Bettman: Games not being called differently

May, 3, 2010

CHICAGO -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman held a media availability before Game 2 of the Canucks-Blackhawks series Monday night, although there was no formal announcement on his part. It was a just a chance for local media to have a crack at him, just like it was two weeks ago in Los Angeles.

Three items that caught our attention:

1. Phoenix: Bettman updated the Phoenix Coyotes situation, as Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has yet to reach a deal with the league or the city of Glendale.

"It'll be great for this league and for that franchise if Jerry is able, with his partners, to consummate that transaction," Bettman told a packed news conference at United Center. "The process continues. There's much that has to be done with the city of Glendale, both by the league and a prospective owner, and it's something we're continuing to work on. But I think we're closer to the end of the process than we've ever been, but we're not there yet. My hope is it all works out and the Coyotes stay there."

Time is of the essence. The month of May is a critical juncture in figuring this out in Phoenix. Relocation remains a possibility if local ownership cannot be solidified. Bettman was asked Monday night if he was ready to set a deadline for Reinsdorf and the city of Glendale.

"At some point, I will be; not tonight. ... These things take time, but time is not unlimited," said Bettman. "But I'm not yet ready to set a deadline."

2. The salary cap: I asked the commissioner for a ballpark figure on next year's salary cap, which is currently at $56.8 million.

"I think we're probably going to be flat or maybe up a tad," said Bettman. "Our revenues, and again it is premature, we're either going to be flat or up or down a little bit, and then we've got to factor in the Canadian dollar."

The strong Canadian dollar, basically at par with the U.S. dollar for most of this season, will help keep revenues from falling this year because the six Canadian NHL teams account for about 35 percent of total league revenues.

3. The officials: Bettman was also asked about the officiating in the playoffs -- a sensitive topic judging from message boards -- and whether the games are being called differently in the postseason.

"It's not the case," Bettman said. "They haven't been given a different set of instructions. The game is played a little differently, and the officials have to react to that. And there are adjustments that go on in the course of a series that you don't see over the course of the regular season, two teams will play and play different teams the next night.

"The games now are probably a little more intense. ... But no, they're told to call it just the way they did [in the regular season]. I also think the scrutiny tends to be even a little greater and the passion involved in every call is probably greater because every call is important. Our goal is to have the officials get it right and overwhelmingly they do. Are they perfect? This is a game of mistakes. Coaches make mistakes, players make mistakes and, occasionally, even an official might."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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