NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was a guest of the Washington Capitals at Saturday’s Caps Convention and after sitting on a panel and taking questions from fans, he agreed to a quick interview with CSN.
Here’s our five minutes with Bill Daly:
What led to your invitation to participate in the Caps Convention?
Between Gary [Bettman], John [Collins], Colin Campbell and I, if a club is having a fan convention and wants league participation and invite us, we feel it’s an obligation. We service the clubs. They’re our bosses and if they want a league perspective we have a responsibility to give them the league’s perspective.
There has been a lot of talk recently about NHL’s growth overseas and the possibilities of resurrecting the World Cup as a summer tournament involving NHL players. Can you talk about the IIHF conference you attended [Thursday and Friday] in Portugal?
I was the NHL’s contingent to Portugal. The International Ice Hockey Federation has two conferences a year. One is at the World [Hockey] Championships [in Belarus] and one is in the fall and it’s usually in a non-hockey location and we identified Portugal.
There are a couple reasons I went over. One, we’re trying to finalize and get signatures on our final player transfer agreement with all the countries. We really agreed last May and we just wanted to sign the forms. One of the other reasons was to address their board and talk about our excitement to be involved with them to grow the sport moving forward. I talked a little about the Olympic agreement, but it wasn’t high-level decision making.
What is the likelihood that NHL players will participate in a World Cup summer tournament?
I don’t think there’s any consideration to have a World Cup as soon as next summer, but certainly there have been talks among us and the Players’ Association and the IIHF of reviving the World Cup on a regular basis and announce a scheduled series of events. We haven’t gotten to that stage with the Players’ Association yet. We actually intend to sit down with them in the relatively near future to discuss the international calendar, but we haven’t done it to this point. It’s something that’s coming. International business expansion is a priority of the league and I think the players share our vision in that.
What are your thoughts on the league granting a Winter Classic for Washington?
I think it’s going to be very exciting. I’ve seen the development of this market as a hockey market over the last eight years and it’s been nothing short of remarkable. I view this to be a hockey town, a city that has really embraced this team in an incredible way. There’s still a lot of excitement around this team and that makes it a great venue for the Winter Classic. We’re in the nation’s capital, a great fan base and a great organization. It’s something we’re excited about.
You are now one year removed from the start of last year’s lockout. How would you characterize the league’s growth since then?
I’m certainly gratified. I didn’t really know what to expect. But by the same token I didn’t take it for granted that the fans would respond the way they did. I thought we would have to earn it and I think the way the players played on the ice and the season we had, albeit a brief one, was about as exciting as it gets and the fans came out in great numbers. Our corporate sponsors supported us without exception and we were able to put ourselves in the position where we can turn the page and we can spend the next seven years [there is a mutual opt-out in Year 8 of the 10-year agreement] growing the sport and not worrying about labor negotiations with the players again. Hopefully, that’s nine years of labor peace or longer. We’re in a productive relationship and maybe we can keep extending where we don’t have any interruptions, which is the goal.