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Bettman fires back at IIHF for criticizing Crosby and others

May 28, 2010, 9:50 PM EDT

1-bettman.jpgAnother part of Gary Bettman’s Stanley Cup press conference today that has grabbed a bit of attention is the escalating feud between Bettman and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

In case you didn’t know, IIHF President Rene Fasel was a bit upset that players like Sidney Crosby, Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg among others decided to go home after their teams were eliminated from the NHL Playoffs instead of booking it to Germany for the World Championships. Fasel accused those players of turning their back on their country and essentially turning their back on the system that helped make them what they are. Fasel, realizing that he couldn’t see the forest for the trees ended up apologizing to Pat Brisson, Crosby’s agent, for lashing out.

Gary Bettman today showed that he’s not a guy that takes criticism of any kind of his players and product lightly.

Bettman responded with a veiled threat Friday during his annual state of the league address prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, suggesting that he’d like to speak with the NHL Players’ Association about future involvement in the tournament.

“At some point when we’re engaged on really substantive issues with the players’ association I am certain that will be on the list of things we talk about,” said Bettman.

The commissioner referred to the issue as one of his “hotspots” and got quite animated while discussing it. He feels it’s the latest in a pattern of disrespectful behaviour by the IIHF.

“I’m not happy with the way the IIHF somehow feels it has an entitlement to these great athletes who risk their careers and put themselves out of their own time without anything but love of country,” said Bettman.

Seems like a bold statement from the commissioner doesn’t it? Don’t forget, however, that Bettman is going to have this issue in particular to dangle in front of the NHLPA come Collective Bargaining Agreement time in a couple years. Russian players are adamant that they will play in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia and many players have already stated they’re going to go regardless of what happens with the CBA.

For every seeming good deed, there’s something up the commissioner’s sleeve and his standing up for the players in this case is just grandstanding come bargaining time. For what it’s worth, Fasel was wildly out of line to criticize the players he did given that more than a few of them also played in the Olympics in Vancouver, another IIHF event and asking them to do double duty after an 82 game season and playoffs is being a bit demanding.

  1. James - May 28, 2010 at 10:09 PM

    I can only assume that Bettman made those points with his patented “slightly tilted and extended head” move that he does whenever he tries to make a point. That and his overuse of emphasis on certain words.

  2. bampabear - May 29, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    Maybe Betteman could talk to the NBC and VS about the camera work. The fans do not care to see the artistic value of the faces on the bench when there is after whisle action in the corner. We don’t care to see the goalie scaking around his net when Pronger decides to take a much shorter Blackhawks player into the boards, after the whistle. We as fsns want to see the action we don’t want to watch another Progressive commercial about the cute calculator the guy is using to save money on his insurance. Come on get cameramen and directors who are really hockey fans.

  3. jamison - May 29, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    someone in pittsburgh did the numbers, and the penguins have played 303 games over the last season, including the playoffs, plus crosby played the entire olympics. i think the kid deserves a break and you cant say anything about love of country he won them a gold medal. who even pays attention to this tournament. maybe they shouldnt play it during the playoffs. and just to vent the nhl needs to ditch versus. it is like some second rate high school broadcast. and fsn pittsburgh needs to dump errey and paul steigerwald and bring back mike lange.

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