On Sunday, April 7, 2013, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman gave the following interview. I have taken the liberty of transcribing it and then commenting on his answers to the questions posed to him. Here’s the link if you wish to listen and follow the transcription:
Bettman Interview from King5.com by Chris Daniels, April 7, 2013 (3 minutes, 40 seconds)
Reporter (R) Question 1: Unintelligible
Bettman (B) Answer: “We’re not planning on changing the realignment and we’re not planning on moving Phoenix, as we stand here today.” (Italics and bold mine)
Please note that I have italicized and boldened Mr. Bettman’s last phrase. He could have ended his comment after he said we’re not planning on moving Phoenix but he threw in that last phrase, “as we stand here today.” That does not seem to omit future consideration of moving the team.
R Q 2: Is any decision on Phoenix imminent?
B A: “No, when it becomes imminent we’ll tell you. We apparently aren’t operating on the same time frame that a lot of your colleagues are.”
R Q 3: Well, what time frame are you operating on?
B A 3: “On one that works on getting the project completed in a successful light.”
R Q 4: Do you have multiple…Can you give us an update on Phoenix?
B A 4: “As Bill Daly said, quoting him who was quoting me, this is a work in progress and it remains such and Frank hates that when I use that over and over again. But we’re continuing to work on it and there are a lot of things that are in play.”
In Commissioner Bettman’s answers to Q 2, 3 and 4, I would bet you he said the same things in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
R Q 5: In terms of keeping the team in Glendale or…?
B A 5: “Well, we haven’t been exploring the alternatives.”
What is unsaid is just as relevant as what was said in this response and that is we haven’t been exploring alternatives right now.
R Q 6: You haven’t explored relocation?
B A 6: “We are exploring everything we can to work this out and there seems to be considerable interest. You know, if you go through the history of this, there have been lots of reasons this has taken lots of time. There seems to be now, calm at the moment, a lot more interest than we’ve ever seen.”
It is interesting that this question went unanswered and was meant to direct attention away from relocation. Apparently it was successful because the reporter’s follow-up question is related to the time it has taken.
R Q 7: Why do you think that is…going for a long time?
B A 7: “Because there are a lot of things that happened. Some were with our control, some were beyond our control. Whether or not it was third party intervention, whether or not it was the work stoppage, whether or not it was the deal that went bad for a variety of reasons, the fact of the matter is, there seems to be more interest at this particular point in time than we’ve seen throughout the process.”
R Q 8: Is the city any more cooperative?
B A 8: “Well, I’ve been in regular touch with the mayor and we agreed that when we get a framework lined up then we would come see the city. We don’t want the city to have to expend resources and time getting involved until there’s something concrete to present to them.”
The Commissioner’s response corroborates what has been widely suspected and that is the NHL will select a buyer and bring the deal to Glendale to take it or leave it. The NHL certainly wasn’t this solicitous of the time and resources the city used on a parade of previous suitors.
R Q 9: Could there be some kind of combination of previous suitors?
B A 9: “That would require a lot of speculation and information that might not be constructive to the process.”
R Q 10: I’m coming to you so that I don’t have to speculate…
B A 10: “And I would prefer that we not talk about it because what’s more important is that we get through this process and I think we’ll have a better indication from these meetings this week as to whether we’re getting closer to resolving it.”
The Commissioner is reluctant, as obviously anyone would be at this point, to reveal any of the suitors or their deal points.
R Q 11: Is insurance the main issue this week?
B A 11: “There are lots of issues. I know in your business it’s more interesting for the people that follow you to have specific things to focus on. This doesn’t get done until all of the essential elements get done and so it doesn’t take a focus on any one of the issues.”
R Q 13: Can you tell us when the meetings are and who is meeting?
B A 13: “I think the meetings are either Wednesday or Thursday. NHLPA, IOC and double IHI.
R Q 14: How close are you following the NBA Board of Governors and the potential of the Seattle arena going in?
B A 14: “Just from afar.”
Do we really think so?
R Q 15: Does it affect Phoenix?
B A 15: “Not really. Phoenix is Phoenix. They’re gonna, I assume the NBA Board of Governors will make whatever decision they think is in the best interest of the league and the franchise involved.”
I wouldn’t be commenting on Seattle as a relocation possibility for Phoenix either.
R A 16: Seattle in general. Do you have any thoughts on that as a potential hockey market?
B A 16: “The research I’ve seen tells me that it would be a very strong hockey market. I haven’t looked at it in detail but it’s all anecdotal and third hand and obviously, if there were a team in Seattle it might foster a pretty decent rivalry with a northern neighbor, namely Vancouver.”
Look for a team in Seattle in the future. Whether it turns out to be the Coyotes or another team, only the Commissioner knows and he’s not telling.
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