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Gary Bettman received $7.5 million for 2009-10 season (and why that’s a reasonable wage)

Jul 25, 2011, 4:31 PM EDT

Gary Bettman AP

If Gary Bettman was a hockey player, his 2009-10 “cap hit” would have been higher than Brian Campbell‘s controversial annual average salary. The NHL’s commissioner made $7.5 million during that span, according to the Sports Business Daily, which based those numbers on the league’s tax filing. That amount represents a four percent increase in pay for the oft-criticized executive.

His 2009-10 takeaway included a base salary of more than $5.78 million, deferred compensation of more than $877K, “other” compensation of a bit more than $826K and almost $26K in benefits, according to Fred Dreier. Bettman’s salary has reportedly more than doubled since the lockout, when he was paid $3.7 million.

That being said, league revenue ballooned from $2.1 billion to an estimated $2.9 billion. Dreier also points out that Bettman’s compensation pales in comparison to many other pro sports commissioners, with MLB’s Bud Selig leading the pack by receiving more than $18 million. (That sound you heard was many baseball fans closing their laptops in anger.)

The Sports Business Journal put together this handy guide of the top 10 highest paid NHL executives from the 2009-10 season.


(Say what you will about some of Colin Campbell’s decisions, he probably deserved to be one of the league’s highest paid executives considering all the abuse he took for his suspension/fine verdicts during the last few years.)

Obviously, a lot of people will react with disgust when they hear that Bettman made $7.5 million in 09-10 (especially since it’s logical to think he made/will make more for 10-11), but it’s not outrageous compared to other league commissioners. Bettman survived the lockout and so did the league, which means that he’ll probably be around for quite some time – but hopefully not for another lockout anytime soon.

If I were him, I’d probably take a vacation around the time the 2012 Stanley Cup is handed out, though.

  1. jerseypatriot76 - Jul 25, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    No one can stand the little weasel, but Gary B. Bettman has gotten better at his job. Now, this is also related to the fact that the game on the ice has improved and the fact that major American markets are playing for the Stanley Cup the past few seasons. To say that $7.5 mil a year is reasonable is sketchy, because who really deserves that kind of money besides Joe Yerdon and James O’Brien, but in terms of overall CEO salary these days it is comparable.

    To me, his magnum opus is the lockout. He got the fans to side more with the owners than the players. While a season was lost and that will go near the top of his resume, the league is functioning as its financial best. I have seen in my 30 years of following the NHL.

    He’s far from perfect and has made some ghastly blunders, but hockey is now returning to Winnipeg and some of those southern cities have taken to the game. Not sure what will happen in Phoenix and Long Island, but the league that so many pundits thought would be the fifth or sixth major sport in America after the 2004-05 lockout is all the way back and then some. The US TV contract with NBC/Versus is a fantastic new source of revenue for the league.

    Now Koharski making over a million, well that is way too many Boston Kremes for my tastes!

  2. skoobyfl - Jul 25, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    Brian is by far the most overpaid NHL player, Vanek a close 2nd thanks to Edmonton.

  3. sknut - Jul 25, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    If he can avoid a labor disaster next year, then he will have earned his pay. There is no question the league is more popular than ever and lets hope it stays that way.

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 26, 2011 at 12:22 AM

      thats a big “if”. check his track record, avoiding labour disasters is not Gary’s strong suit. neither is being commissioner

      • nhlbruins90 - Jul 26, 2011 at 9:41 AM

        If they have a labor dispute (which seems to be the thing to do these days) the players should have their heads examined. Never have the players and owners together enjoyed this level of success.

        If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just laugh all the way to the bank, and be grateful that there are still enough people loaded up with enough bucks to shell out $300 for three hours of (usually) good entertainment.

  4. nhlbruins90 - Jul 26, 2011 at 12:07 AM

    Bettman’s salary (like every player’s salary) is perfectly justified. He’s the CEO of a major organization, and he’s managed it well over his tenure. The league is in great shape by almost every measure.

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