PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The boo birds were out in force at the NHL draft in Philadelphia, and no one felt the brunt of their fury Friday night as much as Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Sure, each NHL team other than the hometown Flyers heard boos and epithets hurled at them during the predraft roll call — most of the venom reserved for the cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins and hated divisional foe the New York Rangers.
But Bettman faced them every time he stepped up to the microphone before all 30 picks in the first round. The only breaks he got where when he tried to placate the crowd with news of a trade made on the floor below him.
“Isn’t this supposed to be the city of brotherly love,” Bettman jokingly asked.
Boos rained down early in the night when someone at the podium congratulated the Los Angeles Kings for winning the Stanley Cup. But those turned to loud cheers when the Kings were lauded for beating the Rangers in the finals.
CAP NUMBER: The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have set the salary cap for the 2014-15 season at $69 million after a year of record revenues.
In a joint announcement Friday before the NHL draft, the sides said the cap is rising from the $64.3 million upper limit that teams operated on during the just-completed season. As stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players, clubs must maintain a minimum payroll of $51 million.
NAME CHANGE: With the No. 12 pick in the NHL draft, the Coyotes officially changed the first half of their name to Arizona from Phoenix. The club had been known as the Phoenix Coyotes since the franchise relocated from Winnipeg in 1996.
IceArizona, which bought the team last summer after it had been operated by the NHL for four years, made the name change to be all-inclusive for the state of Arizona. The club was introduced as the Arizona Coyotes when they stepped up Friday night to select left wing Brendan Perlini from Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League with the 12th pick.
The Coyotes’ uniforms will feature a new shoulder patch, and the lettering in the team logo will change for the 2014-15 season.
DESERT BUYOUT: The newly named Arizona Coyotes also made some on-ice news Friday when they bought out the contract of forward Mike Ribeiro, who had three years left on the contract he signed with the club last year.
The Coyotes had sought a playmaking center for years and appeared to have landed one when they signed Ribeiro to a four-year, $22 million contract. He was one of the top free agents on the market last year and was considered a major coup for the franchise’s new ownership group.
The 34-year-old Ribeiro showed flashes of the brilliance he had in Washington, where he played at a point-per-game pace during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. But as the season wore on, Ribeiro became less effective and struggled with personal problems.
AP Sports Writer John Marshall contributed to this report from Glendale, Arizona.
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