Gary Bettman: NHL has "been extremely proactive"

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.

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,

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

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

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.

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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    Don’t glare: Heritage Classic start time delayed

    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 22: Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers skates during practice in preparation for the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic alumni hockey game on October 22, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Oilers play the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 23, 2016. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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    Update: Puck drop is now scheduled for 4:53 p.m. ET.


    It’s not a familiar situation for the NHL, but it has happened before: a weather delay for a hockey game.

    The Winnipeg Jets confirmed that the start time for their Heritage Classic game against the Edmonton Oilers has been delayed. The glare of the sun appears to be too much.

    At the moment, it is not yet known how severe the delay will be. Puck drop was originally scheduled for just after 3 p.m. ET.

    That’s a bummer, but at least it inspired a joke that would probably make Ilya Bryzgalov smile:

    Warm-ups were moved to 4 p.m. ET. PHT will keep you posted if there are any other changes.

    Great news: Jacques Demers back at home after hospital stay

    MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 22:   Former Montreal Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy embraces his former head coach Jacques Demers during his retirement ceremony before the game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on November 22, 2008 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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    OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers is back at home after going to a hospital Saturday.

    Demers’ Senate office would only confirm that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, was at home Sunday, but didn’t provide any details about the reason he went to the hospital.

    Demers had suffered a stroke in April, but he was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.

    Demers led the Canadiens to their most recent Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached the Quebec Nordiques, the Detroit Red Wings and the St. Louis Blues.

    Demers was appointed to the Senate in 2009 by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but later left the Conservative caucus in December to sit as an Independent.

    At the time, he said he was uncomfortable with some of the fallout from the Senate expenses scandal and didn’t like to have to vote the Conservative party line all the time.

    Goalie nods: Talbot vs. Hellebuyck vs. the elements

    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 22: Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers skates during practice in preparation for the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic alumni hockey game on October 22, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Oilers play the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 23, 2016. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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    So, let’s assume that the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets will eventually play in the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field on Sunday.

    Every indication is that Cam Talbot and Connor Hellebuyck shall get the nods for their respective teams. Most assume, with the firepower on hand, that this could be a high-scoring game.

    Hellebuyck isn’t flustered about all the goals the Jets have allowed so far, as he told

    “It’s not something you’re really worried about,” Hellebuyck said. “It’s early in the year, it happens to a lot of teams. If you look at the trends in the past 10 years, there’s always a lot of goals being scored at the beginning of the year.”

    They’re not just facing dangerous offenses. They’re also dealing with the conditions, as the game was already delayed by the glare of the sun.

    Goalies are already accustomed to having their views compromised by screening forwards. Will Hellebuyck and Talbot squint through the Heritage Classic?

    Elsewhere …

    Wild at Islanders – Darcy Kuemper vs. Thomas Greiss

    Coyotes at Rangers – Louis Domingue vs. (probably) Henrik Lundqvist

    Canucks at DucksRyan Miller vs. (likely) John Gibson

    Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more

    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 22: Morris Lukowich #12 of the Winnipeg Jets alumni moves the puck in front Steve Staios #24 of the Edmonton Oilers alumni during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic alumni hockey game on October 22, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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    The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or at 3 p.m. ET.

    With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.

    • Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
    • The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game.’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
    • No doubt about it, the futures of both franchises will be on display, from Connor McDavid to Patrik Laine.
    • The league’s PR department tweeted out some silly facts: 425 lbs. of cheese curds “will top poutine” during the event and 2.5 kilometers (about 1.55 miles) of hot dogs and “smokies” will be consumed.

    (Imagines one enormous cheese dog.)

    Now that you have important food facts in mind, here are a few fun photos as promised.

    Should be a great time.

    Oh, and in case you missed it, here is a recap of Saturday’s wonderful alumni game: