Friday, May 28, 2010

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's "State of the League" presser

I can't find an embeddable video for easy access here on the blog, but this is the link to Commissioner Bettman's entire press conference at CBCSports.ca.

The Commish offered lots of juicy information, ranging from the obligatory NHL business overview, the salary cap (going up by $2MM), the announcement of the 2011 Winter Classic (Washington v. Pittsburgh at Heinz Field) and a 2011 outdoor Heritage Classic (Montreal at Calgary), the headshot rule, the relative stability of team ownership, the situation in Phoenix, his latent desire to do right by Winnipeg and Quebec, and his angst with the IIHF (who trashed the NHL players who passed on playing in the NIT World Championships).

Most interesting to me from a league perspective is the announcement of an August "Research and Development Camp," where 17-year-old prospects will test out potential rule changes on the ice in Toronto.  I'm very excited that the NHL is consistently looking to improve their game and wisely test the rule changes with live competition to see precisely how those changes will play out.

The other thing I found very interesting was the Commish's demeanor as the press conference went along - especially starting around the 14:30 mark when he started taking questions from the media.  The CBC video isn't the best, but you probably can see what I mean when it looked like Mr. Bettman was - what's the right word - shaking?  twitching? in his dialogue with the reporters.  I'm not sure that I've ever seen the Commish do a long-form "interview" like this before, so it was a bit surprising.  One could chalk it up to nerves, agitation, fatigue, etc., but he's no spring chicken and has been running the NHL for almost 20 years.  I'm a bit surprised that he wasn't asked about his health and/or personal plans vis a vis his current job.

Anyway, it's good stuff if you're interested in the meta-issues of the NHL.  Must watch!

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