The annual rite of Gary Bettman getting booed as he presents the Stanley Cup has never seemed to bother the NHL commissioner. Same at this year's NHL Draft as he stepped to the podium and seemingly welcomed the exceptionally aggressive booing of the Philadelphia Flyers faithful on hand this June. Why do you think that is? Probably because he's got gold bullion plugging his ears, or whatever it is rich people use to deafen the jeers of the unwashed masses.
According to Chris Botta of Sports Business Journal, Bettman pulled took in $8.8 million in salary and benefits during the 2012-13 season, which as you may recall was shortened by the second NHL lockout in seven years. That was actually about $500,000 more than he made the previous season and $5 million more than he made during the last lockout in 2004-05. So, despite the lockout temporarily hurting business, the commissioner received a raise.
Boo all you want. He can't hear you from his ivory tower, Joe Six Pack.
It turns out that while Bettman made more, his closest execs within the league actually saw their pay decrease.
The NHL declined to comment on the filing, which reported compensation for nine of the league's top officers, including Bettman. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly made $2.98 million in 2012-13, according to the report. That's down $280,000 from the prior year, with Daly having received a $400,000 increase in 2011-12. Chief Operating Officer John Collins saw a $500,000 decrease, to $2.33 million. Collins received $1.75 million in bonus and incentive compensation in 2011-12 that was tied to the league's business growth.
On the whole, the league posted a loss for its business of $71.9 million for the lockout-shortened season versus a loss of $3.6 million the previous season. Expenses rose from $106 million to $113 million, while revenue decreased from $102.5 million to $41.2 million.
Considering how much Daly was out front and center during the lockout proceedings, that doesn't seem quite right. Those long hours during lockout negotiations didn't really pay off (though maybe they do now that the league is back on the ups). Nor does it make much sense for Collins, who has arguably helped make the NHL even more marketable in the years leading up to and following the lockout as much as anybody. A good portion of the initiatives Collins has been responsible for like the Winter Classic and Stadium Series have been wildly popular.
And the loss of money during the lockout was hardly a surprise. It was a sacrifice the NHL was willing to make. It seemed as though they've bounced back rather nicely with record revenues in 2013-14 and the possibility of topping $4 billion in revenue next season thanks in part to the new Canadian TV rights deal struck last year.
By the way, if you're wondering, if Bettman's salary was viewed as a cap hit, his $8.8 million would put him $100,000 ahead of Sidney Crosby whose contract then and now comes with an annual average of $8.7 million.
Bettman may not be popular, and presiding over two lockouts in relatively quick succession did nothing to help that, but is the NHL as a whole and as a business better off today than it was three years ago? Sure seems that way. Plus, when you're charged with running a multibillion-dollar business, you should probably expect a hefty payday.
By all means, though, boo the guy. It's part of the job he's paid so handsomely to execute.