How Rogers SportsNet deal with NHL impacts Bruins

How Rogers SportsNet deal with NHL impacts Bruins
November 26, 2013, 11:30 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

A red-blooded Boston Bruins fan might wonder what all of the hullabaloo is about with the NHL agreeing to a new 12-year, $5.2 billion contract with Canadian Sports TV giant Rogers Sportsnet that hands them league television rights in Canada for the foreseeable future.

It’s a blow to the good people at TSN that have done such a marvelous job with their NHL coverage in Canada, and it will also affect the Hockey Night in Canada brand as well.

But it’s also a clear admission that the business of the NHL has never been healthier, or more robust.

“What does it say about Canada right?” said Claude Julien with a smile. “Every once in a while you’ve got to be a proud Canadian.

“It’s great for the game. We took a beating a few years ago with the lockouts and stuff, and I really think our game is growing. People are seeing it grow, and decide that they want to be even more involved. I think it’s going to benefit everybody. When you look at our game as a whole, it’s pretty entertaining. People are loving our game right now.”

None of that really affects the US hockey viewing experience with NBCSN providing all the hockey games, analysis and coverage that one could possibly want, but it still has an effect on all 30 teams in the NHL including the Bruins. Rogers is paying the NHL a $150 million down payment along with $350 million annual payments that will go directly in the pockets of the NHL teams, with the seven Canadian NHL teams getting a higher cut of the money than the US teams.

Wherever the revenue goes, it will significantly elevate the Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) that became such a talking point during last year’s lockout and ultimately lift the salary cap by at least $3 million solely based on the TV deal. That’s not even counting the big bump in revenues expected by the proliferation of outdoor event-type hockey games, the Islanders moving from Long Island to Brooklyn and franchise expansion/relocation that most expect to happen in the NHL over the next couple of seasons.

All of those things – along with the steady growth of the NHL as a business -- will pump up the NHL’s revenue number from the current $3.2 billion reached in their last full season, and lift the high water mark for team payrolls. The NHL teams won’t see the effect on the cap until after the 2014-15 season, but it will be pretty unmistakable once its factored in.

That means the Bruins will have plenty of room to accommodate the eight year contract extensions signed to Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask last summer, and room to lock up some of their younger players coming to the forefront like Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug.

Toronto Globe and Mail numbers guy James Mirtle put together a ballpark estimate based on 6 percent annual growth for the league, and estimates a $75.3 million salary cap by 2017 and a $90.3 million salary cap entering the 2020-21 season.

Tuukka Rask’s $7 million per season deal currently makes him the NHL’s highest paid goaltender along with Roberto Luongo, but it will start looking like a bargain as the contracts get “swole” for players over the next few seasons right along with the rising cap ceiling.