Jun 4, 2014, 7:33 PM EST
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.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:41 PM EST
He’s continuing to make his case for the art Trophy.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:12 PM EST
Chicago also added Kimmo Timonen on Friday.
Feb 28, 2015, 9:24 PM EST
Stakes are high for Philadelphia after Boston and Florida won.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST
His leadership and the confidence that he brings might provide Florida with a big boost.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:24 PM EST
Arizona is threatening to drop to 29th in the NHL, which would be big as far as the draft lottery is concerned.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:51 PM EST
Philadelphia is trying to salvage its bid for a playoff spot.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:37 PM EST
A recent report suggests that Boston is interested.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:55 PM EST
He’s been released from the hospital.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:02 PM EST
Alexey Marchenko scored his first career goal.
Feb 28, 2015, 5:34 PM EST
That gives some teams extra roster flexibility.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:45 PM EST
Was injured on a hit from Seth Jones.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EST
He’s been the subject of trade rumors lately.
Feb 28, 2015, 3:35 PM EST
News and notes from around the blue paint…
Feb 28, 2015, 2:07 PM EST
The former Caps’ forward reunited with Bruce Boudreau.
Feb 28, 2015, 1:15 PM EST
He’s being evaluated in hospital.
Feb 28, 2015, 12:27 PM EST
Both are unrestricted free agents after this season.
Feb 28, 2015, 12:00 PM EST
He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:15 AM EST
Was acquired Thursday from Toronto.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:30 AM EST
Ottawa’s GM confirms he had talks with Toronto.
Feb 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EST
New York has won four straight overall coming in.
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder 12
- Jagr earns high praise in his Panthers debut 0
- Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss 4
- NHL on NBC: Rangers look for a fourth straight win against the Flyers 6
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 9
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 13
- Flyers trade Kimmo Timonen to Blackhawks 36
- Video: Couture fined $5K for slew-footing Smith 22
- Time to start winning — Bruins’ next four games are against non-playoff teams 17
- Burgled: Sens’ Hammond shuts out Kings 14
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)
- Lindros files $3M defamation lawsuit against ex-referee Stewart (Updated: Now $250K) (65)
- The plummeting Coyotes are threatening to fall below the Oilers into 29th place (55)