Salary Cap Hope for Hawks?

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A lot has already been written about the salary cap issues that will effect the future of the Blackhawks. As of today, the Blackhawks project to have approximately $61 million tied up in 15 players; the 2009-10 salary cap is only $56.8 million US, and the overall belief is that the NHL will actually bring its cap down next year.

What that means in real terms to the Blackhawks, and their fans, is that the team will need to┬ámove a lot of money off their projected payroll for next year. Whether it’s done during this season or over next summer, in order for the Blackhawks to put together a full roster, some notable players will not be on next year’s team. Speculation has swirled that anyone from a group including Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Cam Barker, Brent Sopel, Jack Skille, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet could be dealt to clear enough space to make next year’s roster work.

Canadian dollarNews on Wednesday from the NHL’s annual Board of Governors Meetings might actually help the Blackhawks’ case.

At the end of a day filled with meetings covering a variety of topics ranging from head shots to the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes, Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the media in Pebble Beach, CA and brought some perspective to the day’s meetings.

Bettman addressed Wednesday’s salary cap discussion at some length in his remarks, and the news had more to deal with the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar than it did the overall health of the league. There are six NHL teams in Canada that make up between 25-30 percent of the league’s revenue on an annual basis. Despite the ticket sales and overall revenues of most of the teams being down (not, obviously, in Chicago), if the Canadian dollar is strong, the cap might actually increase next year.

Increase? Bettman didn’t dismiss the idea.

This past summer, when speculation began to fly that the cap would come down for the 2010-11 season, Bettman said the assumption was that the Canadian dollar would be in the 85 cent range (in relation to the US dollar). Currently, though, the Canadian dollar is around 95 cents. According to Bettman, if the strength of the Canadian dollar stays in the neighborhood it resides in today, there is a real chance for the cap to go up next summer.

Bettman did say that the most he believes the cap would move would be around $2 million up or down, which still means the Hawks will need to move some salary off the books. But a cap going up rather than down would help the Hawks field a team much closer to this year’s team.

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