DENVER (AP) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is projecting record revenue this season, an increase he credits to more scoring leading to higher television ratings and more interest in the game.

Bettman at his annual state of the league address Wednesday before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final estimated revenue will surpass $5.2 billion. He said he received information earlier in the afternoon indicating that was a conservative estimate.

The league generated $4.6 billion in the last normal full season in 2018-19, before the pandemic wreaked havoc on sports and more specifically the NHL given its larger reliance on ticket revenue and other arena money that was not possible with no fans in the building or limited capacities.

The financial increase also stems from new U.S. media rights deals with ESPN and Turner Sports that went into effect this season.

An average of 6.28 goals were scored each game during the regular season, the highest scoring rate since 1992-93. Bettman also expressed joy and relief at a return to normalcy in his first Cup Final address done in person in three years.

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