September 27, 2013 9:04 am

Bettman on outdoor game novelty, “east coast bias,” relocation

Gary Bettman, on whether there is a “threat of the novelty getting a little stale” with multiple outdoor games:
No, because first of all, it’s six games out of twelve hundred and thirty regular season games. Two, when you go to one of these games, if you haven’t been to one and you see what’s here, the reaction of the fans, the intensity, the emotion, the excitement is off the charts, and what we’re hearing from our fans and from our clubs and from the markets in which we play is they can’t get enough of these. And teams that have had a game don’t want to wait 10 or 15 years to get another one, and teams that haven’t been in one want to be in one. So, no, the number of games is dictated more by what we think we can handle logistically because the level of interest is off the charts.

Bettman, on the perception in hockey that the gravitation of focus lies on the east coast – an “east coast bias” – and whether the outdoor game at Dodger Stadium serves an effort to counter that perception:
I think people in the west think there’s an ‘east coast bias.’ I’m not sure that there is an east coast bias, although there are more teams in the east than there are in the west, and for the most part, there’s more history – teams of longer duration – in the east. But this game is in response to the tremendous interest there is in hockey in Southern California, and the tremendous following, and the great fans we have for the Ducks and the Kings.

Bettman, on previously being “doubtful” towards an outdoor game in Southern California, and what changed his mind:
Dan Craig telling me that he can make the ice work. That simple. And the more we had our own equipment, the more he did outdoors, the more he came to be even more expert in making ice particularly outdoors, he was not only comfortable but confident that he could make it work, and that to us was always the biggest factor. [Reporter: Will we see you here wearing shorts and flip flops?] Well, you’ll probably see me dressed the way you always see me. Even if you’re disappointed, it will be great to be here, and it’s going to be very exciting. It is. And agin, the most important thing about this game is it’s going to be fun for our fans, and this is for our fans. [Reporter: You’re not going to have the wintry charm and the rosey cheeks and all that.] That’s what I said in my remarks. This is going to be a different experience, but it’s going to be very Southern California, and so that’s going to make its own tradition, its own fun, and its own enjoyment for the people that live here.

Bettman, on the talk of teams playing in Seattle and Quebec City:
There’s always a lot of talk. [Reporter: Are they viable?] It’s great to know that there’s lots of interest in having teams in places where there aren’t. But as we stand here today, it’s nothing we’re pursuing right now in any sort of organized way. We listened to the expressions of interest, and they’re gratifying. But that’s all it is right now. [Reporter: Do the Leafs have any type of veto power if a team wanted to go into Markham?] Majority vote.

Andrew D. Bernstein / National Hockey League

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