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 4, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT
They signed him to a one-year deal while fellow breakout rookie Mark Stone got a three-year contract.
Aug 4, 2015, 6:28 PM EDT
Jim Benning follows through after calling him a “foundation piece.”
Aug 4, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
Assuming of course Bill Foley succeeds in his attempt to bring the NHL to Sin City.
Aug 4, 2015, 4:55 PM EDT
Where should we set the bar post-Babcock?
Aug 4, 2015, 4:14 PM EDT
That didn’t work out for them.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
Yes, it’s the inevitable, perennial Red Wings question.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT
MLBAM will handle NHL.com, Center Ice, Game Center Live and the NHL Network in 2016.
Aug 4, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT
Can Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek get it done, collectively?
Aug 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Adding a wealth of experience.
Aug 4, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT
The skilled Swede may or may not be ready to start the season.
Aug 4, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT
He’s already made a positive impression on Jeff Blashill.
Aug 4, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
Mike Babcock’s act is a tough one to follow.
Aug 4, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The book has closed on the Mike Babcock era.
Aug 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Aug 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
The squads will feature players that were part of either organization from 1996-2002
Aug 3, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
He’ll be fighting to be seen as the team’s third-string goaltender.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?
Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.
Aug 3, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
Despite all the splashy moves, patience likely will be needed.
Aug 3, 2015, 3:46 PM EDT
It’s another arbitration win for Ottawa.
- Canucks ink Brandon Sutter to five-year, $21.875 million extension 11
- NHL unveils ‘historic’ digital media rights deal with MLBAM 33
- It’s Detroit Red Wings Day at PHT 15
- What does Jack Eichel mean to the Buffalo Sabres? 32
- It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT 33
- Bernier, Leafs agree on two-year, $8.3 million deal 29
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? 62
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal 71
- Report: Canucks, Sutter closing in on five-year deal, north of $20M 28
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs 45
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal (71)
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? (62)
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs (45)
- Owner Pegula: Sabres have gone through ‘two of the most successful seasons we’ve ever had’ (43)
- NHL unveils ‘historic’ digital media rights deal with MLBAM (36)