Category:NHL
Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:58 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 4:14 am
 

Report: Gary Bettman gets five-year extension

This could be why Gary Bettman doesn't seem bothered by the backlash the league has received for its decision not to suspend Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, the latest tumult in his 18-year tenure as NHL Commissioner. 

Bettman had his contract quietly extended five more years back in November, The Globe and Mail reported Friday. The newspaper reports that the nine-member executive committee unanimously approved the extension. 

Bettman's current contract, which pays him $7.2 million annually, was originally set to expire this summer. Apparenlty, one of his biggest backers may very well be the owner of the team at the center of this week's controversy.
What will surely fire up the conspiracy theorists, who have been venting loudly on all forms of media following Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens, is the identity of the driving force behind Bettman’s new contract. It is Jeremy Jacobs, the NHL’s chairman of the board of governors who just happens to own the Boston Bruins, the team that employs Chara. However, as chairman, one of Jacobs’s duties is to keep the commissioner and the other key executives of the NHL under contract.

Bettman confirmed via e-mail he received an extension. “Old news. I believe my contract has been extended four times, each time with the approval of the board of governors,” he said.


Bettman, who was part of a panel convened to promote hockey on Capitol Hill on Thursday, didn't sweat the fact that Air Canada and seemingly all of Quebec was angered the league didn't give Chara at least a token suspension. Here's a look at that video

Bettman has never been a fan-favorite. He gets blamed for the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season, his efforts to keep the Phoenix Coyotes from moving to Canada, his expansion to non-traditional markets, the fact that the NHL is no longer on ESPN and even the glowing puck. Since he's the guy at the top, he also gets his share of the blame for what often seems to be uneven discipline -- even if the former NBA exec leaves those issues to his hockey operations staff. 

Lost is the fact that Bettman is popular among the only contingent that counts: the league's 30  owners. (OK. The league runs the Coyotes, so that one is a given.). He's gotten them a salary cap and the league, overall, is strong financially. 
Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:25 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 8:50 am
 

Morning Skate: Canucks, Sharks don't disappoint




An overtime with only four skaters per side, the shootout and the date were the only elements that ruined the illusion Thursday's Vancouver Canucks-San Jose Sharks tilt wasn't a playoff game. 

The Sharks, who trailed by two goals early, tied the game on three occasions -- the last with 20.3 seconds left as Ryane Clowe's one-timer beat Cory Schneider as his counterpart, Antti Niemi, sat in favor of the extra attacker. (It was actually 6-on-4 since the Sharks were on the power play.) The Canucks won the game, 5-4, as Schneider was perfect in the shootout and Vancouver's Alex Burrows scored the only goal. 

For two teams who could meet in the postseason for the first time, it didn't get much better for the second week of March. 

“It really was (a playoff vibe),” Sharks captain Joe Thornton told reporters after the game. “These are two really good teams. We're on our end still fighting for our playoff lives, so we need to get as many points as we can. The atmosphere was great and it was an exciting game to be a part of.”

The Pacific Division-leading Sharks pulled within a point of Detroit Red Wings, who sit second in the Western Conference. Still, the Sharks are also seven points away from falling to ninth place and out of playoff picture. 

Vancouver, meanwhile, has won four in a row and remains seven points ahead of Philadelphia in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. 

Schneider again showed he's not a bad second option as starter Robert Luongo rested. He made 44 saves, probably none better than when Clowe directed a crossing pass that Schneider somehow got his right pad on early in OT. It was one of his nine saves in the extra frame as the Canucks, who have the second-best best penalty kill in the NHL, snuffed out a Ryan Kesler high-sticking penalty. 

"Tonight you could say they were the better team on the ice," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told The Associated Press. "But at the end of the night, our goaltender kept us in the game and we found a way to win."

Line Changes
  • Injured Max Pacioretty joins Twitter
  • Eye on Hockey: Habs owner critical on NHL
  • Eye on Hockey: Bettman defends Chara decision
  • Eye on Hockey:Kubina suspended 3 games
  • Blues' Halak beats former club


  • THORNTON, SEDIN WEIGH IN: Thornton may have a little ax to grind when it comes to the team he traded him. Henrik Sedin, the usually soft-spoken Vancouver Canucks captain, doesn't wade into controversies often. 

    But before Thursday game, each came to the same conclusion: The NHL got it wrong by not suspending Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for his check that led to the scary injuries to Montreal's Max Pacioretty. Here are Thornton's comments via The Vancouver Sun.

    “It's just something with Boston; it seems like they have a horse shoe,” Thornton said. “There's just something about Boston and the disciplinary (decisions) are on their side. I'm not sure why that is or anything. I'm not assuming that Colin's kid being on the team, that's why.”



    That was Thornton's not-so-subtle jab at league disciplinarian Colin Campbell, whose son, Gregory, plays for the Bruins. It was his second in command, Mike Murphy, who made the call not to fine or suspend Chara as Campbell recused himself. 

    Thornton's comments weren't exactly a hit in Boston. 

    “Win a big game when it counts,” Boston TV analyst Mike Milbury retorted. 

    Sedin, however, backed up Thornton’s sentiments and said the fact that Chara isn't considered a dirty play should not have entered into Murphy's decision like it did. 

    “Exactly,” Sedin said. “What are you doing to do the next time Trevor Gillies comes down and runs a guy into the thing? You can't give him anything. And you tell the guys (Chara) has no history, so the next time he does it he still has no history because he didn't get suspended. I don't see the reasoning behind it. Give him at least something to show that's not acceptable.”


    THURSDAY'S RESULTS
    Buffalo 4, Boston 3 (OT)
    Philadelphia 3, Toronto 2 
    Ottawa  2, Florida 1 
    Nashville 4, Minnesota 0 
    St. Louis 4, Montreal 1
    Phoenix 3, Calgary 0 
    Vancouver 5, San Jose 4 (SO)
    CBSSports.com playoff tracker

    Photo: Getty Images

    Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:33 pm
    Edited on: March 10, 2011 4:38 pm
     

    Habs owner: 'Faith' in NHL shaken over Chara flap



    Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson wrote in an open letter released Thursday that he shared fans' “frustration, disappointment and shock” with the NHL’s decision not to suspend Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for a hit that led to serious injuries to Habs forward Max Pacioretty.

    “The news of the NHL decision yesterday was a hard blow for both the players and fans of the Montreal Canadiens,” Molson wrote. “It was one which shook the faith that we, as a community, have in this sport that we hold in such high regard.

    “The Montreal Canadiens organization does not agree with the decision taken yesterday by the National Hockey League. We can assure you that we have made our position clear to Commissioner Gary Bettman, and that he has agreed to make this issue a priority at the next General Manager’s meeting, which will be held in Florida on March 14-16.  Pierre Gauthier, our General Manager, will be present at this meeting and has already expressed his wish to carry out, clearly, our message to his 29 counterparts and to the League.”

    Molson (above with former Habs player Alexei Kovalev) did not say whether the organization was in favor of a police investigation launched into the incident. 

    The full letter can be found here
    Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:00 pm
     

    Playoff Watch: Chara, Bruins get back to hockey



    Buffalo Sabres (32-26-8) at Boston Bruins (38-20-10)

    TD Garden, 7 pm ET

    SEASON SERIES: Buffalo 3-1-1; Boston 2-2-1

    IMPLICATIONS: The Sabres could move up a spot to seventh, displacing the idle New York Rangers. (Both would have 74 points, but Buffalo gets the edge with two games in hand after tonight.) The Bruins could advance to second place in the East with a victory. (Boston and idle Washington would each have 86 points, but the Bruins would have a game in hand.) Here's a look at our plaoff tracker.

    BREAKDOWN: Despite all the outcry, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will indeed be in the lineup tonight. He told CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty that he was “relieved” that he would not sit for his check Tuesday night that seriously injured Montreal’s Max Pacioretty

    "I’m satisfied and happy about it. Relieved,” Chara said. “They looked at it and made a decision, and I respect that.”

    While Pacioretty’s injury understandably took the spotlight off the scoreboard, the Bruins 4-1 loss was a rare hiccup of late. Still, the Bruins enter 7-1-1 in their last nine games.

    Buffalo is 3-1-1 through the first six games of its seven-game, 12-day trip. The Sabres will get winger Thomas Vanek back in the lineup tonight after he missed Tuesday’s game with flu-like symptoms. 

    MATCHUP TO WATCH: Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller vs. Boston goalie Tim Thomas. These two former teammates from the Team USA’s silver-medal run at last year’s Winter Olympics are both on their game. Thomas, who may have been injured in practice and sat out Tuesday’s game in Montreal, is 14-4-4 in his last 22 games and hasn’t been beaten in regulation over this last four starts. Miller made 28 saves in a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, his first start since getting a rare night off last weekend. 

    KEY STAT: 6. Among the Sabres' final 16 games, that's how many teams are currenlty in the playoff picture. 

    Photo: Getty Images
    Posted on: March 10, 2011 2:56 pm
    Edited on: March 10, 2011 6:50 pm
     

    Kubina gets three-game ban for hit on Bolland

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina received a three-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland, the NHL announced Thursday. 

    The collision occurred two minutes into Wednesday’s game and no penalty was assessed on the play. Bolland went to the locker room and did not return.

    Kubina will forfeit $60,096.76 in salary and be eligible to return March 17 for a game against the Montreal Canadiens

    UPDATE: Here's a statement from Kubina just released by the Lightning:

    “I understand the decision rendered by the National Hockey League today and I will fully abide by the ruling. I had no intent to injure David (Bolland) and I hope he can return to the ice quickly. I didn’t realize he was injured on the play until being notified by the NHL that a hearing would take place to review the hit. 

    “I have played nearly 900 games in the NHL and my history and record demonstrates that I am not the type of player that ever attempts to injure other players. I am sorry David was hurt on the play. 

    “I look forward to rejoining my teammates in Montreal next Thursday as we continue our push for the playoffs, and I hope David returns to the ice soon to join the Blackhawks.”

    Posted on: March 10, 2011 2:32 pm
    Edited on: March 10, 2011 4:08 pm
     

    Bettman: NHL 'comfortable' with Chara decision



    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday he backs the league's decision not to suspend Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara, even as many fans and sponsors were angered no punishment was meted out for the check that left Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty injured. 

    “Our hockey operations people are extraordinarily comfortable with the decision that has been made,” Bettman said in a briefing designed to promote the game of hockey on Capitol Hill. “I think it was a horrific injury. We are sorry it happened in our fast-paced, physical game. But I don't think whether or not supplemental discipline is imposed would change what happened. In fact, people in the game I've heard from almost to a person . . . believe it was handled appropriately by hockey operations.”

    Obviously, Bettman hasn't spoken to  Pacioretty, who suffered a fractured vertraba in his neck and a severe concussion after a check from Chrara Tuesday night sent him headfirst into a divider between the benches. (Here's a link to the video.)  He told TSN's Bob McKenzie that he thought Chara deserved at least a couple games for the check. 

    Just because the league failed to act, Chara may not be totally off the hook. 

    Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions said was recommending an investigation of the incident, according to French-language news outlet  Rue Frontenac. The investigation will begin immediately, Montreal police Constable Olivier Lapointe, told  The Montreal Gazette.

    The Canadian Press reports Quebec has pursued three criminal cases in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League players since 2008, most notably Atlanta Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier. The province has instituted strict laws in recent years in an attempt to curb hocky violence, which could come into play in Tuesday's incident.

    Here's a link to video Bettman at the panel discussion in Washington on Thursday via TSN.

    Photo: Getty Images

    Posted on: March 10, 2011 2:15 am
    Edited on: March 10, 2011 1:11 pm
     

    Morning Skate: Pacioretty says Chara had intent



    Count Max Pacioretty among those in and around Montreal miffed that Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara escaped a fine or suspension on Wednesday. 

    The 22-year-old Montreal Canadiens forward told TSN’s Bob McKenzie exactly what he thought about the league’s decision: 

    "I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of (the hit) to suspend him," Pacioretty told me. "I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's okay, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.

    "It's been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I've got a fractured vertebrae, I'm in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something. I'm not talking a big number, I don't know, one game, two games, three games...whatever, but something to show that it's not right."


    Mike Murphy, the NHL’s Senior V.P of hockey operations, said in a statement Wednesday the league could “find no basis to impose supplemental discipline” against Chara. All Chara received for his check on Pacioretty that caused a severe concussion and a fracture bone in Pacioretty was a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct on Tuesday. Here's a link to the video of the hit.

    "I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle."


    The outrage was hardly limited to a patient room at Montreal General Hospital. Several fans called Montreal police to express their outrage, according to The Canadian Press

    The calls demanding criminal charges began Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the NHL announced it would neither suspend nor fine Chara for a brutal hit on the Habs' Max Pacioretty.

    While the league closed the books on the incident, and even Montreal Canadiens players remained tight-lipped, many of the team's livid fans demanded action.

    Police say their emergency call center started getting flooded around 4 p.m. -- after the NHL announced its decision.


    News of the inundation of emergency calls, also picked up by independent Bruins blog Stanley Cup of Chowder, is hardly surprising. Habs faithful took to Twitter to urge fans to “unfollow” the NHL’s official Twitter feed and cancel their Center Ice subscriptions. Canadian Sports Minister Gary Lunn urged the NHL needs to take such hits more seriously. Even Air Canada, a major corporate partner of the NHL, is threatening to withdraw its sponsorship dollars. 

    While there is precedence for it, there’s unlikely to be a criminal complaint filed against Chara -- especially if Pacioretty doesn’t pursue charges. 

    OVI BACK ON TRACK: He has points in six consecutive games. He finally scored his first power play goal at home this season. He seems to be his old jovial self on the bench.

    Is Washington Capitals superstar forward Alex Ovechkin finally back on his game?

    Ovechkin scored twice in the Caps' 5-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Verizon Center Wednesday night. Sure, the Oilers have the worst record in the league, but Ovechkin has played a role as Washington matched a season-best six game win streak.

    “I can’t remember (the team) scoring five goals in a game (recently),” said Ovechkin, who has three goals and seven assists over the last six games. “It was a good night for us and a good night for the fans too.”

    Ovechkin has 27 goals, so it's not out of the realm for him to reach 40 goals. It'd still be a career low, although he'd have some momentum heading into playoffs.

    WEDNESDAY'S RESULTS

    St. Louis 4, Columbus 3 (OT) 
    Washington 5, Edmonton 0 
    Atlanta 3, Carolina 2 (OT) 
    Tampa Bay 4, Chicago 3 (SO) 
    Los Angeles 2, Detroit 1 
    Calgary 4, Dallas 3 (SO) 
    Anaheim 5, NY Rangers
    Playoff tracker

    Photo: Getty Images
    Posted on: March 9, 2011 4:41 pm
    Edited on: March 9, 2011 6:01 pm
     

    Playoff Watch: Flames aim for Stars sweep



    Calgary Flames (35-24-9) at Dallas Stars (36-23-7)


    American Airlines Center, 9 pm ET

    SEASON SERIES: Calgary 3-0-0; Dallas 0-2-1

    IMPLICATIONS: Three teams -- Dallas, Phoenix and Calgary -- enter tied with 79 points in the tight Western Conference Standings. Either Calgary or Dallas will sit alone in fifth place since Phoenix is idle or, if Chicago loses to Tampa Bay, the winner of this contest would move to fourth. For our playoff tracker, click here

    BREAKDOWN: The Flames won the first three meetings by a combined score of 14-8. But Calgary will be without Brendan Morrison, the center who scored the game-winner in a 7-4 win over the Stars on Jan. 21, for the rest of the regular season with a knee injury. (Morrison told reporters Tuesday that he hopes to be back for the playoffs.) Meanwhile, the Stars will get center Brad Richards -- out with concussion-like symptoms since Feb. 13 -- back for tonight’s contest. 

    MATCHUP TO WATCH: Calgary RW Jarome Iginla vs. Dallas LW Jamie Benn. Iginla, who became the 10th player to score 30 or more goals for 10 consecutive seasons earlier this week, enters on a four-game goal streak. Benn also enters the same goal streak, the longest of his young career, and has two assists this season against the Flames. 

    KEY STAT: 13. The number of goals Mike Ribeiro has scored when the Stars were trailing by a goal or tied. 

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