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BOG meetings address bleak economic future for the NHL

As the NHL Board of Governors’ meetings continue in Palm Beach, Fla., the economic forecasts being delivered to some of the league’s biggest movers and shakers is about as awful as the current realities faced by more than one-third of the NHL’s American-based franchises.

Multiple NHL sources told The Hockey News Monday that seven U.S.-based teams – the Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes – each will lose at least $5 million this season, barring lengthy and lucrative playoff runs.

“And that’s before the bad (economic) news really hits the fan,” one league executive (who requested anonymity) told THN for a story that will appear in the magazine’s upcoming People of Power and Influence edition. “I don’t think (the league) believe(s) the sky is falling, but to say there’s a fairly palpable sense of fear out there would not be an exaggeration.”

A report in Saturday’s Globe and Mail in Toronto pegged the Coyotes’ potential losses for the 2008-09 campaign at $25-35 million and questioned owner Jerry Moyes’ ability to continue as team owner. In addition, teams such as the Nashville Predators, Buffalo Sabres, and even the storied Montreal Canadiens have had the stability of their current ownership scenarios placed in doubt by published reports.

Those stories are likely to appear on a more frequent basis, another high-ranking NHL source said.

“Nobody knows how deep and agonizing the repercussions will be,” said the source, who also spoke on condition his name not be used. “But when you see or hear some of the projections being made – not just by (the NHL), but by other sports leagues and entertainment companies – there’s not a chance the NHL comes out the other side without some serious bumps and dents.

“That may mean moving a franchise or two. Or more. But nobody knows – and for now, I don’t think people want to know what the future holds, because they know whatever the case, it’s not going to be positive.”

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