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. Tavares: I’ve ‘never seen anyone’ change gears like McDavid

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Connor McDavid Getty Images

    The top 2015 draft prospect has impressed the Islanders’ superstar.

  2. Penguins send ’12 first-rounder Pouliot to minors

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    Derrick Pouliot Getty Images

    He had been recovering from shoulder surgery.

  3. Ducks’ Heatley, Allen take step towards return

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:11 AM EDT

    Dany Heatley Getty Images

    Both players have missed the start of the season.

  4. NHL on NBCSN: Flyers aim to solve Hawks’ Crawford

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:33 AM EDT

    Corey Crawford AP

    Of course Philadelphia needs to take care of business in its own end too.

  5. Video: Oilers win…? Oilers win!

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT

    HKN Lightning Oilers 20141020 AP

    It finally happened and it happened with a late goal.

  6. Video: Callahan (lower-body injury) leaves game against Oilers (Updated)

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT

    Ryan Callahan Getty Images

    Caught Taylor Hall with a heavy hit earlier in the game.

  7. Don Cherry: ‘Something’s gotta go’ in Edmonton

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:07 PM EDT

    Don Cherry Getty Images

    Talking about the Oilers perhaps trading one of their young players.

  8. Video: Callahan crunches Hall

    Oct 20, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT

    Ryan Callahan Getty Images

    Heavy hit along the boards.

  9. Canucks coach Desjardins on return to Dallas: ‘It means I want to win more’

    Oct 20, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

    WillieDesjardins AP

    That’s about as much trash talk as you’re going to get from Willie D.

  10. Report: Drouin to make NHL debut against Oilers after all (Updated: It’s official)

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT

    Jonathan Drouin AP

    Alex Killorn is – again, this is based on same report – out of the lineup.

  11. Leafs’ Biggs, mired in ECHL, ‘really felt the onus’ of being 1st-rounder

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Tyler Biggs Getty Images

    “He’s got to go and maybe play out of the spotlight that we have here in Toronto.”

  12. Coyotes concerned about Smith’s struggling psyche

    Oct 20, 2014, 7:57 PM EDT

    mikesmithgetty Getty Images

    “I’ve played three games and it hasn’t gone even close to the way it needs to be.”

  13. Maybe tomorrow? Drouin won’t play tonight versus Oilers

    Oct 20, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    Lightning Camp Hockey AP

    Coach Cooper cites the long trip to Edmonton from Syracuse as reason to keep the rookie out against the Oilers.

Featured video

Why are we talking about fighting... again?

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Datsyuk (3446)
  2. J. Drouin (2799)
  3. J. Spezza (2642)
  4. M. Gaborik (2617)
  5. E. Kane (2542)