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Bettman defends outdoor game plan, addresses relocation speculation

Sep 27, 2013, 12:59 PM EDT

Gary Bettman

Since its inception, the Winter Classic has quickly become the biggest regular season event on the NHL calender. The NHL will expand upon that with the Stadium Series and Heritage Classic, bringing the total number of outdoor NHL games in 2014 to six.

That’s led to concerns that the concept of an outdoor game might grow stale, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman thinks otherwise.

“First of all, it’s six games out of twelve hundred and thirty regular season games,” Bettman said, according to LA Kings Insider. “Two, when you go to one of these games, if you haven’t been to one and you see what’s here, the reaction of the fans, the intensity, the emotion, the excitement is off the charts, and what we’re hearing from our fans and from our clubs and from the markets in which we play is they can’t get enough of these.”

Bettman also pointed out that franchises don’t want to have to wait a decade or more between outdoor games, not to mention the teams that haven’t gotten an opportunity to participate in one yet. That includes the contest between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 25. If all goes well in that game, then it could be the first of many outdoor contests in nontraditional hockey markets.

Of course, that’s not the only hot-button issue in the NHL right now. There’s also been growing speculation about the possibility that the league will expand in the near future. Two strong candidates seem to be Seattle and Quebec City.

“It’s great to know that there’s lots of interest in having teams in places where there aren’t,” Bettman said. “But as we stand here today, it’s nothing we’re pursuing right now in any sort of organized way.”

Markham has also been brought up as a potential site for relocation in the future as there is a push to build an NHL-caliber arena there. But could the Toronto Maple Leafs theoretically veto Markham getting a team? Bettman said it would come down to a majority vote.

  1. swenny19 - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    If they added Quebec and Seattle teams, who is going to want to go back to the West to make things even? Columbus and Detroit seem pretty happy in their own time zone…

    • avfanforlife - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      I say move Detroit back west – just to piss em off! Go AV’s !!

    • tmoore4075 - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      Those are the two most likely expansion locations so yeah who goes West is a big question. As a Detroit fan I’d hate to go back West but if the alignment, schedule and playoffs are like they originally planned in December of 2011 then it wouldn’t be terrible. Most games would be in Central or Eastern and playoff games would only be in division.

  2. avfanforlife - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Coors Field. ’nuff said.

  3. amityvillefun - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Is there a single NHL fan that actually likes this guy?

    After the last lockout, I was hoping he would step down. He gets booed everywhere he goes….

    Take the hint, Gary. Walk off into the sunset. Buh-bye.

    • imleftcoast - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      That’s the shame of it. Bettman is the worst kind of attorney. He could give a crap about his client, and everything is about his ego.

      Because the game is so good, we fans stick around despite what is obviously completely incompetent ownership for a number of franchises, a joke of disciplinary system that is so fraught with favoritism that a team like the Sabres has to attack a favorite like the Leafs, and a Commissioner who makes a mockery of the sport by playing it outside in 80 degrees and holds the Olympics hostage who arm wrestling more for himself. It’s embarrassing to have to defend being a fan despite this dog and pony show.

      • ibieiniid - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        “He could give a crap about his client”
        I gotta disagree. I hate Bettman as much as the next guy…. but we aren’t his client. The owners are his client. We learned this much during the lockout. The commish isn’t there for us, he’s there for the owners. Fehr is there for the players. Sadly, we don’t have an attorney….. ::grumble:: or we wouldn’t be paying 11 f’ing bucks for a goddamn beer.

      • imleftcoast - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        Commissioner implies he works for the better of the game. The owners benefit from the long-term health of the game. If he’s working at odds with the players, I don’t see that as benefitting the owners. You’re right that the owners would probably unanimously agree that his client is exclusively the owners.

      • ibieiniid - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        lol implication is waaaaay different than application. just because he’s got the label of “commissioner” doesn’t mean he’s always working strictly for the game of hockey. I don’t see how you can have that stance after the events of the lockout. If I remember correctly, you followed it as close as I did and commented on this site throughout. Is that right? He pretty clearly wasn’t working for the players. Was working at odds with them…. to benefit the owners. That was just a far exaggerated version of what he does every day.

    • joey4id - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      Hey! He isn’t going anywhere as long as the owners like him and the financial results are written with lack ink. You think they care about what fans think about GB? Think again.

      • ibieiniid - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        damnit you beat me to two comments on this post. didn’t see this one, or your original text right below this one.

      • joey4id - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        Lol! I’ll be a couple of hours behind you next week because I’ll be back at work. :-)

      • badintent - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:13 PM

        He does care about the owners. The American owners. The ones that will be holding a Stanley Cup again. And again. Forever.

    • badintent - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      Like you are gonna walk away from $20 million a year ? Right. No more Madog20/20 for ya.

  4. joey4id - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    Not a huge fan of these games aside from the fact that the games involve two rivalry teams, and you typically get to see a good game. However, the demand by fans and advertisers is there, so may as well fuel the demand while they can make some bucks and gain exposure. Certainly better than the all star game.

  5. ibieiniid - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    “and from the markets in which we play”

    translation: outdoor games sell the hell out of some tickets/jerseys/advertisements.

    • amityvillefun - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      Gary “It’s all about the money” Bettman.

      “We have the greatest fans.”

      Translation: “Thank God the product is so good so we can pork you for every last $$$$ we can.”

  6. bcsteele - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Bettman…I still hate you. Shut up and go away.

  7. pizzaman77 - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Still interesting to see how the LA vs Anaheim will work out considering neither are known to be cold cities..

    • ethanmacleod1685 - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Which is why they should have replaced Anaheim with San Jose, and host it at AT&T arena in San Francisco. It’s cold enough there in the winter

      • ethanmacleod1685 - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:29 PM

        And it’s a better matchup

  8. tmoore4075 - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    While I think it’s too many games, as people have said, they make money. So they are going to take it while they can. He does make a point about teams wanting to be involved, and I can’t blame those teams for wanting it, so this is good for the individual teams and their markets. It might make the outdoor games go away faster when people get sick of them but again…get the money while you can.

    • ibieiniid - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      I’m concerned that I agree with Gary on something….

      His part about fans AT the games. I’ve been pleading that case since they announced this series. It takes away from the uniqueness of the WClassic, sure, but with that many games around the country, more people get to experience an outdoor NHL game. I, for one, am waiting for the one in DC next year. Must go…. I don’t care how many games there are outside next year, I would still pay to go to the one near me. And that’s exactly why it makes sense to have so many of these events. Is it a money grab by the league? Yeah….. But nobody can say there’s 0 benefit for the fans.

  9. pwt3 - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Adding two teams would be a disaster. Move two teams out of their horrible southern US locations. Phoenix and either Florida or Tampa.

    • ibieiniid - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:29 PM


  10. allday420ap - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Give the people what they want. Wild hosting at target field, in a real winter.

    • noozdude2005 - Sep 28, 2013 at 3:49 AM

      Next year.

  11. ejbigg - Sep 27, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    I still disagree with Bettman on pretty much everything hockey related, but I do appreciate the NHL and specifically Bettman addressing questions and speculation from the fans and media. I think Shanahan should follow suit and give us more than those bogus player safety videos.

  12. canucks30 - Sep 27, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Gary Bettman.

    Proudly trolling hockey fans since 1993.

  13. noozdude2005 - Sep 28, 2013 at 3:48 AM

    It’s ridiculous. According to StubHub, the least expensive ticket for the MIghty Ducks vs Kings game at Dodger Stadium on 1/25/2014 is $182. Seriously? Ridiculous. How are you supposed to enjoy it at prices like that?

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