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One-on-One With Commissioner Bettman

Tuesday, 05.10.2011 / 7:57 AM CT / Features
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One-on-One With Commissioner Bettman
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman visited Nashville during the playoffs – watching Game 3 in person at Bridgestone Arena. NashvillePredators.com caught up with “The Commish” to talk about the state of the game, the state of the team and the excitement of the 2011 playoffs.

NP.com: When you look at the playoffs this season and the way things are going, how pleased are you to see several competitive, long series? When you look at the way things have been, what do you think of the quality of the actual hockey that is being played?
Bettman: Well, I think the hockey that’s being played and how competitive and exciting it is, is a reflection of the state of the game; it’s a reflection of what we saw during the regular season. You don’t know on any given night who’s going to win, and the margins between team performance are razor thin. That’s why we’re seeing exciting series, so many overtime games and, most importantly, entertaining hockey.

NashvillePredators.com: What are your thoughts on the Nashville market, the way it’s growing and where it is right now?
Commissioner Bettman: We have, since Day One, always believed that Nashville would be a great home for NHL hockey, and as we’ve seen over the last dozen or so years, the interest in the game has grown dramatically at all levels. The attendance continues to get stronger; there were 16 sellouts during the regular season. The fans are great. The atmosphere is terrific. The building is loud, but also, the Predators have been involved in grassroots programs; the increase in the number of high school hockey teams and the grassroots programs for kids throughout the year. Hockey is just growing everywhere.

NP.com: When you look at Nashville’s ownership situation, how much has that strengthened this team’s abilities to make an impact?
Bettman: I think it’s clear that the ownership is in strong, local hands with people who are committed to making sure this franchise not only survives, which I don’t think there is any doubt of, but is successful. You’re seeing that across both the performance on the ice and the business performance of the club reflected in all the new sponsors and the attendance at the games.

NP.com: This season, the Predators made a couple of changes in the front office – mainly with Jeff Cogen and Sean Henry – can you talk about what they bring to the league?
Bettman: They’ve been around this league for a number of years. They know the business of hockey, and I think they’ve been responsible for some of the terrific success this franchise has seen in the community.

NP.com: And at the same time, President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile has been with the franchise since Day One. What does he mean to the Preds organization and to your relationship with the organization?
Bettman: David Poile has an outstanding track record of success and consistency. I think the Predators are one of only four teams in the last six years to win 40 or more games in each of those years. He’s been the only general manager this team has ever had. He’s had a coach who’s the only coach, Barry Trotz, this team has ever had. Something like 15 of your 23 players are players that have been drafted and developed through the organization. David is the consummate professional, and he has brought a level of professionalism and stability to this franchise that has yielded the success and results that were seen.

NP.com: The league just announced a new television deal to remain on NBC and VERSUS in the United States. What does that mean for our fans and their viewership?
Bettman: I think, perhaps, more so than ever in the history of the NHL in the United States, we now have the most significant media arrangement that we’ve ever had – not just financially, but in terms of all of the platforms that the NBC sports group, which is the result of the merger of NBC, Universal and Comcast, can bring. There are 20 different networks that they have, which will be promoting NHL hockey in addition to Versus, which will be renamed. There are 43 digital platforms, and all of these assets and resources are committed for a decade going forward to promoting the game and covering NHL hockey.

NP.com: How have NBC and Versus helped grow the game?
Bettman: Well, in terms of viewership and the attention that we get and the promotion that we get, I think it’s as good as its ever been. The numbers that we’re seeing this past season, whether or not it’s for special events like the Winter Classic or regular season and playoff games, they’re at levels that exceed what we used to do back before we were on Versus and NBC, when we were on ESPN. The fact that we were able to command such interest in the marketplace is a reflection of, one, the game on the ice but, two, the treatment that we’ve gotten as a broadcast and media property for the last six years.

NP.com: Bridgestone, another league partner, one based here in middle Tennessee, has stepped into a more prominent relationship with the league both at the local and national level. What type of a partner are they for they the league and how has that relationship grown?
Bettman: I’m loving that Bridgestone is a League sponsor, one of our biggest, and the naming partner of this arena because they’ve shown tremendous commitment to sports, in general, but, in particular, hockey and as well to Nashville, where it’s based in North America. It’s a great company run by terrific people – very well managed, a very prominent brand – and I think it’s great that we get to associate our brand of NHL Hockey to Bridgestone’s brand. Perhaps as important as anything else, the fact that they’ve wanted to put their name on this area is terrific to show what great citizens they are of Nashville.





1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70


F. Forsberg 82 33 31 1 64
R. Josi 81 14 47 -3 61
J. Neal 82 31 27 27 58
S. Weber 78 20 31 -7 51
M. Ribeiro 81 7 43 11 50
C. Smith 82 21 16 4 37
M. Ekholm 82 8 27 14 35
R. Johansen 42 8 26 10 34
R. Ellis 79 10 22 13 32
C. Jarnkrok 81 16 14 1 30
P. Rinne 34 21 10 .908 2.48
C. Hutton 7 5 4 .918 2.33