Monday, January 2, 2012

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Addresses the Media After Classic Game


NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was very upbeat as he addressed the media after the New York Rangers defeated the hometown Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizen's Bank Park on Monday.

Almost all of the questions revolved about where next year's Winter Classic will be held as most of the rumors in the media had focused on a location near Detroit. Make the jump for Bettman's remarks as presented by NHL Media Services....



COMMISSIONER BETTMAN:  First of all, Happy New Year, everyone.  Thank you for being here.  I guess you could say a rivalry outdoors is as good as one  indoors.  We had a terrific day.  It's not every day that an event can actually  equal  or  exceed  the hype and the buzz that goes with it, but I think  we  had  --  without regard to who you root for -- a really terrific day.

And  the crowd was terrific.  The fans here in Philadelphia, the City of  Philadelphia  were  great.   Obviously, there were a number of fans who traveled from a great distance to come here, as well, and that was great to see.   I  want  to  do  a fair amount of thank you-ing, starting with David Montgomery  of  the  Phillies and Citizens Bank Park staffs. They were just terrific.  Obviously the Rangers and Flyers for being as cooperative and as engaged as they were in the event.

From  an  NHL  standpoint, Don Renzulli, who runs special events; Dan Craig,  who  is  the  ice  guru, they did a spectacular job. And this event continues  to  grow and get stronger, as evidenced by the ancillary events, such  as  the  Alumni  Game  two  days  ago.  So we thank everybody who was involved, and we felt we had a really good day.

To  answer  the  first question: I don't know where we are going next year.

Q.  Your thoughts on Philadelphia and how they hosted.
COMMISSIONER  BETTMAN:   It was spectacular.  We could not have asked for  any  more  from  the  event.  And  I think the Alumni Game was a great appetizer  to  the  main  event  today  --  having 45,000 people in here on Saturday  -- and just the entire reception in the city, the buzz throughout the city, and the crowd today was great.

This  was  just  a  terrific  event  for  us,  and we are grateful to everybody  who  was  involved,  particularly  and  including  the  City  of Philadelphia.

Q.   I  know  you said you don't know where you're going next, but is there --
COMMISSIONER BETTMAN:  A short list?

Q.  Do you feel the game needs to get out of the East?
COMMISSIONER  BETTMAN:   My  guess is it will be played in a place we have  not  been  before. So, therefore, in the U.S., you’ve eliminated five locations.   You  can  play  with  the  other  25,  play with geography and understand  that  temperature is a factor (as evidenced by the fact that we moved  two hours today, which I think worked out pretty well) -- and by the way,  in  that  context,  thank you to CBS, RDS and NBC for working so well with  us,  for  covering  the  event  so  well,  and  for demonstrating the flexibility we needed to get this right.

Between  last  year and this year, we have learned a lot about how to move  the  event, how to make the calls and how to deal with meteorological reports  and respond and I think the two-hour delay made for a better game. (So,  regarding  getting  out of the East and predicting next year’s site,) The  answer  is  you can eliminate some of the warmer climates.  We are not probably going to go back to where we have been.

So that's all you get from me today.

Q.   Can  a  team  petition  the league to play a regular-season game without it being a Winter Classic?

COMMISSIONER  BETTMAN:  It's possible for them to petition, but under the  circumstances,  we are tightly controlling the number of outdoor games we have.

There has been considerable debate, both outside my office and within the  League  and  from  the clubs.  There are a number of clubs who say, ‘I want this, and even if I've hosted it, I don't want to wait 10 years to get it  back.   So let's do more and more and more.’  Other people say this has become  a  special  event,  because  it's  special,  it's unique and that's something  that,  over time, we'll probably continue to wrestle with. But I don't think we are going to change the format in the short term.

Q.   You  mentioned  the  3 o'clock start time, is that something you might look towards as a more permanent time for future years?

COMMISSIONER  BETTMAN:   It depends.  Good question.  It depends on a whole  host  of  factors  --  not the least of which are the temperature or cloud cover. Actually, we had snow flurries – which was nice. If it was cloudy and overcast, we might not have had to move it.  Off of  last year's experience, we had a better sense – and we learn each year, a  new  way  to  focus  on what we have to deal with.  Because part of what makes  this  game so special is, it is the ultimate reality show -- because not  only  is  it  a  sporting  event, where we are going to get an outcome that's unscripted; we have to deal with the elements.

Q.   You've  played  some  of  the  older  ballparks; talk about this ballpark  as a venue and the fact that you have an up-to-date venue to play in.

COMMISSIONER  BETTMAN:  This is a spectacular venue, and it's kind of modeled on the old-style baseball parks.  So it has that kind of charm, but it had all of the modern amenities, as you all know, from the press box and the facilities.

This  was  a terrific place, we had 46,000 people in here and it felt intimate,  even  though  it's two and a half times what we normally play in front of. So  this  worked out extraordinarily well for us and it looked really
nice dressed up as a hockey venue.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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