Jun 4, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT
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.
Sep 1, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT
Which leaves the question — would they make a move?
Sep 1, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
He spent all of last season with Lehigh Valley.
Sep 1, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
Sep 1, 2015, 10:04 AM EDT
Veteran forward heads overseas after appearing in 600-plus NHL contests.
Sep 1, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
He’s got plenty of potential, but he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.
Sep 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Aug 31, 2015, 10:22 PM EDT
His first game against Boston is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Aug 31, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
The start of his rookie campaign is approaching.
Aug 31, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
Who will take advantage of the opening?
Aug 31, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
The two have previously played together on the Czech national team.
Aug 31, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
Former coach Jeff Daniels is also staying within the organization after being relieved of his AHL coaching duties.
Aug 31, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Looking to score an AHL deal.
Aug 31, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT
You can expect this question to be asked throughout the year.
Aug 31, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Heck, the ‘Hawks are still over the salary cap ceiling.
Aug 31, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Chicago’s star forward remains under police investigation.
Aug 31, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
Can his KHL success translate to North America?
Aug 31, 2015, 10:04 AM EDT
Plenty of changes in the Windy City.
Aug 31, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The defending Stanley Cup champs dealt away key pieces in the offseason.
Aug 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Monday’s collection of links.
Aug 30, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
The 36-year-old is still looking for a contract after being bought out by the Wild.
- Report: Hawks feel Kane ‘disrespected’ team, have received trade calls 2
- Hawks’ biggest question: What happens with Patrick Kane? 75
- Hall of Famer Al Arbour passes away 21
- Poll: Who will be San Jose’s next captain? 24
- Mike Richards charged with possession of controlled substance 95
- Gio won’t go: Flames extend Giordano for six years, $40.5M 13
- Pens’ plan for now: Crosby starts as Kessel’s center 25
- O, Dear: Russia fined $85K for skipping Canadian anthem 31
- Kings ink Ehrhoff to a one-year, $1.5 million deal 27
- Quebec City, Vegas advance to final phase of NHL expansion process 50