Tag:Gary Bettman
Posted on: February 9, 2012 10:39 am
Edited on: February 9, 2012 3:26 pm
 

NHL announces Winter Classic to be at Big House

By Brian Stubits

The NHL made it all officially official on Thursday in Detroit. The Winter Classic will be held at the Big House in Ann Arbor against the Maple Leafs and Red Wings next New Year's Day.

"It's Hockeytown against the center of the hockey universe" Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke joked at the news conference.

It had been in the works for a while. The talk of the press box at the Winter Classic in Philly just over a month ago was that Detroit was going to be hosting the game. Since then everything has come into focus and the NHL just clarified (and confirmed) it all.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said that there will be about 115,000 tickets available for the game, and assuming they sell them all (they will) it will break the record for a hockey audience, also achieved at Michigan Stadium when University of Michigan played Michigan State.

"I'm all pshyced, I want to get my skates!" Red Wings owner Mike Illitch said. "But I can't skate."

In addition to the big game, downtown Detroit will be hosting events all week with the Hockeytown Winter Festival including the Alumni Game at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. The rink in Detroit will be very busy as college and OHL games will also be held there.

In making the announcement, Bettman estimated that the events in Detroit itself will bring 150,000-200,000 fans to the city for all the events.

It will prove to be the busiest Winter Classic held to date, hands down. Not only will there be significantly more action on the rinks, but there will be two rinks at two stadiums. That will be a lot of work. But the good news is that nothing should affect the ice for the NHL game as Ann Arbor will only host the main event.

Personally, I think it's a fantastic idea, even if it will make life a little tough on the behind-the-scenes people and those covering the events, shuffling back and forth between the cities.

Hockeytown hosting the best week of outdoor hockey? Yes, please!

More from Eye on Hockey

Ranking the Winter Classic venues
Alumni Game possibilities

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 6, 2012 5:49 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 6:18 pm
 

Ralph Nader's letter asking for end to fighting

Ralph Nader is talking to you, Commish. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Hey, remember Ralph Nader? Of course you do, he has run for president a couple of times on the Green Party ballot, garnering 2.74 percent of the popular vote in the 2000 election, decided by the narrowest of margins to George W. Bush.

Well he's a bit of an activist, you see, always has been. He is the founder of a sports activist (for lack of a better term) website called League of Fans. On Monday Nader helped write an open letter to Gary Bettman asking for the abolition of fighting from the NHL.

Really. Ralph Nader talking hockey.

Dear Mr. Bettman:

It’s time to act. The National Hockey League must take immediate steps to ban fighting and outlaw all blows to the head. And you, Mr. Bettman, as league commissioner, must lead the way.

Fighting in hockey can no longer be a long-debated issue pitting those who find it barbaric and unsportsmanlike and those who argue that it’s an integral part of the fabric of the game. The growing mound of research on sports concussions and brain injuries has taken the fighting issue to an entirely different level. We’re talking about short-and-long-term damage to the brain, the very foundation of who we are as people.

Nader's letter goes on to acknowledge the lack of any proof of direct causality between fighting and such brain issues as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (better known as CTE). He also cites the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak and Rick Rypien and the possibility that brain trauma played a part on their deaths.

Nader goes on.

Your league has created a department of player safety. That’s well and good. But a quick question: How can you continue to allow fighting, in which the primary target is the head of your opponent, and seriously make the argument that you’re doing all you can to make player safety a priority?

That's an issue that nobody can seem to answer and is a sticking point in the pro-fighting/anti-headshot stance the league has. It's a bit hard to justify letting guys punch each other's heads while stopping players from hitting each other's heads. It's a bit of a contradiction, to be sure.

In closing, here is what Nader writes.

On behalf of hockey players everywhere – and their families — here’s hoping you have the strength and courage to take this decisive step.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader, Founder, League of Fans

I didn't know that Nader represented hockey players and their families. As a matter of fact, from just about everything I've seen and read, players almost unanimously don't want fighting out of the sport. So asking for the league to do something that they don't want done on their behalf? Doesn't jive with me.

It is and remains a worthwhile cause to discuss in hockey. As long as the sport is played fighting and its place in the game will be debated.

But I'd think Nader has a better chance of moving into the White House than the NHL deciding that his letter was the one to push them to change their stance on fighting.

H/t to All Things Avs

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 5, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2012 1:28 pm
 

Report: Seattle already in talks for new arena

Key Arena (front right) isn't suitable for an NHL franchise.

By Brian Stubits

It seems like we've been talking about this for a decade, but it really feels like the Coyotes situation in is coming to a head, that this will be their last season in the desert if they can't get anything figured out to keep the team where it is in the next two or so months.

Of course you have to answer the question of where would they move before you can think about moving the Coyotes. There has to be a place to play. One of the most-discussed markets is Seattle (along with Quebec City and Kansas City a little bit). But Seattle doesn't have a suitable arena, that's why they lost the SuperSonics in the NBA to Oklahoma City. Key Arena is just too out of date.

There has been a lot of talk about new cites that could host an arena in the area and some potential people to help finance it.

Turns out there's more than talk at this point, there's action from Seattle's end.

According to the Seattle Times a San Francisco hedge-fund manager who grew up in Seattle has been in talks with the city of Seattle about building a new, state-of-the-art arena south of Downtown by CenturyLink Field (NFL's Seahawks and MLS' Sounders) and Safeco Field (MLB's Mariners).

A Dec. 13 agenda for a meeting between the parties shows they were talking about details such as a "Review of Basic Deal Structure," "Financing Issues," including "City Debt Capacity," and "Security for Public Financing."

The documents, released Friday to The Seattle Times under a public-disclosure request, also provide the first glimpse of how the largely unknown hedge-fund manager, 44-year-old Seattle native Christopher Hansen, approached the city about his desire to buy an NBA team and build an arena south of Safeco Field.

In an initial email laying out his vision, Hansen told city officials an arena could be built with minimal impact on taxpayers.

The driving force behind the push for a new arena is so that the city can get the Sonics back, with the Sacramento Kings being the likely target. As part of the agreement of the Sonics vacating the city was that it would retain the rights to the Sonics name and logo should the NBA return to Seattle.

But our concern here isn't with the NBA, it's obviously hockey. The Times article notes that it is believed a hockey team would vastly improve the viability of a new arena and would be pretty crucial to its financial success.

If Seattle can solidify plans for a new arena or even break ground it immediately becomes a viable suitor for an NHL franchise. Key Arena isn't ideal, but it could potentially serve as a temporary home while a new arena is finished. The cavernous Tacoma Dome some 30 miles south of Seattle could also be a possibility, but highly unlikely. As somebody who grew up watching games at the Tacoma Dome, it isn't great for hockey at all, and that was very minor-league hockey.

The NHL has supposedly been fond of Seattle as a host city. It would have a natural rivalry with the Canucks some two-plus hours up I-5, it's a somewhat cold-weather city that does have a hockey history to speak of as well. For years it has been home to the Thunderbirds in the WHL and nearby Everett also hosts a WHL team. Aforementioned Tacoma has also had a couple of teams. Plus, Seattle was the first city in the United States to win the Stanley Cup.

"There are a lot of people who think Seattle would be a great place to have a team. The Pacific Northwest, the natural rivalry with Vancouver, another team in the Pacific time zone ... but there's no building," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently told ESPN.com.

As we saw when the Sonics left, getting an arena with public finances in Seattle is a very tough proposition. There is a law in the city that requires any deal the city has regarding an arena has to be profitable for the city. So that's to say things are still a ways off for Seattle and a new arena, but this revelation makes it sound a lot further along than people thought.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 2, 2012 8:38 pm
 

Gary Bettman comments on LA clock controversy



By: Adam Gretz

Everybody has an opinion or a thought on what took place in Los Angeles on Wednesday night when the clock appeared to stop just prior to Drew Doughty's game-winning goal with 0.4 seconds remaining in the game.

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi offered a scientific explanation. Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson shared his thoughts in a blog post on the Blue Jackets website that has since been deleted (but don't worry, the Internet never forgets).

And now NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has weighed in on the controversey, via NHL.com, and unlike Lombardi, did not include "coulombs" as part of his statement:

"Not good, not acceptable -- if [the clock] had run straight through, the game would have been at a tie at that point, would have gone to overtime. And maybe L.A. would have won anyway, maybe not. That's not the point. We are taking this very seriously. We're investigating as to how it happened. Obviously it's either human error or a technology glitch. We don't know which, but we've already begun investigating and we will get to the bottom of it.

"Now I know lots of people are going to say, 'How can you have a mistake?' Well, unfortunately or fortunately, our game is full of mistakes -- by players, by coaches and occasionally by officials -- and on some levels it's no different than if a guy makes a bad penalty call, puts a team on the power play and they score the winning goal. It happens. We don't like when it happens and our job is to minimize mistakes. We don't want any, but obviously when you have a human element in any aspect of the game you're going to have it.

"If we had any reason to believe that this was intentional we would deal with it in a whole different way, but we're going to investigate it, get to the bottom of it."

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Clock error helps Kings, Jackets GM Responds
Lombardi's explanation

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:02 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:03 am
 

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

Fans watch closely during a recent shootout in Edmonton. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

If you are like most hockey fans, you hate the shootout. If I were to gather based on reactions every time a game goes into the shootout, I don't know if hate is even a strong enough word.

Well if you haven't reached that point already, you might want to come to terms with it because it's not going anywhere according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"All the research that we do on a regular basis tells us overwhelmingly our fans like the shootout," Bettman told the Associated Press this weekend in Ottawa. "We're looking at numbers in the 70 and 80 percent approval range, which on any question is an extraordinarily high number. Anecdotally, I try to go to a game at least once in every building, and when you see an overtime game that goes to the shootout, the reaction in the building is sensational. Everybody's on their feet."

As part of the "70 or 80 percent" who approve -- I know, I know -- not even I buy those numbers. But what I can't dispute is the last point that Bettman brings up about everybody coming to their feet for the shootout.

Either Wild coach Mike Yeo is toeing the company line or he enjoys the shootout, something his team is familiar with.

"People want to see somebody win. They want to walk away without an empty feeling like, 'Wow, that was a really good tie tonight'," Yeo said. "You want to win and you don't want to lose, but when you lose it makes the wins that much better. That's what we're here for: to win hockey games."

Anaheim Ducks forward and last year's Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry is on record as saying he has no problem with the shootout either.

"It's exciting, and people want to see that. They want to see one-on-one action," Perry told the AP. "I don't mind it. You've got your best players out there taking shots and trying to win for your team. Guys like that in this game. They want that pressure."

Of course, not everybody is on the same page in the NHL.

"I have mixed feelings about it," Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said. "The shootout is very random, because it's not really involving the whole team. I think that's probably the most difficult thing, so if you have a core group of guys that aren't doing well in the shootout, then there's a lot of blame on certain people. But it is better than having nobody win the game. I think at the end of the day you're trying to sell tickets and being able to give a result to somebody is probably pretty good."

That doesn’t mean that the overtime rules will stay just the way they are. I'd expect conversations to continue among the powers that be about possibly going to 3-on-3 in overtime after a few minutes if no goal has been scored, reducing the chances of a shootout, as they experimented with this summer.

Having said I am one of those that does enjoy the shootout and its presence, I'm still in favor of changing the point system. I think a lot of the frustration fans have over the shootout would be taken away if they converted to a 3-2-1-0 point system (three points for a regulation win, two for an OT/shootout win, one for an OT/shootout loss, and nada for a regulation loss).

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Category: NHL
Posted on: January 3, 2012 3:39 pm
 

Leafs coach Wilson echoes Tortorella's remarks

By Brian Stubits

Even after his New York Rangers won the Winter Classic on Monday in Philadelphia, coach John Tortorella still had reason to complain. Let's just say he wasn't fond of the officiating that included a penalty shot being awarded to the Flyers with 19.6 seconds to go.

Asked after the game what his thoughts were about the calls at the end of the game, Torts didn't hold back. You can see it beginning at the 8:45 mark in the video below.

For the audio impaired, here's a refresher on what he said.

"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs or what to turn this into an overtime game," Tortorella said afterward. "It started with the non-call on Gabby's [Marian Gaborik] walk, he gets pitch-forked in the stomach and then everything starts going against us.

"For two good referees, I thought the game was reffed horribly. I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe they did want to get it to an overtime. I'm not sure if they have meetings about that or what. They're good guys, I just thought tonight, in that third period, it was disgusting."

Gary Bettman was on that same podium just a few minutes earlier. You know that caught the attention of the league offices and Torts could end up paying for what he said -- literally. That in spite of the fact that a lot of people would agree with Tortorella's view of the officiating. Including Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson.

"I kind of agreed with Torts at the end and his postgame comments," Wilson said on Tuesday. "I was wondering what the heck was going on."

Presumably, Wilson is just a neutral third party watching the game as an experienced hockey man making that observation. Of course, when you are a head coach, the expectations are different. If Tortorella is fined for his remarks, you might expect that Wilson will at least get a talking to that he shouldn't make such comments.

However they're only saying what a lot of people were thinking.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:31 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 1:50 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

By Brian Stubits

Look what the Winnipeg Jets started.

Realignment is coming to the NHL, and as was predicted, it's of the "total" variety.

Easy but incomplete ideas were floated (swapping either Detroit, Nashville or Columbus with Winnipeg in the Southeast and calling it a day), but in the end it was the big idea that won out. With Gary Bettman pushing it, you knew it would.

Gone are the days of divisions in hockey. The NHL will return to four conferences starting next season (names undetermined as of yet, but you can bet they will likely be historic). Two of the four divisions will have eight teams, two will have seven. The first two rounds of the playoffs will be played entirely within the conference before re-seeding in the third round, or Final Four, if you will. The NHL hasn't said yet how it plans to re-seed at that point, a decision will come later regarding that part.

It will also bring a schedule where every team will play a home and away with every other team.

Here is the proposal that was passed in a little less than an hour and with a 26-4 vote.

I can hear everybody now. Why didn't they just go the easy route? The short answer: politics. Well that and time zones.

"We had a number of clubs that were unhappy with the current state of affairs," commissioner Bettman said at the news conference to announce the realignment.

The Detroit Red Wings have a lot of clout. As an Original Six team who has done a lot of winning, that comes with the territory. They have long wanted to move to the East and have been very vocal about Bettman promising as such. That's complication No. 1 and it's alleviated. The Red Wings now will only play one game at each Western Canada and California arena.

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The same goes for the Blue Jackets, who don't carry the same clout but had the same concerns.

"This is a fantastic night for the Blue Jackets," Blue Jackets president Mike Priest said.

Complication No. 2 was the existence of teams like the Dallas Stars playing their road games two time zones away or in the case of the Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets, playing a lot of road games three time zones away. By this grouping, teams are grouped with much more consideration to time zones. So while the idea of an Eastern Conference and Western Conference are gone, the Red Wings and Jackets get their end goal and will play with teams in the Eastern time zone and Central time zone a lot more.

Complication No. 3? Detroit isn't in the Southeast. But you knew that.

So we end up with this layout. There are honestly a lot more positives than negatives in this. The biggest consideration, time zones, was taken care of. Now the teams out West won't feel as big of a disadvantage as they do now. Despite having more teams in their new conferences, it was an easy sell for for the 15 teams that currently call the Western Conference home.

This really does seem like the best solution to please the most teams. The biggest problems I see? First is for the teams in the two eight-team conferences. They face longer odds than the other half of the league to make the postseason.

The second? The only teams that really seemed to get jobbed by the arrangement are the two teams in Florida, the Panthers and Lightning. Not counting each other, their closest division foes are in Buffalo and Boston.

Of course, one benefit to this new design is that it allows for flexibility in the case of the Phoenix Coyotes moving East. It would be as simple as putting them in a seven-team conference with the other Canadian teams if they were to, say, move to Quebec City.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 4, 2011 12:11 pm
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

By Brian Stubits

In the next few days, we might actually have some serious progression in the realignment talks. The Board of Governors are going to discuss that (among other things) in the next few days in Pebble Beach, Calif. ... assuming they can stay off the links.

Entering the meetings, there appeared to be two principle ideas at play in the realignment talks. The first was the simplest, moving Winnipeg to the West and putting Detroit in the Southeast, a one-way swap and that's it. Simple, clean-cut, but a bit messy when it's done. Teams in the West don't want to lose the Red Wings and they don't exactly seem to fit with the Southeast Division.

That led to a lot of people favoring a more "total realignment" in which the six-division format would be blown up in favor of a four-division look and balanced schedule. Heading into the meetings, this was considered to be the proposal for the four-division look. But the Penguins and Flyers weren'texactly on board with that one.

Now we have another idea floating, according to Elliote Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada. This one is the same concept as the previous four-conference (notice the change in language) look, it just moves the teams separately. Notice how the Flyers and Penguins stay together along with the New York-area, Atlantic Division teams while Washington and Carolina join them. That leaves the five Northeast Division teams to join the two remaining Southeast Division teams in Florida, the Panthers and Lightning.

What's interesting to notice is that, in continuing to view it as an East and a West, the West becomes the bigger "conference." The two divisions with eight teams would be made up by the teams already in the West and Winnipeg, the reason for the card shuffling.

There is only so much you can do with the teams in the East while trying to keep the ones smack dab in the middle, geographically speaking, together. It does seem a bit inconvenient to put the two teams from Florida with the Canadian and Northeast teams. They already travel a lot, this would probably only increase that.

But they might fit a little better than you would originally think. There are large snowbird populations in Florida during the hockey season, and having lived in South Florida for nine years, I can tell you a lot of them hail from Quebec. Try and get tickets the day before a Canadiens-Panthers game at the BankAtlantic Center. You can't (at least through traditional means), the game will be sold out.

So this now begins to look like a slam dunk, right? The Red Wings at least get their home-and-home series with every team in the league, the Stars get into a more time-zone friendly "conference" and the playoffs return to their old divisional format and there is flexibility for a possible move of the Coyotes. All is good, right?

Not entirely.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that while they don't actually have a say in the matter, the NHL Players Association isn't fond of the plan. The reason? This will increase travelling for just about every team. That's one argument.

The other is the unfair nature of two divisions of eight and two divisions of seven. The teams in the seven-division format have greater odds to make the postseason. That's one reason why baseball recently flipped the Houston Astros to the American League West, to even out the odds of postseason play.

But something has to get done. No plan will sit well with every team involved, that's obvious. Remember, they just need to get a 2/3 majority among the BOG to push through a plan.

This one here seems as good as any. You could be looking at the future alignment of the NHL.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com