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NHL

Gary Bettman yet to speak with Stars CEO about tirade

| Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, 10:18 p.m.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made several announcements during the Winter Classic on Tuesday.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made several announcements during the Winter Classic on Tuesday.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he hasn’t reached out to the Dallas Stars about CEO Jim Lites’ expletive-laced criticism of high-priced forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

Lites ripped Benn and Seguin on Friday, telling reporters their play has been “terrible” and saying owner Tom Gaglardi was frustrated as well. The NHL players’ union called the comments “reckless and insulting,” but Bettman sounded as if he wanted to stay out of the situation.

“We’re never going to condone profanity,” Bettman said during Boston’s 4-2 victory over Chicago in the Winter Classic on Tuesday. “As a general rule I don’t interfere in team dynamics, internal team dynamics.

“I’ve known Jim Lites for as long as I’ve been in the NHL, and I know him to be passionate. I also respect the fact that Jamie and Tyler are terrific players and have done a great deal to grow the game in North America, particularly in Texas. … I think we saw some frustration there. That comes from the fact that people are very competitive and want to do better.”

Bettman made his remarks after announcing the Stars will host the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl in Texas. He also said the Colorado Avalanche will play at Air Force Academy on Feb. 15, 2020, as part of the Stadium Series, but the league wasn’t ready to announce the opponents for those two outdoor games.

“We’ll focus on those the next few weeks,” Bettman said.

The NHL All-Star festivities are heading to St. Louis for the third time. The Blues also hosted the event in 1970 and 1988.

“St. Louis was a great host for the Winter Classic we recently had there,” Bettman said. “In the final analysis, including the renovation at the Enterprise Center they’ve done, it made it the right time for us to go back.”

The Heritage Classic returns on Oct. 26 when the Winnipeg Jets play the Calgary Flames at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.

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