Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 04/21/14 at 10:29 PM ET
chairman I mean commissioner is making his yearly attend-one-playoff-game-in-every-city rounds, and Gary Bettman is in Dallas today, so ESPN Dallas's Richard Durrett reports that Bettman was, as you might imagine, asked about the possibility of holding an outdoor game at the Dallas Cowboys' new digs, the AT&T Stadium...
"I certainly wouldn't rule it out," Bettman said prior to Monday's Game 3 between the Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center. "It's an unbelievable stadium. I think our focus will be on making sure that when we're ready to come that it will be sold out. All of our outdoor games get sold out, and that's a big stadium."
The Stars said earlier this season that they are exploring the possibility, but have continually stressed that it will be a few years because they want some momentum generated from the club's first playoff berth since 2008. They also want to be sure they work with the league to pick the right opponent and the right time to do it.
Bettman said the NHL hasn't studied it yet, but he wasn't concerned about having the building setup to handle it.
"We’ve been pretty creative with the outdoor games, so when we think it’s time that stadium will configure appropriately for us," Bettman said. "We’re all in agreement [the Stars and the league] that the attention on the playoffs and pursuit of the Cup, that’s a good thing. It hasn’t been the case in a few years, so that’s good. It’s a building process."
And the Dallas News's Mike Heika reports that Bettman addressed other topics, too:
Replay is being used in baseball now, how has it worked for hockey?
“We’ve been doing replay longer than anybody else. All of the other sports leagues have come to visit to see how we do it. So I think the view is that we did a model. When you do replay, the expectation that everybody has is that you will get it right all of the time. You can’t or you shouldn’t be doing it for things where there’s still uncertainty. We do it around the goal. Is it a good goal? We’re very specific. We continue to have discussions about whether or not it should or can be extended to other things. It’s been very difficult to get comfortable with extending it because we don’t want to get it extended to something where there’s still going to be some ambiguity. So for anybody doing replay, they want to make sure they’re getting it right. That’s why in football they don’t use it for judgment calls. They use it for black and white things. We try to use it for black and white things. Baseball, I think I read an article where they’re in their embryonic stage or it’s just beginning. It takes time to work the kinks out of it. Since we’ve been at it something like 20 years, what we do, we try to do well. We’ve had a lot of experience and are very focused.”
“One of the things that I think the other leagues are looking at carefully is the fact that we do it centrally and that’s to get the consistency. The same people are doing it in every building, every night. That’s a lot different than people who are, in effect, part-timers doing it in every building in North America because you might get some inconsistent results.”
What’s the early assessment of the new schedule and the new divisional alignment?
“Well, if you look at TV ratings and attendance, regular season and the beginning of the playoffs, it’s all good. Reaction has been fine. Go back, remember what we were doing. We had some teams that were too far west, whether it was Dallas in the Pacific, or Minnesota in the Northwest, or Columbus and Detroit who wanted to go east. So we were able to deal with that and very fan friendly, especially for younger fans, let’s say in Dallas so that they can see more road games on television at better times locally. Two, we wanted every team in every building at least once, and three, we wanted to emphasize rivalries, particularly geographic rivalries.
Are you studying changing the playoff format?
“I think we agreed with the players’ association, because we were seeking their agreement, that we would look at it after three years. I think the first year’s been terrific. All of the reaction we got, particlarly from fans — I think we played to over 95 percent of capacity in the regular season, TV ratings were up, TV ratings on NBC and on the Sports Net were up pretty good in the first round so far. It’s been a positive experience, and I haven’t heard too many complaints.
Bettman continues, discussing head shots, expansion and the Stars' ownership situation.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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