Bettman battles MacLean on HNIC
For a birthday boy, Gary Bettman was not exactly in a cheery mood on Wednesday night.
The NHL commissioner, celebrating his 58th birthday, spoke with Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean during the second period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final and expressed his frustration with MacLean's questions about the financial state of several franchises in the NHL.
Bettman said reports of the league's financial demise have been "greatly exaggerated," pointing to "five years in a row for good revenues."
After MacLean referred to a Forbes magazine report that the Carolina Hurricanes are only worth about $85 million US, Bettman respectfully said that the report was off the mark.
Bettman then turned his comments to MacLean.
"What I'm amazed [at], now that we've run the gamut of this, we've had a great season, hockey has been terrific, these playoffs are great, we're seeing a wonderful game — and you just want to tick off franchise after franchise?
"What inside of you compels you to want to go in that direction? Because I don't believe the viewers are really that interested in the franchise status."
MacLean responded that it was an issue for the players.
"If that's the case, you do a disservice to the players and the great performances that are out there," Bettman said. "If the players are interested, the players can ask me."
When MacLean later asked why southern Ontario is not an option for another NHL team, Bettman said he would rather "fix a couple things that we couldn't fix a couple of years ago," in reference to the Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques.
"I hope our friends in Quebec City and Winnipeg aren't offended," Bettman said. "You'd like to put them further down on the list. I'd like to right something we wish didn't happen."
"I think the players might wonder why you don't go into southern Ontario, because it could be so profitable," MacLean said.
"Wait, who are you getting your information from as to what the players are thinking?" Bettman said. "You're making this up."
"With everything that we've been through, and with all of the union situation being uncertain as it is, I don't think it helps when you interject your view as to what the players want on the players."
After a brief discussion of the NHL's relationship with the Winter Olympics, the interview wrapped up cordially.
"I know that's confrontational, but it's just good to hear you on those subjects," MacLean said.
"This wasn't confrontational at all," Bettman replied.