The 2013-14 season will usher in normalcy. Training camp will start on time, the exhibition season will start on time and, most importantly, the regular season will start on time. Players will be discussing defensive strategies instead of court room strategies and the concern about hockey related revenue (HRR) can remain on the back burner.
Much of the conflict involved with the 2012 NHL lockout centered on HRR and the rising salary cap. The owners stated that costs were getting too high for them to properly run their businesses. The end result was a lowered salary cap with stipulations limiting player contract lengths.
While the salary cap will be adjusted to $64.3 million for 2013-14, that number has been projected to rise -- and at a steady rate -- by several outlets. If Elliotte Friedman of CBC is correct, then the lowered cap this upcoming season was akin to putting a band-aide on a broken arm.
Friedman stated on Sportsnet 590 that individuals within the league believe the salary cap could rise as high as $80 million within the next four seasons.
The salary cap is calculated based upon the league's revenues from the previous season. The revenues are multiplied by the players share of HRR (50 percent) and divided by the NHL's 30 team membership (information obtained via James Mirtle of the Globe & Mail). This number is defined as the midpoint, with the salary cap being 15 percent more than this figure and the salary floor being 15 percent below it. The NHLPA also has the ability to add a five percent inflator to the midpoint.
Of course, the issue for some teams is not the cap, but rather the floor. The floor is the bare minimum teams are required to spend on their roster. If the salary midpoint rises, it also alters the floor.
If Friedman's account is accurate, it raises questions about whether smaller market teams will be able to adapt to this drastic inflation. The Ottawa Senators are a club that immediately comes to mind considering the rumors about owner Eugene Melnyk's financial issues. If the salary cap/floor was an issue prior to the 2013 season, will four years really be enough time for clubs to rebound under the new collective bargaining agreement?
This is a question that is still a few years away from being answered.