A banker and an economist spoke at the NHL's board of governors meeting yesterday, helping owners and executives assess the financial landscape.
"Nicknamed Dr. Doom and Gloom, I think, after hearing it," said Richard Peddie, chief executive of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was not so bleak, pointing to both "a lot of uncertainty" and "cautious optimism." Ticket sales and television ratings are mostly up this season, he said, but the league will monitor playoff ticket sales for an indication of possible problems.
"The economists were very forthcoming with respect to the fact they see some negative signs for the economy as a whole," Bettman said. "They don't know, and they'll be the first to tell you that. I think everybody is cautious and concerned about what may happen without knowing whether or not it will."
Yesterday's meeting, held at a luxury hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., came on the same day the NFL announced it is cutting more than 10 percent of its headquarters staff. Bettman said the NHL has not laid off staff at its headquarters, nor are there plans to do so.
"The clubs were cautious but upbeat with respect to next season," Bettman said. "We are expecting real revenue growth this year. I know some have accused me of being either Pollyannish or optimistic, this is based on a very real assessment from our clubs, in terms of how they're seeing their business as well."
Bettman said the league's salary cap will likely remain the same despite the economic downturn.
In last night's games:
* At Montreal, Robert Lang had two goals and an assist, Matt D'Agostini extended his goal-scoring streak to four games and the Canadiens beat the Calgary Flames, 4-1.
* At Nashville, defenseman Alexander Edler scored a power-play goal 24 seconds into the third period, and the Vancouver Canucks pulled out a 3-1 win over the Predators.
* At Denver, Cody McLeod scored twice, Chris Stewart added his first NHL goal and Colorado routed the Los Angeles Kings, 6-1, the Avalanche's fourth straight win at home. *