Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 02/13/11 at 09:28 AM ET
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to the Calgary Herald’s George Johnson ahead of next weekend’s Heritage Classic between the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens, and he got a little…testy…during what is as much a comedy piece as a Q and A:
HERALD: In some quarters, the Heritage Classic is being portrayed as nothing more or less than an appeasement to cranky Canadians — as the underprivileged child hidden underneath the stairs in comparison to the New Year’s Day Winter Classic.
BETTMAN: That’s absurd. It’s baseless. It’s someone looking for something on a slow news day, looking for something to write or say, to be critical for no reason. The first outdoor game was the Heritage Classic in Edmonton, and the fact that we managed to pull off a very clever promotional idea and move it into the United States in an available time slot on New Year’s Day has nothing to do with the importance of playing an outdoor game in Canada.
Bettman does make one interesting comment:
HERALD: After hearing conflicting reports: Do these games actually make money or are they primarily, as you mentioned, to showcase the product, used as “prestige” vehicles?
BETTMAN: They make some money, depending on how big the stadium is you’re playing in. Your ability to make money is obviously enhanced by playing in, say, a stadium with 70,000 seats. What people tend to forget is that these are very expensive events to put on, very complicated to put on. And, frankly, if we didn’t think it was important, beyond the financial aspect . . . because they are a logistical nightmare and extraordinarily expensive and difficult. So anyone that thinks we’re doing this, to use your words “as a matter of appeasement” is wrong, because it’s hard to do. Why do it just for that purpose?.
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