Self-writing joke: NHL sees legal costs and Bettman's salary climb to new heights

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garybettman3.jpgWe all know that the NHL is one of the more curious professional sports leagues to keep track of when it comes to how they spend their money, where it goes and who is getting what. After all, they’re penciled in as the #4 sport when compared with the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. The Sports Business Journal’s Tripp Mickle today discussed the NHL’s 2008-2009 tax filing showing where the NHL saw their expenses going during that season.

The NHL’s legal costs climbed 48.6 percent during the 2008-09 season, according to its most recent tax filing.

The filing shows the NHL’s legal fees climbed to $3.94 million that season. The NHL declined to comment on the filing, and it remains unclear what contributed to the cost increase.

The tax filings cover the fiscal year July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, a period that saw the NHL conclude a lawsuit with Madison Square Garden over the New York Rangers’ digital rights and begin a bankruptcy trial over the Phoenix Coyotes.

If the league saw their fees increase in a year where the only thing they were really up to was fighting with the New York Rangers over their website, it should be fun to see what happens when the report comes out about what they spent taking BlackBerry guru Jim Balsillie and deposed Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes to court over trying to sell and move the Coyotes out of Arizona.

The other fun note from the league’s taxes is what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is now being paid to run the league. Get your jokes ready kids.

Commissioner Gary Bettman saw his total compensation increase 1.7 percent to $7.23 million in 2008-09. His base compensation totaled $5,529,491 million, other compensation $956,515, deferred compensation $700,000 and benefits $44,777.

The package continues the escalation of Bettman’s compensation, which has nearly doubled from his pre-lockout compensation of $3.77 million. During that same period, the league saw its revenue increase from $2.2 billion to more than $2.6 billion.

The fun part here is that now every average NHL player has a minimum number to want to ask for. After all, if the commissioner can be average at his job and make $7.23 million, a fourth-line grinder should too, right? I’m not going to be the guy to come out and yell about anyone’s salary but I think if my name was Gob Bluth from Arrested Development my only reaction would be, “COME ON!”

As for a list NHL players that will  make more next season than Commissioner Bettman, buckle up. Note, these numbers are what they’ll actually make next year, not what their cap hit is. As always, thanks to CapGeek.com for keeping track of all this information.

Zdeno Chara – $7.5 million

Eric Staal – $7.5 million

Duncan Keith – $8 million

Marian Hossa – $7.9 million

Rick Nash – $7.5 million

Brad Richards – $7.8 million

Henrik Zetterberg – $7.75 million

Scott Gomez – $8 million

Chris Drury – $8 million

Henrik Lundqvist – $7.75 million

Marian Gaborik – $7.5 million

Jason Spezza – $8 million

Chris Pronger – $7.6 million

Evgeni Malkin – $9 million

Sidney Crosby – $9 million

Dany Heatley – $8 million

Vincent Lecavalier – $10 million

Alexander Ovechkin – $9 million

That’s it. 18 players make more than the league commissioner. It may very well become 19 players if/when Ilya Kovalchuk signs on with someone, so this is subject to slight change. All this tells us, though, is that it’s good to be the king.

The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)

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Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime

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After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.

Wow.

With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.

Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

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Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.

Video: Draisaitl, Slepyshev score on breakaways, Talbot spurns Marleau

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Some playoff games or even series come down to something as stupidly simple as one team taking advantage of their opportunities while the other fails to capitalize on chances.

If Game 6 of the Oilers – Sharks series follows the story of the second period, then San Jose may join Saturday’s stream of eliminated teams.

It’s not fair to boil it down to three breakaways, but some might feel that way.

Leon Draisaitl looked like a gritty, strong veteran during his first career playoff goal, bulling his way to the net for 1-0 breakaway tally. About a minute later, Anton Slepyshev was even more alone against Martin Jones, and he scored his first postseason goal to make it 2-0.

That stings for the Sharks, and it doesn’t help that they had a similar chance not long after. This time around, Patrick Marleau couldn’t beat Cam Talbot, so it remained 2-0 for Edmonton.

That’s the same score as the game enters the third period, even with some dangerous late chances for the Sharks.

If the Sharks don’t score at least two goals in the third, their push to return to the Stanley Cup Final could end in the first round.