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Salary cap is rising, Jets OK with it

Bettman says $71M, Chipman says bring it

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Life in the NHL is about to get more expensive but the Winnipeg Jets say they are ready for the price hike.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the league's board of governors on Monday the 2014-2015 salary cap is currently projecting to be upwards of $71 million.

The current cap is $64.3 million and the Jets have spent to just below that number at $63,347,109 according to Capgeek.

'It doesn't change our bottom line. Everything just shifts'

-- Jets chairman Mark Chipman

"It doesn't effect us. It's what we expected would occur. It's not as if these increases in revenue haven't been talked about or contemplated. There's a rising tide for sure and we're quite comfortable with where we rank in terms of revenue production," Jets chairman Mark Chipman told the Free Press. "The CBA works for our market. Under the old agreement we were precluded from revenue sharing because of where we ranked revenue-wise and that's not the case anymore. It's a very, very workable model."

Chipman says costs will rise but only because revenue is growing and the Jets are well positioned to take advantage of the extra cap space.

"It doesn't change our bottom line. Everything just shifts. Our revenue will go up and our costs could go up. They don't have to go up but that will be our decision to make at the time," said Chipman. "We're just a couple million bucks under the cap right now and as the cap creeps up next year we'll have the capacity to move up with it, if we decide to do that. We can compete. People shouldn't worry about that. A number of our players are under long- term agreements now so there isn't a need for us to go racing forward. We'll do that if there are players available that can help us."

Bettman said the moving cap is a sign of the league's financial health.

"These are preliminary estimates, it's in that range. And I said to the board there shouldn't be any issue or consternation, if that's the cap level, it's because the revenues have gone up. And that's a good thing," said Bettman. "We made a couple of adjustments to the range so there's more flexibility that clubs have. When the cap goes up, revenue sharing goes up and the system works the way it's supposed to."

Bettman addressed the soft Canadian dollar and how a league with seven teams outside of the U.S. will handle it.

"I watch it every day. It pops up on my computer screen. But that was predicted. I had seen reports weeks ago suggesting it could go down to 93 (cents). I'm not surprised, but it's something we monitor, obviously, and sometimes we do some hedging. We're not just sitting there saying, 'Oh, isn't that interesting?' We try to deal with it," he said. "Eighty eight cents -- could be. The system takes that into account because we convert to U.S. dollars to give us some consistency."

The NHL is expected to give ownership an overview today of a lawsuit brought against the league by former players on the basis of concussions suffered and how they were treated.

New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello discussed the spate of violence in last week's games and how the league will handle it.

"No one wants to see a player get hurt. The safety committee, the enforcement committee, they're doing everything they can. The responsibility has to be on the players as well. This is their game as well. They have to have respect for each other," he said. "Sooner or later somebody is going to miss a season. Maybe that fear will stop what we do see, and what liberties are taken."

The board of governors also ratified a 12-year national Canadian broadcast and multimedia rights agreement with Rogers Communications. The $5.2-billion agreement, the largest media rights deal in NHL history, begins with the 2014-15 season and runs through the 2025-26 season.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2013 D3

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