Skip to content

Bettman trumpets ‘truly remarkable’ season

Jun 4, 2014, 7:33 PM EST

2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Not even two years after the resolution of a lockout that many predicted would cripple the NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman sat at the podium before the start of the Stanley Cup Final and said the league has enjoyed the most successful season in its history.

To his credit, he didn’t say, “I told you so.”

Instead, he called 2013-14 a “truly remarkable” season for the NHL, while referencing:

— The record attendance and TV viewership numbers.

— The successful series of outdoor games, all sold out.

— The “overwhelmingly positive” reception to the new playoff format.

— The “unparalleled competitive balance” of a league that hasn’t had a repeat champion since 1998, and won’t again this year.

— The dramatic rise in franchise values, largely a function of skyrocketing rights fees for live sports, on which the NHL capitalized this season.

— The “great business opportunity” that a reborn World Cup presents, even if the idea isn’t “fully baked” and still needs to be hashed out with the NHLPA. (On the subject of the Olympics and whether the NHL would continue to participate in the Games, he said no decision had been made, and to this point, not much thought had been put into it.)

— The continuing interest from investors in pursuit of expansion teams, even if the NHL isn’t quite ready to add teams yet.

Heck, Bettman even took one of the biggest challenges facing the NHL — head injuries — and spun it into a positive, noting that concussions were down this season, a development he believed was a “function of the concussion protocols working.”

While he admitted there was still work to be done in that area — in fact, he said teams had been disciplined behind the scenes for violating the protocols — he shifted much of the responsibility for the players’ safety onto the players themselves, saying that players must continue to learn that it’s “okay to say you’re suffering from concussion symptoms.” Otherwise, it’s “pretty difficult” to tell if they’re faking in order to stay in the game.

To be sure, Bettman will continue to face criticism over concussions and how seriously the NHL treats the health of its players. The positive spin he put on the subject today will be seen by many as just that — spin.

But compared to years past, that criticism will seem like nothing. Remember, the NHL’s “truly remarkable” season still has at least four games left, and with a Stanley Cup Final match-up between teams from the “two biggest cities,” the good news seems bound to keep coming for the commish.

Latest Posts
  1. Price shuts out Leafs to match Canadiens record

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:41 PM EST

    Carey Price AP

    He’s continuing to make his case for the art Trophy.

  2. Video: Hard-fought Flyers lead neutralized in just 24 seconds

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:24 PM EST

    New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Stakes are high for Philadelphia after Boston and Florida won.

  3. Jagr earns high praise in his Panthers debut

    Feb 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST

    Jaromir Jagr AP

    His leadership and the confidence that he brings might provide Florida with a big boost.

  4. Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss

    Feb 28, 2015, 8:24 PM EST

    Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic AP

    Arizona is threatening to drop to 29th in the NHL, which would be big as far as the draft lottery is concerned.

  5. WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Flyers (8:00 p.m. ET)

    Feb 28, 2015, 7:51 PM EST

    Wayne Simmonds, Ryan McDonagh AP

    Philadelphia is trying to salvage its bid for a playoff spot.

  6. Sabres’ Chris Stewart is eager to play postseason hockey

    Feb 28, 2015, 7:37 PM EST

    Chris Stewart Getty Images

    A recent report suggests that Boston is interested.

  7. Red Wings beat NHL-leading Preds to end successful Western road trip

    Feb 28, 2015, 6:02 PM EST

    Alexei Marchenko, Justin Abdelkader AP

    Alexey Marchenko scored his first career goal.

  8. Five on waivers as trade deadline looms

    Feb 28, 2015, 5:34 PM EST

    Rob Zepp Getty Images

    That gives some teams extra roster flexibility.

  9. Agent: Blackhawks have ‘no intention’ of trading Sharp

    Feb 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EST

    Patrick Sharp Patrick Sharp

    He’s been the subject of trade rumors lately.

  10. Goalie Nods: Mason returns for the Flyers

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:35 PM EST

    Steve Mason AP

    News and notes from around the blue paint…

  11. Trade: Ducks acquire Fleischmann from the Panthers for Heatley and a pick

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:07 PM EST

    TomasFleischmann Getty Images

    The former Caps’ forward reunited with Bruce Boudreau.

  12. Trade: Capitals acquire Gleason from the Canes for Hillen and a pick

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:27 PM EST

    TimGleason Getty Images

    Both are unrestricted free agents after this season.

  13. Report: Rangers are shopping Zuccarello

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Mats Zuccarello Getty Images

    He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season.

  14. Clarkson set to debut on Jackets’ top line

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:15 AM EST

    Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders Getty Images

    Was acquired Thursday from Toronto.

Featured video

Trade deadline storylines to watch
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. B. Wheeler (2666)
  2. T. Hall (2424)
  3. K. Okposo (2386)
  4. M. Giordano (2232)
  5. D. Krejci (2176)