By Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK – NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he always gets days confused this time of the year. It’s hard to blame him.
It’s the playoffs.
But Friday morning at the league’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Bettman reserved some time to address the most significant issues facing the league to the Associated Press Sports Editors.
On possible expansion:
“I can’t tell you that we’re going to expand. I believe that our 30 franchises will be where they are. By the way, I left out that our current franchises are stronger than they have ever been. We know that there’s interest in places like Las Vegas and Seattle. Is it possible that there will be expansion in that five-year window you mentioned? It’s certainly possible, but I wouldn’t guarantee it.”
On Seattle as a possible expansion spot:
“I think before Seattle get serious consideration, that as a hockey market it may well warrant, it’s going to need a viable plan and commitment to building an arena. To no surprise, there’s a number of people who would be interested in buying a franchise in the Seattle area. But there’s no question that until there’s a realistic expectation that there’s going to be a building there, it won’t warrant serious consideration.”
On the New York Islanders moving to Brooklyn:
“I’m not going to speculate. It’s unfortunate that it ever got to that point. There was a great chance to build an arena (in Nassau County). But politics being what it is in Nassau County, it was a wasted opportunity. The fact that the Islanders are moving to Barclays Center is great, because they have somewhere to go. I’ll say this as nicely as I can: Nassau Coliseum is well past its due date. That building is awful.”
On the launch of the National Women’s Hockey League:
“We encourage it. In the press release we issued, we stated that we are in full support of it. We encourage growth of women’s hockey. We think that before any group can really gain a solid footing in the sports market, it needs to start at the grassroots level and we think the start of the National Women’s Hockey League is something that will lead to that.”
On Jets fans referring to Correy Perry as Katy Perry:
“Are there some times that occasional fans do something that is not representative of practices that we want? Sure. We don’t encourage that. We discourage it. And we tell our building security to deal with it. I guess we live in a society in which anybody can interpret something any way they want, and that’s fair game. But we want women to feel perfectly comfortable at our games and be a big part of our game.”
More on the Katy Perry chant potentially being sexist:
“I see the point, but I think it’s overly literal. I think that people there are trying to get into a player’s thought process. Is it any different than when an opposing player is viewed as an enemy and is booed? I understand the point, but I’m not sure with everyone that goes to the arenas that you can stop these things. It’s nothing we encourage but I’m not sure you can stifle it. Yes, you can indicate it’s not right, like when national anthems have been booed. We have also heard about fights about homophobic chants, and I take this no less seriously, but I think there is always a line between what is parody in fun and chanting and what’s intended to belittle certain segments of society, and that’s obviously something we don’t encourage.”