Bettman takes a shot at NHL fighting debate

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 11, 2013
When Gary Bettman approached Ray Emery during the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup celebration at the White House, many wondered what would happen. The Philadelphia Flyers goaltender had drawn leaguewide attention a few days earlier for skating the length of the ice to fight an unwilling combatant in Braden Holtby. ''I said: `Oh, Ray. It's good to see you. I've been thinking about you.' We had a nice chat,'' the commissioner said. ''And I said, `So just hypothetically, if there was a rule that said if you cross the red line to get into a fight with the other goaltender and you get a 10-game suspension, would you have done it?' He goes, `What? Are you crazy?''' It might not be a 10-game suspension, but NHL general managers will discuss potential changes to fighting rules Tuesday at their annual meeting. ''I think the level of dialogue gets sparked by an occasional incident, and an incident of this nature when you look at everything else that is going on in the season was really a small pebble relative to a beach full of sand, which is seeing an incredibly entertaining season,'' Bettman said Monday. ''I think sometimes an incident, as rare as it might be, tends to get focused on disproportionately.'' During his remarks at the Prime Time Sports Management conference in Toronto, Bettman called fighting a ''thermostat'' in hockey that helps cool things down when tensions run high. ''When Vinny Lecavalier was in a fight with (Jarome) Iginla ... they got mad at each other,'' he said during his question-and-answer session. ''I'd rather them be punching each other than swinging sticks at each other.'' One of the arguments against the abolition of fighting, or even making the punishment a game misconduct or suspension, is that it would cause more high-sticks and cheap shots. Bettman said feelings on both sides of the fighting debate are ''really dug in.'' ''To say you're getting rid of fighting, I'm not even sure what that means because you can change the penalty and make it more severe,'' he said. ''That doesn't mean if somebody's sufficiently motivated, they're not going to fight. So we'll take the hypothetical. You get thrown out of the game if you fight. OK, I think guys will still fight if they feel the need.'' Bettman wants to take the pulse of GMs. That includes feelings about goaltenders fighting and other topics. Emery was not suspended for pummeling Holtby because there is nothing in the rules to use as precedent. Bettman expects a ''general discussion'' but does not think any rule changes will come about just yet. He adds that the current rules, which include a five-minute major for fighting and extra penalties stemming from the instigator and third-man-in rules, represent the consensus among GMs. ''If somebody wants to change it, there needs to be a new consensus,'' he said. ''That's why the discussion's ongoing. Having said that, it continues to evolve as the game does. Four years ago, a shoulder hit to the head was not penalized. Now it'll get you suspended. We're going to continue to look at what we can do to keep the game physical but safe as possible.'' Senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan, who is being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night, is expected to address the GMs. Bettman clearly does not want the issue of fighting to overshadow other developments this season - the Colorado Avalanche's hot start, strong television ratings and arenas filled to 95 percent of capacity. Another topic drawing attention is expansion because of unbalanced divisions created by realignment. Having 32 teams would even out the divisions, but Bettman says there are no such plans in the works. ''I don't envision right now going through a formal expansion process,'' he said after the conference. ''We get expressions of interest all the time. Those are informal conversations that we have, but in terms of a formal bid process, I'm not focused on doing anything like that right now.''
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: David Fizdale to be Grizzlies new head coach

Raptors players seen at casino at 2 a.m. before blowout loss

Tony Romo wants to play four or five more seasons

Report: Baylor fires head coach Art Briles

Titans already impressed with DeMarco Murray

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Warriors owner Joe Lacob argued with Thunder fan

Mario Williams excited to ‘cut it loose’ for Dolphins

Wright: Harvey needs to show accountability, speak to media

Ex-city employee: Inglewood tampered books to get Rams

Report: Manning not suing Al Jazeera over HGH allegation

Cavaliers fan gets in shouting match with Dwane Casey

Joc Pederson: Barry Bonds snubbed me on photo request

Major League Baseball's five most tortured playoff teams

Every time an NBA team came back from a 3-1 deficit (and what it means for the Warriors)

Brad Ausmus’ meltdown hoodie fetches $5,000 at auction

Early look at MLB’s Top 10 MVP candidates

Teddy Bridgewater meets young fan who wrote rap about him

Cavs use Justin Bieber, Drake to distract Raptors during FTs

Lowry had classic reaction while looking at Game 5 box score

Sharks advance to first Stanley Cup Final

Maryland's Melo Trimble returning to school

Showtime sues Pacquiao’s promoter over Mayweather fight issue

Geno Smith not answering questions about Ryan Fitzpatrick

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Every time an NBA team came back from a 3-1 deficit (and what it means for the Warriors)

How disallowed goals can change the course of NHL games

The five most disappointing MLB teams this season

QUIZ: Identify these NHL Hall of Famers by their nicknames

QUIZ: Name every winner of the Belmont Stakes since 1867

Sniping quotes highlight NHL conference finals animosity

QUIZ: Name every NBA franchise's original incarnation

The 15 biggest playoff upsets in NBA history

Cy Young Award contenders at the quarter mark of the season

QUIZ: Name the NHL franchises that have never won the Stanley Cup

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker