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Bettman: ‘Our game is better’

Feb 20, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT

BettmanMichaels

In a wide-raging interview with NBC’s Al Michaels, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the NHL game is “better” than Olympic hockey.

Watch the full interview on NBCOlympics.com

Michaels asked Bettman about the play on expanded international ice — the rinks in Sochi are 200-feet long by 100-feet wide, 15 feet wider than NHL ice — and the commissioner said he felt the North American game was superior.

“I think our game is better,” Bettman said. “I think our game has more offensive intensity, particularly play around the net.”

“There have been some people who have advocated that it’s a little safer. I don’t buy that either. In Vancouver — which, by the way, most people say has been the best hockey tournament there’s been in the Olympics — that was played on NHL ice, and our injury factors seemed to be a lot less than they are here [in Sochi].”

Bettman noted that “five players” had been hurt during the Sochi Games. Those would be Henrik Zetterberg, Aleksander Barkov, Tomas Kopecky, Mats Zuccarello and John Tavares — the latter being a 2013 Hart Trophy candidate for NHL MVP, now ruled out for the remainder of the season with a torn MCL.

In short, the commissioner doesn’t see any upside to the larger sheet.

“I’ve talked to a lot of our hockey people who are here,” Bettman said. “We’re not advocates of the bigger ice.”

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