Gary Bettman

Despite struggles, Gary Bettman will be around for a long time

In the wake of a turbulent week (to say the least) for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, some hockey fans might be wondering if his days are numbered. The truth is that those numbers might be in the thousands.

The Globe & Mail’s David Shoalts reports that the Board of Governors’ executive committee approved a five-year contract extension for Bettman in November.

Some might rush to judgment that this has been the worst week of his reign, but it’s hard to say. Whether the blame deserves to go to him or not, Bettman resided over such rocky moments as the year-long lockout, the Todd Bertuzzi incident and the Dead Puck Era. Sure, the non-suspension on Zdeno Chara, the Air Canada oddness and the latest chapter in the Phoenix Coyotes debacle make for an awful seven days, but he’s been through plenty of storms in his years at this post.

The one group of people Bettman never lost is the most important one: the owners (or at least the owners who determine whether he gets paid big bucks as the puck commish). Shoalts reports that there might be some thought that the deal might show signs of “cronyism,” especially in the wake of the Boston Bruins’ good luck in terms of recent suspension rulings.

What will surely fire up the conspiracy theorists, who have been venting loudly on all forms of media following Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens, is the identity of the driving force behind Bettman’s new contract. It is Jeremy Jacobs, the NHL’s chairman of the board of governors who just happens to own the Boston Bruins, the team that employs Chara. However, as chairman, one of Jacobs’s duties is to keep the commissioner and the other key executives of the NHL under contract.

Bettman confirmed via e-mail he received an extension. “Old news. I believe my contract has been extended four times, each time with the approval of the board of governors,” he said.

One governor said he believes Bettman also reached an understanding with the executive committee that deputy commissioner Bill Daly and chief operating officer John Collins will also be retained beyond this season. Daly, who earned $1.9-million last season, would only say he does not have a contract.

Jacobs and Bettman are thought to have a close relationship and at least one owner thinks the contract extension smacks of cronyism but some of his fellow governors differ. One said Jacobs made the move with an eye toward the end of the collective agreement in September, 2012.

Bettman’s recent press conferences might give a vague sense of fatigue, but it sounds like he won’t be going anywhere soon.

(H/T to George Malik.)

Stars, Rangers do their Caps – Pens impression in wild win for Dallas

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If you watched only Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers game and yesterday’s manic Washington Capitals contest, you might believe that you were transported to the days of the 1988 Smythe Division.

Just ask Justin Williams.

That Penguins – Capitals game ended with an 8-7 overtime victory for Pittsburgh, while tonight’s 7-6 win for the Stars against the Rangers wasn’t far behind.

All the goals

Henrik Lundqvist gave up seven goals, eventually giving way to Magnus Hellberg in the third period. It’s been a rough go of things lately for the future Hall of Famer, with tonight marking the low point.

The Stars opened up leads of 3-1 in the first period and 7-3 through the first two frames, but as you can guess from the score, the Rangers stormed back with three goals in a surprisingly tight third period.

Kari Lehtonen saved the day for the Stars, stopping 12 of 12 after taking over about halfway through the third for Antti Niemi.

Much like with the Penguins – Capitals clash, it was about more than just seeing a lot of goals.

More than just a high-scoring game

Cody Eakin and Chris Kreider were in the thick of things. Eakin scored his first goal of 2016-17, a 7-3 tally that absurdly ended up being the game-winner. Kreider began the Rangers’ rally with his 18th goal of the season, hit Eakin with his own helmet during a fight and created his typical brand of chaos.

As much as this might sting the Rangers, and as concerned as they may be about Lundqvist’s play, at least it looks like Ryan McDonagh avoided injury despite this scary fall:

OK, so these four teams dropped the gauntlet for wild games this week. Who’s going to carry the torch on Wednesday?

Report: Islanders granted permission to interview Gerard Gallant

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 29:  Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers speaks during Media Day for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena on January 29, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Gerard Gallant might not go long between head coaching gigs.

The New York Islanders have received permission to speak with Gallant, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Gallant was an assistant coach with the Islanders from 2007 to 2009, so there’s some familiarity there with GM Garth Snow (it was early on in his reign). Gallant was unceremoniously fired by the Florida Panthers in late November, with plenty of rumors circulating that he didn’t jive well with the franchise’s analytics-driven mindset. Gallant denied those claims, for whatever that’s worth.

(If such rumblings are true, perhaps Gallant would agree with the questionable logic of giving limited, but heavy-hitting forward Cal Clutterbuck a contract extension. That would be an interesting question to ask him during an interview, eh?)

Doug Weight is currently considered the Islanders interim head coach after the firing of Jack Capuano.

About the only bummer for everyone outside of Weight is that the Islanders already played their three games against the Panthers this season, so we’d have to wait until 2017-18 for whatever drama would come of that.

Robin Lehner’s furious anger seemingly directed at Sabres after being pulled

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Update: There’s now full video to get a better sense of Robin Lehner‘s behavior.

The Maple Leafs ended up beating the Sabres 4-3 after Buffalo made the game awfully interesting.

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Late last season, Ben Scrivens expressed relief in avoiding a fight with Robin Lehner, the Buffalo Sabres goalie he called “a bit of a psycho.” It sure seemed like the Sabres were the target of his frightening anger on Tuesday.

Lehner really didn’t seem too happy after being pulled from the game, whether that anger was directed at Dan Bylsma, his Sabres teammates or … everyone?

Watch him rage out after getting the hook following Toronto’s three-goal outburst in about nine minutes:

/Cowers in fear.

Onlookers seem to believe that the tension was real.

Raise your hand if you wouldn’t want to be around Lehner right now. Here’s the impressive Auston Matthews 3-2 goal that ended his night early:

Jared Spurgeon shows he has hands like a surgeon (Video)

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Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon has a pretty good knack for scoring goals, especially considering the fact that he doesn’t always take a ton of shots.

Maybe Bruce Boudreau should consider asking him to fire away a little more often.

You won’t see many prettier examples of hand-eye coordination than Spurgeon’s power-play goal from Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, which gave the Wild a 1-0 lead. Watch it in the video above.

It’s almost impressive enough to justify rhyming his last name with surgeon. You know, theoretically.