to host a National League team. We think of Quebec, Houston, Austin, perhaps even a second formation in Toronto.

On the other hand, we can no longer neglect the European market.

In the meantime, this World Cup formula will no doubt arouse high interest among fans. At least, we won’t be forced into this all-star game formula, a real waste of time in the middle of the regular schedule.

A star game that many of the league’s star players are trying to avoid, probably preferring a few days on the beach rather than attending Gary Bettman’s party.

The salary cap

The news probably made most general managers smile.

The salary cap, at $82.5 million this year, will increase significantly over the next few seasons. At first glance, league policymakers said the annual payroll increase would be $1 million per season until 2026 when players will have paid off a $1 billion debt, following a new trust account management… But according to the leaders of the league, that could change.

The league’s revenues are experiencing unexpected growth, professional hockey is attracting the attention of a younger clientele.

In short, the prospects for the future are something to delight owners.

We will not get carried away too quickly among general managers because we do not have in our hands the projections on increases for the next few years.

However, some will be able to work with more leeway. There are even decision-makers who will have the opportunity to save their jobs.

Closing gaps

So Phil Kessel has found a taker.

The Vegas Golden Knights signed him for a year for $1.5 million.

A reasonable price under the circumstances, a price that suited the executives of the Golden Knights, who never knew how to deal with the salary cap.

This team, built in an exceptional way by George McPhee, wanted to rush events with the result that the organization must now close the gaps with veterans who have reached a crossroads.

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