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.
May 27, 2015, 8:09 PM EDT
Chicago’s mixing things up for this must-win game.
May 27, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT
She’s previously been warned that this course could lead to her being found in contempt.
May 27, 2015, 6:06 PM EDT
Anaheim has a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final tonight.
May 27, 2015, 5:24 PM EDT
After just one year in Pittsburgh.
May 27, 2015, 4:43 PM EDT
The ladies sure loved that guy.
May 27, 2015, 4:16 PM EDT
One of the many decisions facing new GM Don Sweeney.
May 27, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT
Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final goes Friday at MSG.
May 27, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT
The two men worked together for a season in New Jersey.
May 27, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
Tomas Fleischmann likely on his way out.
May 27, 2015, 2:21 PM EDT
“We’re going to be embedded in this community.”
May 27, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT
“I get the fact there were three goals that went in that were ugly. That’s the growth of a young player.”
May 27, 2015, 1:09 PM EDT
Either way, Kimmo Timonen is likely out.
May 27, 2015, 12:39 PM EDT
Rangers forward has had issues with it thus far.
May 27, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT
Former Panthers and Devils coach will take over a team that missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
May 27, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT
Remember when AV called the youngster out?
May 27, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT
“Our door is open for the Capitals, absolutely first and foremost.”
May 27, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT
Veteran center enjoyed something of a career revival with the Oilers last season.
May 27, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT
Chicago fans are hoping that dream includes a Game 6 win.
May 27, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT
Give some credit to his linemates, including “energizer bunny” J.T. Miller.
May 27, 2015, 8:21 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
- WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Blackhawks, Western Conference Final Game 6 1
- As Bolts deal with illness, extra day of rest could prove beneficial 6
- Sounds like it’s Rundblad, not TVR, in for Chicago on defense 15
- On Kreider, and trying ‘to turn the other cheek’ 38
- Report: Sharks to name DeBoer head coach 16
- Video: Lundqvist helps lead Rangers back to New York for Game 7 6
- Lightning get taken to ‘school of hard knocks’ in third-period collapse 11
- A storm brewing: Rangers rally to force Game 7 with Lightning (Video) 11
- Video: Lundqvist stones Stamkos with left-pad save 0
- Bob Clarke really doesn’t care for tanking 38
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (75)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL (53)
- Babcock wants to ‘put Canada’s team back on the map’ (49)