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.
Oct 21, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
The top 2015 draft prospect has impressed the Islanders’ superstar.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT
He had been recovering from shoulder surgery.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:11 AM EDT
Both players have missed the start of the season.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:33 AM EDT
Of course Philadelphia needs to take care of business in its own end too.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:56 AM EDT
Get out the swear jar.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:11 AM EDT
Yeah, he was.
Oct 21, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT
It finally happened and it happened with a late goal.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT
Caught Taylor Hall with a heavy hit earlier in the game.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:24 PM EDT
Now, can they hang on for the win?
Oct 20, 2014, 11:07 PM EDT
Talking about the Oilers perhaps trading one of their young players.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT
Heavy hit along the boards.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT
That’s about as much trash talk as you’re going to get from Willie D.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT
Alex Killorn is – again, this is based on same report – out of the lineup.
Oct 20, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT
“He’s got to go and maybe play out of the spotlight that we have here in Toronto.”
Oct 20, 2014, 7:57 PM EDT
“I’ve played three games and it hasn’t gone even close to the way it needs to be.”
Oct 20, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Leafs add some organizational depth.
Oct 20, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT
Colorado, getting some good news in goal.
Oct 20, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
Caps are off on a road trip to Western Canada.
Oct 20, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
Coach Cooper cites the long trip to Edmonton from Syracuse as reason to keep the rookie out against the Oilers.
- NHL on NBCSN: Flyers aim to solve Hawks’ Crawford 6
- Jets’ Maurice apologizes for using the F-bomb at a reporter 15
- Video: Oilers win…? Oilers win! 3
- Bruins’ Miller out indefinitely after dislocating shoulder in fight 28
- Voynov released on $50K bond; NHL says ‘circumstances were different’ in Varlamov case 34
- Here are your top 5 and bottom 5 goalies of the young NHL season 13
- Updated: Kings’ Voynov arrested for domestic assault, suspended indefinitely 78
- Report: Brodie’s contract extension with Calgary expected Monday 0
- Video: Rangers score twice in record time 5
- Video: Quick robs Parise as part of 40-save performance 11
- Source: Lucic fined $5k for gesture vs. Habs (Confirmed) (121)
- Updated: Kings’ Voynov arrested for domestic assault, suspended indefinitely (78)
- Video: Bruins’ Lucic gestures to Habs fans after late penalty (59)
- ‘It’s stupid': Tempers flare after Kesler’s late charge on Granlund (54)
- Lucic apologizes for obscene gesture: ‘I’m obviously not proud of what I did there’ (45)