NHL commissioner Gary Bettman takes in a Stanley Cup playoff game in every city. He started this postseason tour in Pittsburgh with Game 1 of an opening-round series between the Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. He made time for a few questions from the Tribune-Review:
Q: What did you like about the Player Safety Department under Brendan Shanahan, and what element must continue with his eventual full-time replacement?
A: What I like is that he created it. No, seriously. He put in place a series of systems, the department and personnel — and I believe that we, through the creation of that department, have begun to effectuate a change in the culture of the game in terms of types of hits that are out of the game now. You can show a lot of video of players not making certain hits that they would have made years ago.
Q: Are you comfortable with the new playoff system?
A: When you look at how the regular season played out, it was extraordinarily exciting. That's a testament to our competitive balance. Some of these (first-round) matchups are phenomenal. In this one, you've got a great rivalry going to the next level, as playoff matchups tend to do. (Pittsburgh and Columbus) are 180 miles apart. It's great. We've got the Flyers and Rangers, and Detroit playing Boston for the first time since 1957. It's intriguing and fun.
Q: Do you favor future regular-season schedules with more division games, or at least more of those late in the season?
A: No, I think what we have now we'll continue to test drive. The early signs are good. Everything's balanced. There's no perfection when you have a series of variables — some of which, like geographical location of your franchisees, you have no control over.
Q: Have you made any decision on future NHL participation with the Olympics?
A: From the moment we left Sochi (Russia), we have not given the Olympics any thought. You hear some of the clubs suggesting players are tired and worn out. Particularly, you look at teams that had 10 or nine players. (St. Louis coach) Ken Hitchcock was quoted the other day and said (the Blues) ran out of gas a little bit and they're looking to rejuvenate for playoffs. It has an impact with injuries and fatigue.
Q: Do you still have plans for a World Cup of hockey?
A: It's something we've repeatedly said we're interested in. We've been in discussion with the Players Association, which obviously is our partner in this. We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do. We're waiting for the PA to sign off.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.