The Stanley Cup Playoffs are almost upon us, and with that comes a few inevitable questions about its format and whether the NHL might look to alter it in the coming years.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the topic during an interview on Hockey Central Saturday:
“We’re not looking to make any changes,” he said. “We’re certainly not looking to add any additional teams. I mean, think about the last two weeks and all of the incredibly meaningful, exciting, competitive, entertaining games that we’ve had. Think about the game tonight between Colorado and St. Louis, which is going to determine who makes the playoffs.
“Every game matters during our regular season, based on the format and structure we have, and there’s no reason to be contemplating any changes at all,” Bettman explained.
The commissioner also discussed a few other topics affecting the NHL right now as we wrap up the regular season and look ahead to the playoffs. Here are some excerpts:
On coach’s challenges and goaltender interference:
“The standard that’s being called is the standard as it’s always been, and this business that nobody knows what goaltender interference is is kind of silly. Obviously if you make the challenge and you lose, you’re going to want to blame somebody, but the fact is, we didn’t want them to over-search. The point of the coach’s challenge on goaltender interference is, ‘did the guys make a mistake? Were they wrong? Could they make a better call? Was there something that they didn’t see?’ And I think since the general managers meeting a couple weeks ago in Florida, it’s been pretty good. I know we had the case in Nashville, the fans in Nashville didn’t particularly like the call, but if you go back and look at it, everybody who was involved in reviewing it on video [thought] that was goaltender interference.”
On the arena status in NHL cities like Calgary and Arizona:
“The two situations are completely different.
“Nothing has changed in Calgary. The Flames have, as they’ve repeatedly said, given up pursuit of a new arena. There’s no basis upon which they think they can get one that makes any sense whatsoever, and they’re going to hang on as long as they can in a situation that from a financial and competitive standpoint, has deteriorated and will continue to deteriorate. But they’re going to do the best they can under the circumstances.
“Arizona is still pursuing a variety of options in pursuit of getting a new building because ownership there would very much like to keep the franchise there—that’s been the goal, that’s been the intention, and there’s no reason to think, at this point, that they aren’t going to be in a position to reach their goal.”
On the Sedin twins, who play their final NHL game Saturday night, and what they mean to Vancouver:
“They have been the consummate professionals, hockey players, they’ve done it all both on and off the ice. The fans in Vancouver were fortunate to have them for so long, what a gift it was to the game and to the city of Vancouver.
“And I still remember being amazed at Brian Burke’s ability to pull off the requisite trades so that he could actually draft both of them. It’s an incredible story. And the storybook finish, the game the other night—the last home game in Vancouver and how they won the game in overtime—you couldn’t have scripted it. If somebody had told you that was a screenplay, you’d say, ‘that’s ridiculous, it couldn’t have happened.’”