Gary Bettman: NHL has "been extremely proactive"

bettman.jpgDavid
Haugh of the Chicago Tribune
was able to score a fairly lengthy
interview with NHL commissioner, asking him a number of questions
pertaining to the recent rule changes, suspensions and the future of the
NHL. Here are some highlights of what he had to say.

The
rash of nasty incidents since the Olympics had to factor into the NHL’s
decision Thursday to toughen its policy on review and discipline of
“lateral, back-pressure or blind-side” hits, especially to the head,
right?

Was it the post Olympics activity that caused this? No.
We’ve been extremely proactive on the issue of injuries in general and
concussions in particular going back to 1997. We were the first pro
sports league to do baseline testing, used as a diagnostic tool for
return-to-play decisions. Over the past year, we’ve had a group of
medical professionals looking at the videotape of 199 recent
concussions. We have constantly taken steps to do anything possible to
protect our players.

I’d like to just say here that
the NHL is far from proactive on these issues, especially when it comes
to punitive measures for illegal hits. This past week’s kneejerk
reaction and attempt to pass a new rule that was in direct response to a
rash of what should be illegal hits is the very definition of reactive.
If the NHL is so intent on being ‘proactive’ then the league should
have addressed all hits to the head two years ago.

More after the
jump.

Did the fact that Ovechkin is a superstar
affect the length of his
suspension?

No. Your history as a player and the number of times you’ve been
involved in an incident may, but no. The Ovechkin play, he was suspended
for being careless and reckless, not for doing anything malicious. The
fact is, when you look at lots of hockey plays, that was a hockey play. I
don’t think he was going out of his way to try and hurt Brian.

I
don’t think I’ve ever actually agreed with Bettman on something,
completely. The suspension was completely warranted based on Ovechkin’s
history and the play in question. It wasn’t an overtly dirty hit, just a
reckless one.

The issue is that while his star
status might not have come into play here, there’s no doubt that the NHL
has gained a reputation for coddling star players when it comes to
punishment. Maybe a form of a standardized punishment system would work,
which would fall under that ‘proactive’ approach Bettman is so certain
the NHL is using.

Bettman would also go on to talk about how great the Coyotes have
done this season, and the possibilities of Jerry Reinsdorf as a
potential owner. He also says the Chicago national anthem tradition is
far from unpatriotic, and says the NHL is far from making a decision on
the league’s involvement in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

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    BREAKING: Flames fire head coach Bob Hartley

    Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley gives instructions during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 5, 2016. The Flames won 4-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
    Associated Press
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    The Calgary Flames have decided to move on from head coach Bob Hartley. The team made the announcement via their Twitter account on Tuesday morning. Associate coach Jacques Cloutier has also been informed that he won’t be back next season.

    Hartley and the Flames surprised many last year when they won 45 games and made the postseason. Hartley was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s top coach.

    What a difference a year makes. Unfortunately for the Flames, they won just 35 games in 2015-16 and finished 26th in the overall standings.

    More details to come.

    Kris Letang will have a hearing for hit on Marcus Johansson

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    Many expected it to happen and now it has. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety confirmed that Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will have a hearing for his hit on Caps forward Marcus Johansson in Game 3.

    After Brooks Orpik was suspended three games for this hit on Olli Maatta in Game 2, many people are expecting a similar outcome for Letang. It’s important to note that there are certain similarities between the two hits, but there are also some key differences.

    Both victims definitely took shots to the head, there’s no doubt about that, but to say that the hits are identical isn’t accurate. First, although Letang’s hit appears to be late (0.6 seconds after the puck is gone is considered late), it isn’t as late as Orpik’s hit on Maatta. Another key factor to consider is that unlike Maatta, Johansson returned to the game.

    Letang was given a two-minute penalty for interference on the play.

    TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie breaks it down perfectly:

    A decision is expected to be made later on this evening.

    Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

    Stanley Cup
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    The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with three games on Tuesday night. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    Tampa Bay at NY Islanders (7:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    San Jose at Nashville (9:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on the USA Network. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Dallas at St. Louis (9:30 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Here’s some reading material to get you ready for tonight’s action:

    Lightning strikes: Bolts even series with Islanders

    The Sharks are the only team to grab a 2-0 series lead in the second round

    Seguin resumes skating in Dallas, Ruff notes ‘they have flights to St. Louis every day’

    PHT Morning Skate: Adam Henrique wants to make NHL 17 great again

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Martin Jones is a calming presence in the Sharks’ net. (Sports Illustrated)

    –The Rangers should go after Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. (The Hockey News)

    –Some people have pretty wild hockey tattoos. (BarDown)

    –Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

    –A great piece on how Bruce Boudreau impacted the Ducks and Capitals. (Sportsnet)

    –It should be an interesting off-season for the Anaheim Ducks. (Daily Breeze)

    Adam Henrique is a funny guy. He took to Twitter to try and get himself on the cover of NHL 17: