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.
Jul 25, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT
Vancouver took him with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Jul 25, 2014, 9:38 PM EDT
He signed with the AHL Oklahoma City Barons.
Jul 25, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
That wasn’t the case when he began his career.
Jul 25, 2014, 7:23 PM EDT
He’s a restricted free agent, but might end up returning to Switzerland.
Jul 25, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT
In a way, she played a role in him working for the Canucks.
Jul 25, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT
He lost the starting job to Jonathan Bernier last season.
Jul 25, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT
He was taken with the fourth overall pick.
Jul 25, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Two-time Stanley Cup winner played last season with KHL club HC Donbass.
Jul 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
“I wish I had a really good answer — where this came from and why, and how it came about — but I don’t, to be honest.”
Jul 25, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT
“We’re hoping the change of scenery is going to do him good.”
Jul 25, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT
But not before having played his first NHL game since 2009-10.
Jul 25, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
“It’s a fairly simple one because Marc wants to be here,”
Jul 25, 2014, 10:13 AM EDT
The 32nd overall pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Jul 25, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He made his NHL debut with Washington last season.
Jul 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Friday’s collection of links.
Jul 24, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT
In other words, they want him to be a shutdown center
Jul 24, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT
Eriksson’s looking to bounce back after suffering two concussions last season.
Jul 24, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT
He’ll get a fresh start after struggling with Vancouver.
Jul 24, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
He’s coming back after testing the free agent waters.
Jul 24, 2014, 6:57 PM EDT
It’s that time of the year.
- Leafs re-sign Reimer — two years, $4.6 million 12
- Gorges still can’t explain falling out of favor in Montreal 9
- Eller, Habs agree to four-year, $14 million contract 10
- Cory Sarich hospitalized following cycling accident, expects ‘full recovery’ 6
- Stamkos shrugs off talk of LeBron-like homecoming to Toronto in 2016 28
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain 45
- Rangers and Kreider avoid arbitration, agree on two-year deal 39
- Zuccarello takes Rangers’ one year, $3.5M deal 42
- Advancement? Leafs sign Booth for one year, $1.1M 25
- Leafs hire 28-year-old stats advocate as assistant GM 30
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 (69)
- Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation (61)
- Lucic regrets handshake-line actions, but isn’t apologizing (58)
- Report: O’Reilly wants $6.7M deal, Avs counter at $5.5M (58)
- Red Wings unveil plans for new arena, look to open in 2017 (57)