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Bettman calls 2014 Winter Classic ‘everything we hoped for’

Jan 1, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

bettmaninthecoldgetty Getty Images

With an enormous crowd on hand at Ann Arbor’s Big House, the 2014 Winter Classic was a huge success for the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and NHL on a whole. Commissioner Gary Bettman wasn’t shy about singing the event’s praises.

“The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was everything we hoped for — the biggest and best New Year’s Day party in our history,” Bettman said in a press release. “The Red Wings and Maple Leafs gave our fans, here at ‘The Big House’ and all around the hockey world, a spectacular afternoon …”

While the Big House is known for the University of Michigan’s packed football games, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock pulled out a baseball metaphor to rave about the outdoor game.

“To me, today was a home run for hockey,” Babcock said.

Hey, a home run has a better ring to it than a touchdown or a “pick-six,” anyway …

  1. steelers88 - Jan 1, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    Sucks that his going to ruin it by scheduling so many outdoor games.

    • joey4id - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:42 PM

      You know what, since becoming commissioner he hasn’t screwed up all that much. Hockey has never been as popular as it is today. Just appreciate the fact that we get to see the best players in world play in the NHL.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:16 PM

        Only two shortened seasons and a lost one on his watch. Do I even want to know what your version of “screwing up royally” would be?

      • joey4id - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:34 PM

        Two ways to look at this; 1) from a business perspective 2) from a fan’s perspective who unfortunately can’t see it from any other perspective

        1) league revenue increased from 400 million to 3.5 billion since he became commissioner

        2) 2 shortened season and a cancelled season.

        Since the NHL is a business, and we are evaluating the commissioner who’s primary objective is to increase profits, then it’s safe to that based on that he has done very well.

        Hardly a royal screw up. I assume you’re one who can’t see the biz side.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:45 PM

        I most certainly can. It’s just hard not to lament the cost to the fans that that profit increase has come at. There are numerous aspects of the game, some significant and some not, that I think have been compromised for those profits.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:47 PM

        I guess what I’m saying is that it’s hard to uphold profits as an absolute marker of success when they come from selling, what I feel, is now a sub-par product.

      • joey4id - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:50 PM

        Based on your last comment then, it doesn’t sound like a royal screw up.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:55 PM

        I was implying that Bettman sits somewhere between “not screwing up that much” and “screwing up royally.” I guess it could’ve been written better, but that’s neither here nor there.

      • joey4id - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:59 PM

        Excellent point about the quality of the product. Many of the rule changes made in the past 8 or so years are coming back to bite them. The removed the red line to make the game faster. For every action there is a reaction. Removing the red line became the genesis for the chip & chase which degrades the quality of the product. I blame the coaches for that. They are taking some creativity away from the players. The stretch pass is now almost solely used to chip and chase the puck. Perhaps they should consider re-instituting the red line. This would be a good place to start.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 1, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        Exactly. Other minor things, like the puck-over-glass penalty and the trapezoid, also really bother me. Then of course there’s the shootout…but that’s a whole other discussion.

      • blomfeld - Jan 1, 2014 at 11:00 PM

        YOU TELL ‘EM JOEY !!!

        or perhaps I can do it with a musical offering eh ?

        BETTMAN ROCKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  2. imleftcoast - Jan 1, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    Dodger Stadium has no potential to be more than a bunt single.

    • charlieconway96 - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:33 PM

      I was thinking it might be more like an intentional walk.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:44 PM

        I think if it doesn’t rain, the fans there will probably love it, and even most of us who agree there should be fewer such outdoor games will likely tune in on TV for at least some of it.

  3. hallforpresident - Jan 1, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    2 or even 3 games I can live with. But 6?!?! Come on Bettman…

  4. wills19 - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Yes, Bettman the money was everything you hoped for

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:33 PM

      I can understand your cynicism, but try to bear in mind that while hockey is a sport, the NHL, of which he is the top executive, is a business. He’d not have lasted this long if at least one of his key goals wasn’t making as much money for his business as possible. I’ve no reason to think he didn’t also enjoy the game today.

  5. csilojohnson - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    Great game.
    I kind of feel the same way about too many outdoor games will dilute the excitement. Ultimately Bettman is only making it easier for us to attend an outdoor game by having so many.
    Whether that ruins it or not is a choice everyone is free to make.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:38 PM

      I agree csilo, and I suspect the crowds at each individual game will have a blast, weather permitting. Each event will be judged individually by local fans, while some of us lament the sum total. It’s a bit like millions of Americans saying they like their own Member of Congress and want her or him re-elected, while looking at Congress as a whole and barfing.

  6. stratomaticfan - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    A perfectly good game ruined once again by the shootout. I wonder how many casual fans looked up and said “Why in the world are did they stop playing and start a skills competition?” Imagine if baseball played 1 extra inning and then had a HR hitting contest to get a winner. Or the NBA had 1 OT period and then had a 3 point shooting contest to declare a winner. The whole thing is asinine.

    • joey4id - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:36 PM

      What do you suggest they do?

      • stratomaticfan - Jan 1, 2014 at 11:40 PM

        Get rid of shootouts. Play a full OT period. Not reward teams for “not winning” with points.

    • joey4id - Jan 2, 2014 at 6:01 AM

      What effect will playing a full period have on the team’s travel when they have to play 2 games in 24 hours? What happens next if the score is still tied after a full period?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 2, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        What about a 10-minute OT period and a point-system adjustment? Three for a regulation win, two for an OT win, and one for a SO win (or something like that as I’m not sure how you allocate points to the OT or SO loser in that scenario).

      • joey4id - Jan 2, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        Let me preface this by first stating that getting rid of ties should increase the level of competitiveness especially during non divisional & conference games. Coaches have played for a tie rather than risking zero points when playing non conference teams. It would be nice to play regulation hockey until a winner is determined. However, this is likely not to happen under the current business model and economic needs of the teams. Maybe it is time to move to a point system that will not award points for a tie. This provides incentive for teams to win during regulation time as opposed to playing for a tie in the last minutes of the third period to secure at least one point. The one problem I see with this, and not that I disagree, I believe the custodians of the game (Gms, NHL brass, Governors) who are responsible for maintaining the integrity of past, present and future of the game may deem eliminating ties a drastic change. Meaning that a team that plays a perfect 60 minutes of regulation hockey, 10 mins OT 4 on 4 or 5 on 5, and then lose in a SO will get zero points. Ouch!

        What about something like this; Teams winning in regulation or overtime would receive three points, teams losing in a 10 min overtime (5 on 5) zero points. The points could stay the same for the shootout winner (two) and loser (one).

    • titansbro - Jan 2, 2014 at 8:13 AM

      I get what you’re saying but the shootout is more than simply a skills competition. It may not be the same as “real hockey” but there is defense involved. It’s not like they’re out there shooting at an empty net or deciding games based on who has the hardest shot. The HR derby isn’t a fair comparison because there is no defense. Maybe if it was the pitcher of one team versus the best hitters of the other team. It’s closer to the college football rule where each team’s offense lines up near the goal line against the other team’s defense & the first team to not match the other teams score loses.

      While I selfishly would like to see more hockey as well, I don’t think the shootout ruins anything.

  7. csilojohnson - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    2460 games played total in regular season. 6 are outdoors.
    One way to look at it.

  8. muckleflugga - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    bettman’s only disappointment was missing out on a piece of the seventy dollar parking tabs to get within a mile…colossal cash grab by all accounts…

    gloss it over all you want with cbc and nbc manufactured enthusiasm but…they’re killing the goose that laid the golden egg with overexposure

    great event were it a one off but…that hockey ain’t hockey worth the price

    and for those waxing sentimental about pond hockey and the good old days…i grew up playing and coaching in winter on outdoor ice…we flooded scraped and cleaned…we froze our bags off…

    there was nothing romantic about frostbite and frozen feet…hot chocolate and rosy cheeks…my ass…

    saturday evening post fantasies

  9. muckleflugga - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:36 PM


    i’m not sure where you post from, but i can assure you hockey is not as popular as it once was…in canada by any measure

    in the sixties and seventies, hockey ruled the roost…during winter with no american cable, it was the only show…the playoffs were riveting and fans of all teams followed it to the bitter end…

    not anymore…

    go into a pub or sports bar after local or regional favourites are gone, nobody watches or cares…the places are empty when twenty years ago they were full…

    even against a growing inclusion of females into hockey, interest in participation is falling in proportion to the speed at which less violent and wholly inclusive sports are rising

    minor league soccer blows minor league hockey off the charts…it involves a tenth of the cost, maybe less

    during champions’ league and world cup, the pubs and sports bars are nuts…supporters clubs for soccer and rugby surprusingly, are everywhere…i have yet to come across a single hockey supporters club…anywhere

    we love the game of hockey…those who play the game love it all the more…but violence and price of participation as player or fan is killing the game

    sorry kid, but that’s the way it is

    • joey4id - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      I understand your point. Put it’s all about $$$$$$$$$. Rogers Media deal is an indication of the popularity of the game in Canada.

    • blomfeld - Jan 1, 2014 at 11:05 PM

      yes friend … and there was a time when Bonanza was ‘appointment’ TV

  10. andyisfat - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Except for a stupid shoot out.

  11. geo91 - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    I froze my dick off but man was that ever amazing to be at, what an atmosphere and tribute to the game

  12. muckleflugga - Jan 1, 2014 at 10:29 PM


    let’s take your point about change…action…reaction back…way back…to the day of the troglodyte –gotta find a woman gotta find a woman– oooh, sorry, we digress…

    in the sixties, nhl hockey was reduced to a dump and chase game, primarily by lesser skilled teams relying upon need to pound the snot out of a finesse opposition on the end boards to regain posession…ruthless forechecking was the rule of the day

    enter the russians…summit series 72…they played keep-away…ran north american opposition ragged sucking them into the chase…bloated egos caught on extended shifts…russians execute a running change…zip zip zip goal…they never risked surrendering the puck unless it was a true-blue try on net…the beautiful game

    so, in emulation nhl teams start bringing in slick skating puck-possession europeans…those teams start to thrive and dominate…think oilers and kurri…red wings and russian five

    in counter, lesser teams resort to thuggery…bullying…goon hockey…think [ ]…skill finesse hockey in paradox, induced brutality…under auspices of a league imposing need for parity at any cost…

    so it’s less about speed and removing centre ice off-sides and more about permissive and loose administration of the rules of the game

    instant remedy, olympic sized ice…rebirth of speed and finesse…

    can’t pin and bludgeon what you can’t catch

    • blomfeld - Jan 1, 2014 at 11:12 PM

      “enter the russians…summit series 72”

      as a 54 year old ‘ardent, sexy and values-driven’ Canadian supporter of the SC Champion Los Angeles Kings, I Blomfeld say that the CCCP offered up the most ‘beautiful’ hockey ever seen by man back in 1972 ! :)

  13. jimw81 - Jan 2, 2014 at 5:00 AM

    Outdoor games would work if u had winter classic + 2 games in January, not in march.

  14. sabatimus - Jan 2, 2014 at 7:03 AM

    Man, those were some awesome quasi-throwback uniforms by the Wings. Makes me want to get one, even though as a Bruins fan I can’t in good conscience do so.

    • titansbro - Jan 2, 2014 at 8:18 AM

      they were pretty sweet, love the unis of the original six anyway but those were NICE

  15. joey4id - Jan 2, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Though I much prefer watching an indoor game the WC will remain a classic for ages to come. It provides the NHL a great marketing machine permitting them to expand their fan base and increase revenues. So, from a business perspective it was a great show. They experimented with an outdoor game and made it what it is today. Now they are experimenting with the stadium series. It’s future will depend highly on the financial results and marketing impact. They may have opened. Whole new revenue stream which can lead to outdoor games in Europe.

  16. sportsfan69 - Jan 2, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Have U2 play New Year’s Day in the Winter Classic. Hopefully the same type of weather. Have in Toronto or Minnesota. Somewhere cold.

  17. bkg63 - Jan 2, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Why not tweek the game by making the OT ten minutes instead of five; that would likely reduce the number of shootouts…

  18. drhenning - Jan 2, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    I don’t mind shootouts.. Fans in the stands like them and it gets the game over… Especially this season with 2 weeks gone because of Olympics, teams play back to back… I am sure players have no interest in longer OT because they would have to clean the ice and take time to do that.. A five minute OT means it can start it right away and then they do a quick clean for the shootout… It’s all logistics and what they do now is perfect… Just be thankful they’ve held back from expanding shootouts in the playoffs.. There’s been talk whenever they’ve had one of those extra long playoff games about doing a shootout to end it ala World Cup soccer… That’s a real bummer to lose in a playoff that way… No way I want that in Stanley Cup playoffs..

  19. yordo - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Bettman had to issue a statement because he wasn’t allowed to attend. He heard it was a jolly good time, and he wishes his wife would let him out of his cage for special events.

    • satcat69 - Jan 7, 2014 at 7:27 PM

      He didn’t want to be part of a world record, for fans booing a commissioner….

  20. amityvillefun - Jan 3, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Bettman is rolling in the money, laughing hysterically and exclaiming:

    “Man, I LOVE hockey!”

    P.T. Barnum was absolutely right.

    Frankly, I’m amazed that people would spend that kind of dough to get frost bite.

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