Bettman: NHL teams worth more than Clippers

Gary Bettman joined PTS prior to his statement to the press preceding the Stanley Cup Final, talking about the growth of hockey. He was careful with his wording, cautioning those that are optimistic there will be expansion that it is not likely.

LOS ANGELES — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says if the Los Angeles Clippers sell for US$2 billion, he has franchises worth more.

The estranged wife of embattled Clippers owner Donald Sterling has said she has agreed to sell the NBA franchise to former Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer for that amount.

Bettman said sports franchises are becoming increasingly valuable because of their prominence as media content.

Speaking before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, the NHL commissioner said the Clippers sale may be a unique case due to the Los Angeles market, the number of people in the L.A. area who wanted to buy the team and Ballmer himself.

“It went for $2 billion, whether that means all franchises, either in the NBA or in any sport are proportionally impacted, I’m not so sure to the dollar,” said Bettman. “But if the Clippers are worth $2 billion, we have plenty of franchises that are worth at least that, if not more.”

On other matters, Bettman said the speed and timing of the game presented obstacles to expanding instant replay.

The league would move slowly on the issue “and if we did do more things, you’ll see incremental — you’ll see a handful of things that are very discreet. And we’ll have to test it.

“But as you see in other sports it’s not so easy to implement it. And I’m very comfortable with what we have. And I’ve got to be as least as comfortable with anything new we try to undertake.”

Bettman gave a thumbs-up to the league’s divisional realignment and revamped playoff format, saying “by almost any measure this may have been the successful season on and off the ice in league history.”

He said concussions were down this season “moderate, low double-digits” as a percentage, with man-games lost down by about half.

He said the concussion protocols were working and the league and players’ association were serious about them.

“They’re being enforced and we are doing what is necessary to enforce the concussion protocols. And if we think there’s been a violation, we follow up. If in an appropriate case there needs to be discipline imposed, we will do it.”

He declined to provide specifics, however.

But he did say that players have to be open about symptoms so they can be addressed.

“Obviously it’s difficult for us to get into a player’s head, no pun intended, with this concussion discussion.”