SBD/Issue 37/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Bettman Says NHL Is Not Interested In Exploring Contraction

Bettman Says Woes In Phoenix Do Not
Mean The NHL In General Is In Trouble

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said putting the idea of franchise contraction on the bargaining table is "not something we're interested in exploring," according to Nicholas Cotsonika of YAHOO SPORTS. NBA Commissioner David Stern last month suggested that contraction could be an option for the NBA, but Bettman said, "We don’t think it’s necessary in our case. We don’t think it’s appropriate in our case." He continued, "When a franchise is -- or a couple of franchises are -- in trouble, we can’t paint it with one broad brush. The fact is, where we are in Phoenix is unique to Phoenix. ... So I don’t see any reason for us to be discussing contracting." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly addressed low attendance for Coyotes games at Jobing.com Arena, saying, "With so much uncertainty surrounding the franchise, it’s unfair to test the market on the basis of where that franchise exists now. Obviously if we transition to new ownership and secure the franchise long-term in Phoenix, I think you’ll see a significant uptick in how the fans respond to the club." Bettman said, "To segue, I don’t see any reason why anybody who covers our game is focused at all on collective bargaining. I mean, we’re starting to get those questions. There are three other leagues that go before we do. We’ve got two years." Bettman said he and presumptive NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr have talked "periodically over the last few months." Bettman: "Really informally. I think he is probably waiting and would be more comfortable till the point in time where he’s officially the executive director. And from our standpoint, we really need for the union to tell us officially who we’re going to be dealing with." When asked if he had "discussed any concrete business" with Fehr, Bettman said, "No" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/29).

GAME MISCONDUCT: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote the "culture of violence is still alive and well in hockey and it continues to be perpetuated and sold by the NHL." On NHL.com, fans "can view highlights of any number of fights in all their high-definition glory." Campbell noted an "unofficial count of the number of fights archived so far by NHL.com this season is 21," including an Oct. 9 skirmish that the website titles, "Clarkson Cleans A Clock." NHL.com notes how Devils RW David Clarkson "tries to inspire a flat Devils team in a third period slobber-knocker versus Jason Chimera." Campbell wrote what "makes all this even more insipid is that when Bettman talks about fighting, he frames it as a necessary component of an emotional game." The commissioner will "maintain the league does not glorify it or revel in it, but then allows fisticuffs to be displayed on its website for all to see" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 11/1).

TIME TO TAKE A STAND: On Long Island, Arthur Staple wrote NHL GMs need to "take steps to punish players who use sexual slurs, especially those with homophobic connotations." The league last month suspended Islanders D James Wisniewski for two games after he "made an obscene gesture" during a game. NHL Dir of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said, "We don't want to become the morality police. It's up to the (general) managers to provide some guidelines." But Staple noted the NHL "already has guidelines on certain words," including a ban on racial taunts, so "why not sexual ones as well?" Staple: "Bullying of teens, gay and straight, has become the focus of national outrage, and the NHL would be wise to get in step with the movement" (NEWSDAY, 10/30).

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