Gary Bettman takes a lot of heat from a lot of fans across the league. However, he has put this league in such a great position right now. I would argue that this is the best the league has been in a long time. He has to be one of the top two commissioners among the four major sports in America, and arguably he is the best commissioner among the four. He was in the area on business last night and decided to take in the Ducks dominant win over the Phoenix Coyotes. He talked about some of the issues the NHL is dealing with right now.
I’m gonna eliminate some of the things he did talk about for the sake of time and space. Here’s a link to his entire interview in like a script version. Right here homes. But, here are a few things he discussed.
On an All-Star Game in Anaheim in the future:
I could see having an All-Star Game out here. This is obviously a desirable part of the country for people to travel to. There are lots of hotels and facilities within shouting distance of this arena. My guess is at the right time, if the club wants it and it makes sense in terms of our schedule of events, that is something that we would be prepared to consider seriously.
We had one in ’02 in LA. Southern California is obviously ripe. We’ve had a draft out there. There is no question that this club and this area can host a major event. Maybe not an outdoor game, but one of the other events. That is nothing against the area. It’s just the weather I don’t think would be conducive.
On NHL realignment, which was recently rejected by the NHL Players’ Association:
The most significant thing I can say about that is, the governors overwhelmingly were in support of the plan. It was something we thought as a league was the right thing to do for our fans, for the teams, for the game. But we made the decision, based on the position the union was taking, to try not to be confrontational right now. Ultimately, our goal will be to implement the will of the board.
I don’t want to characterize what their biggest concerns may or may not have been. You’d have to discuss it with them. We think it was a perfectly sensible and reasonable plan. But the union obviously didn’t agree. We just didn’t think this was a sensible time to be confrontational, so we said we won’t implement it now.
On what he took away from the lockout:
I’m not sure it’s about learning lessons. The lesson that everybody knows and it’s not one you have to learn is that you do not want to have work stoppages. They are not fun and are counter-productive. But if, if you are in a situation as we were where there were fundamental problems that had to be addressed, you have to address the problems because you can’t live with a dysfunctional system. It’s not that we learned anything. It was we did what we had to do at the time. If you look back over the last six and a half seasons, the league is in a stronger position than it was when we started collective bargaining on that agreement.
On player safety:
I think I’ve been on record for most of the 18 years as I thinking visors were a good idea. Both that is something that the Players Association, at least to date, hasn’t agreed to. We have been very proactive on player safety. I know there are more concussions being reported. That is in part a function of the fact that we are doing a much better job of reporting, diagnosing and treating. When you think about it, the education process that the league is going through and the players has changed the culture, so that players are more willing to admit that they’ve had a concussion and get treated. That is all very important. We’ve been at this since ’97. We were the first sports league to do base line testing, the first sports league to have protocols for diagnosis and return to play. We have the quiet room protocol, which nobody has done. We’ve changed rules on more than one occasion. We have a Department of Player Safety. We take this stuff very seriously and we’re going to continue looking at equipment. That is one of the mandates that Brendan Shanahan has. This is something we do in conjunction with the Players Association.
I think Brendan is doing a terrific job. He’s working extremely hard. I think this job is everything he expected and more. I also think the players are hearing him. Particularly with the videos, there is greater clarity as to what is expected on the ice and what won’t be tolerated. He has an extremely difficult job. Part of what has happened is people have on second look given Colin Campbell a little more respect for the job he did for 13 years in this field. This is a hard, hard job that he has. The decisions are hard and nobody is ever happy.
I could definitely see an All-Star game in Southern California soon, let’s be serious, who wouldn’t wanna take a trip out to Cali??? Oh, and there’s no way a regular season game is played outdoors in California in my opinion, not to be East Coast biased about it or nothing. I agree with what he said about where the league is 6 and half season out of the lockout. The NHL is growing and it’s great. I also agree with him that Shanahan is doing a great job. The hits to the head have to stop and I think he will get it done. Well, if you wanna find out what else he talked about, visit the link I posted. Also, there is a video of him visiting the broadcast booth during an intermission. Oh and the stuff in quotes is from the link.
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