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.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT
Will one be named this season?
Aug 28, 2014, 9:33 PM EDT
The new coach wants the Penguins to ‘lessen the load.’
Aug 28, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
It wasn’t even close.
Aug 28, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT
They have a lot of players on their roster with something to prove.
Aug 28, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT
There’s no timetable for his return.
Aug 28, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT
The former first round pick is entering the last season of his entry-level contract.
Aug 28, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT
Chris Stewart seems to think so.
Aug 28, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT
Arizona or Carolina could relocate according to the host.
Aug 28, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
Milano clears the air on deal with Columbus.
Aug 28, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT
To be implemented for 2014-15 season.
Aug 28, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT
Calls out former coaches Marc Crawford, Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella
Aug 28, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT
After a solid junior career, hopes to make the Sabres as an 18-year-old.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
Last appeared in 10 games with the Montreal Canadiens during the 2012-13 season.
Aug 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 9.
Aug 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They’re in the middle of a rebuilding process.
Aug 27, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT
Of course, neither will be wearing a Sabres’ uniform – not yet at least.
Aug 27, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT
They’ve also appointed Don Sweeney as the AHL team’s new general manager.
Aug 27, 2014, 8:28 PM EDT
It matters given that they will start next season with a largely unchanged roster.
Aug 27, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
Ken Holland hasn’t been in contact with him lately, but that will change soon.
Aug 27, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT
He hasn’t played for them since 2007.
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