SBD/March 11, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Bettman Talks Olympic Participation, Head Injuries With NBC News' David Gregory

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman last week sat down with NBC News' David Gregory to discuss the future of the sport, including the ongoing issue of whether NHL players will compete in the '18 Pyeongchang Games. Bettman said, "This isn't the first time we've have to deal with this decision. We've been to five Olympics, and after each Olympics we have to take a deep breath and decide whether or not it makes sense." He noted league officials have yet to have any "serious discussions or any deliberations about what we're going to do next," as the focus currently is on the "stretch run for our regular season and the playoffs." Bettman noted the NHL has taken the issue of concussions "very seriously now for 17 years" since establishing a study group between players, trainers and doctors. Bettman: "We think we've been trying to set the standard and make the game as safe as possible." Several former players in November sued the league, claiming it has not done enough to prevent head injuries. The NFL dealt with a similar lawsuit before settling last August, and Bettman said, "The NFL will deal with its litigation and we'll deal with ours. But we think our record has not only been strong and solid, we've been the most proactive in dealing with this issue." Meanwhile, he noted the league has a "sensible" CBA that allows all teams "to be competitive and afford to be competitive, which gives the competitive balance." The league has had two work stoppages in the last 10 years, and Bettman said "nobody likes labor strife." But he added, "You have to have a system that makes sense, and sometimes in labor relations you have to go through some short-term pain to get to the right place" ("Meet The Press," NBCNEWS.com, 3/7).
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