NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Raleigh on Friday making his annual visit. While he was here he took a tour of the new downtown convention center as well as a couple of new hotels in the area. Before the game against Tampa Bay, he held a press conference and answered a few questions from the press.
The very first question asked was about the All Star game previously promised to the franchise. While the commissioner didn't give any specific date, he did say that the promise was still valid and that Raleigh would be "worked into the rotation." Some people are assuming it will be 2013 because that is about the earliest date available, but remember, no specific date was promised. The big question is, how many other cities has he promised to "work into the rotation"?
When asked about the economy and how it has affected the NHL, he said that original projections of growth of 7% had "softened" a bit, but they still were on target for about 5% growth from the previous season. The big unknown is what will happen next season and they will get a feeling of that as fans renew season tickets for next year and purchase playoff seats for this post season.
(video I took of the first part of the PC)
Bettman said that teams like the Hurricanes are smart to be proactive in offering deals such as the new "three year price lock-in" that the Canes have on the table right now.
When questioned about the possible organized crime fiasco in Montreal, he said that the NHL was performing their own due diligence process and that he would not have any comment about the situation until he had all the facts at his disposal. After he was pressed about it again, he repeated that of course they take any such allegations seriously, but just because there is a "story" about it, does not mean it is true. He had to wait for facts.
Someone asked him if the NHL had plans to expand in Europe anytime soon and his answer was "not at this time." While they think it is very important to play "games that count" in Europe every year, right now it is not feasible to go beyond that.
Another reporter brought up the Winter Classic and about the rumor that there might be two outdoor games next year. The commissioner stated that he felt confident that there would be another outdoor game next year, but nothing else had been discussed yet. While he just toured Yankee Stadium, and he felt that it would be a beautiful setting, nothing firm had been discussed so do not read anything into that. Bettman followed up by saying that there were plenty of possible locations for another Winter Classic with several interested parties wanting to participate.
It was a very interesting session with the league boss, but he really did not have any new specific news to share. People can speculate about how today's economy will affect the salary cap, or what year the All Star Game will finally come to the area, but the commissioner did not tip his hand.