NHL to increase minimum, maximum team salaries

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The NHL salary cap will be about $44 million next season, an increase of $5 million per team, after league revenues were higher than expected in the first year following the seasonlong lockout.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players' association executive director Ted Saskin met Monday in New York and set the upper level of the cap at approximately $44 million with the minimum rising to about $28 million, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting who declined to be identified because the final figures have not been released.

Bettman returned to North Carolina on Monday night and presented
the Carolina Hurricanes with the Stanley Cup following their 3-1
victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the finals. Before
the start of the series, Bettman said he expected next season's cap
to fall in the $43 million to $44 million range.

The cap figures will be a topic Wednesday when the NHL board of governors convenes in New York. The final numbers will be
officially set once all the revenues from the 2005-06 season are
calculated by the end of June.

They are expected to be in the $2.1 billion range, significantly higher than the projected amount of $1.8 billion. The league and the union used that figure to set this season's cap at $39 million with a floor of $21.5 million.

"The previous cap wasn't miscalculated, it was a negotiated number," Bettman said before Game 1 of the finals. "It is predominantly an increase in revenues. The cap was lower than it should have been this year based on what the revenues turned out to
be, but nobody had any idea what the revenues were going to turn
out to be because nobody had ever been in the situation that we
were in.

"Revenues will be at an all-time high for this league."

The NHL just completed its first season with a salary cap system. It was the major sticking point in the lockout that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 campaign. The players' association had said it would never accept a salary cap, yet
relented last summer to get a deal done.