NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, in Buffalo as part of the Sabres' luncheon series, met with the media prior to tonight's game between the Sabres and Ottawa Senators.
The opening topic, as expected, was the new rule allowing for supplemental discipline in the case of head shots. Bettman sees it as an evolution of the rules in a game that's become faster and more physical. He believes the language targets the types of hits that cause the most injuries.
"This rule will reduce the instances of concussions, which is the most important thing," he said in HSBC Arena.
The rule doesn't call for in-game penalties, Bettman said, because he was not sure the league could get its officials comfortable in consistently distinguishing between minors and majors. He doesn't want the stretch run or playoff games to be wrongly influenced by inconsistent calls.
Other topics included:
*The Olympics. He said the NHL saw a bump in ratings and added "business is pretty good," but said the experience will have more of a long-term effect through kids becoming interested in the sport.
"It's not like throwing a light switch," he said.
*The salary cap, which will remain flat or change 1 percent or 2 percent in either direction for next season.
*The Phoenix Coyotes and New York Islanders. The league is temporarily running the Coyotes until it finds a suitable local buyer, though with the on-ice success of the team he joked "maybe we should be" in the business of running a squad. The Islanders are arguing with Long Island politicians about building a new arena to replace decrepit Nassau Coliseum, though they still have four or five years remaining on their lease.
"That team is not staying in that building a minute longer than they have to," Bettman said.
The complete audio of Bettman's chat is below.