Skip to content

Bettman trumpets ‘truly remarkable’ season

Jun 4, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT

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. Top prospect Virtanen signs with Canucks

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Jake Virtanen AP

    Vancouver took him with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

  2. NHL veteran Jason Williams returning to North America

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:38 PM EDT

    Jason Williams Getty Images

    He signed with the AHL Oklahoma City Barons.

  3. Moser wants pay raise to stick with Preds

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:23 PM EDT

    Simon Moser Getty Images

    He’s a restricted free agent, but might end up returning to Switzerland.

  4. Gillis’ daughter: Criticism was hard to ignore

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT

    Mike Gillis AP

    In a way, she played a role in him working for the Canucks.

  5. Leafs re-sign Reimer — two years, $4.6 million

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT

    DETROIT, MI - MARCH 18: James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates back to the net after a time out during the second period of the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on March 18, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

    He lost the starting job to Jonathan Bernier last season.

  6. Fedotenko’s goal ‘is to play in the NHL next year,’ says agent

    Jul 25, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Ruslan Fedotenko #26 of the Philadelphia Flyers clears the puck in the third period against the New York Rangers on March 5, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.The New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2.
(March 4, 2013 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    Two-time Stanley Cup winner played last season with KHL club HC Donbass.

  7. Gorges still can’t explain falling out of favor in Montreal

    Jul 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    joshgorgesgetty Getty Images

    “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.”

  8. Coyotes have high hopes for Gagner after ‘tough couple of years’ in Edmonton

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT

    Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    “We’re hoping the change of scenery is going to do him good.”

  9. Habs’ St. Pierre heads back to KHL

    Jul 25, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT

    MartinStPierre Getty Images

    But not before having played his first NHL game since 2009-10.

  10. Methot’s new deal with Sens ‘going to be multi-year’

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

    MarcMethot Getty Images

    “It’s a fairly simple one because Marc wants to be here,”

  11. Detroit re-signs Ferraro: one year, $550,000

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:13 AM EDT

    LandonFerraro Getty Images

    The 32nd overall pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

  12. Deschamps agrees to terms with Finnish squad

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Nicolas Deschamps Getty Images

    He made his NHL debut with Washington last season.

  13. ‘Hawks 2011 first-round pick Danault told to emulate Kruger

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT

    Phillip Danault Getty Images

    In other words, they want him to be a shutdown center

  14. Julien points to Eriksson as answer to Iginla departure

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT

    louierikssongetty Getty Images

    Eriksson’s looking to bounce back after suffering two concussions last season.

  15. Booth eager to prove he ‘can play in this League again’

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

    NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 24: David Booth #7 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 24, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. The Canucks defeated the Devils 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Getty Images

    He’ll get a fresh start after struggling with Vancouver.

  16. Jets re-sign Ellerby despite not qualifying him

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Keaton Ellerby Getty Images

    He’s coming back after testing the free agent waters.

Featured video

Bettman hears the boos in Philly
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (1738)
  2. L. Stempniak (1596)
  3. R. O'Reilly (1502)
  4. C. Franson (1451)
  5. D. Roy (1395)
  1. D. Booth (1306)
  2. A. Rome (1261)
  3. M. Zuccarello (1117)
  4. C. Kreider (1108)
  5. J. Demers (1040)