3.2: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman with Greg Papa
Hockey league is still basking in the glow of arguably the greatest hockey tournament of all tied at twenty Ted Winter Olympics as it resumes its schedule. And match tonight with a dozen games. Right out of the gate we are gonna head to New York City you look at many NHL commissioner. Gary Bettman to chronicle live commissioner Greg -- in studio that -- so much for your time Mike Emmerich who called the game on Sunday said after the gold medal game what a great tribute to hockey it was congratulations. On two weeks of magnanimous. Hockey. There really wasn't it was a great tribute to what I think that the world's best athletes. Our players a 140 of them. Participated in this magnificent Olympic tournament and gain. The gold medal game on Sunday it was was sensational in a true representation of what NHL hockey is all about. You obviously have players sprinkles sprinkled across the entirety of the tournament's twelve teams but you you are based in North America 24 teams play. In the United States of America and sixer or based in Canada commissioners so. Was -- the perfect gold medal game from the -- -- perspective of having Canada play the United States of America. Obviously as you point dealt with a thirty franchises in Canada and in the United States having a North American based Olympic. Having Canada hosts they were truly -- at the Olympics. And having Canada. Playing the US generated the most amount of interest that you could expect from this tournament. Obviously we won the Olympic platform to help us grow the game worldwide but -- -- focusing on our core business of North America. This is the match up in the location that would generate the most interest. What was your reaction to the ratings in the United States of America obviously in -- they were off the charts 80% of all Canadians watched some portion of the game but this was not the most watched game. In the history of the United States state two previous games against Finland and against the Soviet Union back in the eighty Lake Placid Olympics a pass this -- -- what was your thought about this being the third most watched hockey game and our nation's history. Well I actually -- that it was the third most watched happy -- can get the most watched in thirty years. Obviously told me that. What had happened here was quite compelling. But it also if you look at the sports programming over the last decade or -- this is what a deal -- most watched events you know putting aside the NFL for a second. And so by any measure. This had been a huge compelling audience. I saw how does your league now -- on this great momentum for the sport and it what is your marketing plan that your -- gonna put in place sorority. Have in place to really captivate not so much Canada because they love this game soul. But the 24 franchises. And at the United States of America now. Well I think first and foremost simply by being at the Olympics. And getting the tremendous exposure we got with -- -- -- -- consistent with our -- the -- scale what's the reason. That we do the winter classic that we do the premier games that we have or -- of Las Vegas. But but the key to this was exposing. This large best audience that was tuning in for Olympic hockey to what is the NHL game. This was an NHL's. Playoff style game we were in the NHL arena on NHL ice basically playing NHL -- with the NHL officials -- NHL players. So where people casual fans sports fans who might not have to invest in for awhile. People who were were not even. Hockey fans at all now that exposed to our game and our DR rating last night on -- our first game back was up over a 100%. -- certainly felt like an NHL game at times but there were some subtle rule changes being ya know touch icing I thought was very. Interest ahead I'm wondering if your league is going to look into that more marked a long term the flow of the game obviously as much quicker you guys do a great job in the NHL -- vis a vis the other sports and and yet the USA of of keeping your game going at a crisp pace but there is even more so at the Olympic. Level and also know fighting is a lot of golf in the Olympics on other any of these thoughts as you watch in the Olympic game of the subtle differences that you'd like to see come into your game now. But actually I think our game is is is more compelling of the Olympic game obviously in the Olympics that the single elimination tournament. Best -- best. But if you think the Olympics were great. We think that they. Really are what you get and our playoffs the fact of the matter is I don't think. No touch icing makes sense I think it slows up the game it takes all the momentum had a big game it's kind of it's starting to have our best paced game come to a screeching halt. And and we appreciate it away that that protects players from getting injured on those types of play. With that with respect the fighting comparing to an Olympic thing elation. Elimination tournament with a 12130. Game regular season is comparing apples and oranges and we don't see much I think. It -- playoffs but also -- they said this is very much like playoff hockey and in fact. The gold medal game is what you would expect from us any games seven and -- a playoff series. So -- as -- with which you're also seeing when you talk about the rules differences over the last few years. The international game has moved to our style of play at -- game that's why they used the Olympic ice that's why they went. 282 referee system when they used to use one. It's why they use our officiating standard to get rid of interference. In the game and so. The international game the Olympic Games is really trying to mirror our game. Commissioner Tommy about the decision to add to shut down your league for for 2 weeks I -- a must be a tough call between you and the other. Ownership groups around the national hockey alienated this comes up right after the Super Bowl. And right before Major League Baseball begins playing spring training games so at this point in time you have -- not pay yeah single audience of the United States of America because certainly had the audience has attention it. Not as -- as a competitive as other times that calendar shortened to take this two week break what what some of that leading candidate the negatives that you when the owners talk about to take a two week break that you do. Well first -- -- your point about the time of the year and what else was playing is absolutely right. And it's at the point in the season. Where we've got all the momentum and we're heading to the stretch strive to determine who's gonna make the playoffs and into the playoffs and you've got to get that momentum backed. There's also a competitive issue we have some teams NHL teams it's simple lots of players to the Olympics like the Sharks. And you of other teams that might only send one or two players won't we come back and we started up the teams that that it rested most of their players. Maybe a little less banged up and a little less tired than teams NHL teams that have a lot of Olympic participation. You know we also talked about. The -- momentum of this season in the attention we give up. If I'm not mistaken the Sharks home game tonight. Is the first home game you know -- yeah and and so Sharks fans have been missing their regular fixed. Of Sharks games and so. It's all part of the evaluation. That we have to go through now listen we know that when you look at the Olympics at 30000 feet. Or when you've been in Vancouver for the last two weeks it all feels good it's also seductive. -- to be balanced against the hardships the competitive balance issues of loss of momentum the loss of attention not having the home game at a month. And it's balancing act of making this decision now when we come -- Olympics. When we're in North America and with the games are televised the North American time zones in it -- it a good time. And we have the type of result that viewership that we had in the gold medal game it all looks so easy but do not only could they get that resolved. The other factor that we have to deal with Islam we take off the two weeks we deal would take tougher more compressed regular season schedule. Which which is more wear and tear on the players -- on the game so all of these factors have to be balanced. So what's your feeling going four to 2014 and and know so she Russia and you have to make the call for awhile and the Olympic Games actually have to security at TV deal for the winter games right now they're just secured through 2012 and London but. About in my perspective would be how did you possibly pull the plug on this Dow after all the successes you just -- it. This past weekend but what are your thoughts on go to 42014. Well there's that you'd you'd hit it right on the head first of all throughout the decision we have to make probably for a couple of years for the reasons that you said. It if you go back in 2002. When we were in Salt Lake City we didn't know whether or not we were gonna go to to Reno in 2006 -- Vancouver. In 2010. We we we needed. Time to evaluate what was going on we need to do this decision making process with our players association. And our current collective bargaining agreement which covers these things doesn't go out to 2014 and so we've got to deal with that's. And we're gonna have to talk to the IOC and the international ice hockey federation. About what makes sense and evaluate again the pros and the cons that we discussed because. Yes after the great experience that they just said that we -- on Sunday if you just say how could you not to abide by the same token. You're not going to be in North America NS don't get Canada. Verses the US -- impact. In North America will be less and people here will say which is where franchises are what did you do why didn't we have a home game per month. Like Dan -- because if you remember. Back in Torino when -- end -- Sweden or back in Nagano in 98 win checked played Russia. People didn't think it was such a great thing that we went to deal -- the Olympics but a lot of people up more people question why we did it. As we said didn't -- Olympics for 24 team they don't even have their TV contracts yet. That's something that they may not have for a couple years we really have. Plenty of time to go through the decision making process and ultimately it's gonna be up that the NHL teams that decide what they wanna do if we go through the process so. But sitting down with the players association the IOC in the double edged up. As you said earlier NBC only has the rise to 2012 London summer games twenty forte has not yet the next negotiated but. How much say did do you have an and one your games are shown what network Tehran at. Where whether it's MSNBC or CNBC or NBC whether they're live and a lot of -- complaints I heard from the coverage as cars the other hockey games or was that. I'm not enough USA games were live on NBC I think just the final two were against Finland in the gold medal game Sunday against Canada. We we will live there were enlivened some places depending on which time zone here and but back his we have no control. And we as I was fond of saying when I was in Vancouver will like invited guests. And we don't really get any say over the menu and that's one of the things that we're gonna have to look at very closely moving forward in terms of what exactly. Do we need to ensure ourselves. Needs to be done in order for it to make sense for us to consider continuing our participation. Commissioner Bettman thank you so much for your time joining us from New York City tonight congratulations on a marvelous show the last two weeks. Thank you very much good to be with you.