Bettman 'intrigued' by possible outdoor game at Beaver Stadium

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to reporters before a game between the Penguins and the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Washington.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to reporters before a game between the Penguins and the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Washington.
Photo by AP
| Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, 10:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A potential outdoor hockey game between the Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers at Penn State's Beaver Stadium has been discussed, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Trib Total Media.

But it also doesn't appear imminent.

“There's been talk about it,” Bettman said following his formal media availability at Verizon Center. “I'm intrigued by the possibility. But it's not anywhere close to fruition.”

Bettman was in D.C. to attend a conference for The Aspen Institute's Project Play, a cause for which he serves on one of the panels. He attended Wednesday's game and before it discussed a variety of topics with reporters, including:

• Alex Ovechkin's two-handed swing at Kris Letang

• The timing of the trade deadline

• Advanced stats

• Possible expansion

• The salary cap

• Legalized gambling

First, Letang and Ovechkin. Bettman mainly toed the company line, explaining how the NHL pays people to investigate such things. He did agree with the determination that no supplemental discipline was warranted.

“The fact of the matter is that play, like other plays that catch their interest, get reviewed and analyzed,” Bettman said. “It was determined that no supplemental discipline was necessary or appropriate or required under the circumstances.

“There will be an ongoing debate about that, passionate depending on who you root for, and I respect that. But the people we entrust to make those decisions looked at it carefully and made a decision that I'm comfortable with.”

Bettman said the timing of the trade deadline — Monday at 3 p.m. — is OK. Not great, just OK.

“I wouldn't want to see it any later,” Bettman said. “If I had my druthers, maybe a little earlier. You don't want the final push to the playoffs to be too unduly influenced by when the trade deadline is.”

The NHL rolled out an advanced stats component to its website on Feb. 20. The initial feedback has been mostly good, Bettman said, though there have been stragglers.

“There are some traditionalists who are taking more of a wait-and-see attitude,” Bettman said. “If you're not into analytics, then don't use them. If you are into analytics, ultimately what we're going to provide you with is great storytelling, great fodder for discussing and great intellectual stimulation if you want to research some things that are of great interest to you.”

The NHL is “listening” to expansion efforts, Bettman said. Bill Foley's exploratory plan in Las Vegas has gone well — Bettman offered no specifics — but there hasn't been a ton of attention paid there. Ditto for candidates in Quebec City and Seattle.

Bettman has concerns about whether the NHL moves forward with legalized gambling, a topic NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been at the forefront of.

“This is a much bigger deal to basketball and football because that's where the bulk of the money's bet,” Bettman said. “For us, if you look at the Las Vegas take, we're about 1 percent.

“My bigger concern is twofold. What is the statement that we want to make about sports and professional athletes? Should young people who idolize athletes and focus on sports view it as a betting vehicle or view it as something different?

“Secondly, there's a concern about the environment in the building. There's nothing wrong with racetracks if you like those things, but I don't like that atmosphere compared to the atmosphere that we try to have in our buildings with our fans, particularly with a lot of young people.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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