NHL Players Missing in Latest Top 100 Highest-Paid Athlete Rankings

Gary Bettman, NHL (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Gary Bettman, NHL (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The National Hockey League is turning things around. The league has a new franchise, the Seattle Kraken, and has announced an increase in the salary cap over the next couple of years. Things are going well, correct? Well, maybe not as well as you might think, and according to sportico.com rankings, the NHL does not have a representative, including Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, in the top 100 highest-paid athletes of 2022.

The NHL has not been one of the major sports in a while. Although it is the fastest and hardest-hitting of all sports, it cannot seem to reach the top. The NHL does not lack talent or dedicated fans, but it lacks something. Something that would leave the NHL overtaking the other sports to be at the top. The economy plays a big part in this, however, is this just an NHL issue?

Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers is bringing in $36.9 million per season. Soccer players Lionel Messi $72 million, Cristiano Ronaldo $60 million, Neymar $65 million. Boxer Canelo Alvarez is the most at $84 million are the top five athletes bringing in the most per season. Not one hockey player is represented in the top 100, according to sportico.com. Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid is the highest paid in the NHL at $12.5 million. The $12.5 million made by McDavid sits well behind Alvarez’s $84 million.

The NHL and NBA play the same number of games, 82, on their schedule but Lebron James, the highest-paid NBA player, gets paid three times as much as Connor McDavid, the highest-paid NHL player. Why? Marketing, promotions, and television deals. The NHL makes one-third of the revenue that the NBA makes because the league fails to market its game. That has been this way for a while now, as players like McDavid, Auston Matthews, Igor Shesterkin, and many others are players to grow the game around and market for more revenue.

Hockey is a tremendous game. The talent, the speed, and the history make the game great. However, the things with revenue need to change if the league wants to be the top sport financially. More promotion, more advertising, and more about the players that drive this sport.

So, what are some ways the league can get more recognition for the players? Make them more available. One way is to market them more, putting top names in commercials for upcoming games or hockey products. Another way is for them to showcase themselves, and let the players be the players. The NFL and NBA allow players to promote themselves and they get good revenue from that. Another way could be to allow the top players in the league to appear at public signings, sports card shows, and team-associated events.

In terms of league finances, the NHL sits sixth in most profitable sports by revenue, according to apsportseditors.org. The top five are the NFL ($13 billion), MLB ($10 billion), NBA ($7.4 billion), Cricket ($6.3 billion), the English Premier League ($5.3 billion), and the NHL is just below the last figure at $4.43 billion. The NHL currently generates revenue from television deals, concessions, gate receipts, and royalties from licensing.

How can the NHL improve financially? What does the NHL need to do to compete with the other sports and how do they change this financially? One move forward could be relocation instead of expansion. The Arizona Coyotes have been previously discussed with relocation to Houston, Texas.  With the Coyotes now playing in Tempe, Arizona over the next few seasons that move is put on hold but not out of the possibility for the future.

Another possibility could be to lower ticket prices so more fans can attend. The price for a family of four to attend an NHL game is absurd nowadays. This is why most buildings no longer sell out because fans cannot simply afford to go. Another source of revenue could be selling jerseys. Teams will occasionally wear special jerseys in warmups to commemorate a special event or a tribute. Those jerseys could be sold at an auction after the game.

Some possibilities for the NHL to figure out how to go above and beyond in the financial aspect of the league. The league is not so far in trouble with revenue that they cannot find ways to bring in more money.