Found February 09, 2012 on Fox Sports Ohio:
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BY STEPH GREEGOR FOXSportsOhio.comOn the heels of a Columbus Blue Jackets fan protest and a same-day announcement that the club would host the 2013 NHL All Star game, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made his way to Central Ohio tonight to watch the team take on the Dallas Stars.We are thrilled to be bringing the All Star game to Columbus. We believe very much in this franchise and the city, Bettman told the media. A league event of that magnitude hasnt hit city streets since Columbus hosted the NHL draft in 2007.When I look out the window and see the Arena District, I think back to everything this club and this building has meant to this city and were very excited about it. Were very proud of it. And were grateful for the support weve gotten from the city.Bettman said his trip isnt in response to the disgruntled fan base that made its unhappiness known via protests as the team suffers through one of their worst seasons. Were aware of the fact that theres a little bit of frustration by some fans on the on-ice performance and I can assure you, because I know it first-hand, theres nobody more frustrated than the ownership and management and nobody more committed to getting it right on the ice than management, said Bettman.The fan base has become vocal about their displeasure. A sign, said Bettman, that he believes is a positive one. Hed rather be booed on the ice than skate out to a silent crowd.I know about that first hand, he said.We know that this is a good hockey market and the fact that fans are frustrated tells you how badly they want a winner and how committed they are to the franchise, said Bettman.I have no doubt about the future of this franchise. The Blue Jackets sit last in the league with 36 points and are on par to have the worst season in their 11 year existence. Theyve stopped playing for a chance at Sir Stanley and are now simply playing to hold their heads high. Despite that, the fan base remains passionate. Bettman said the strong hockey market is what compelled the league to have Columbus host the All Star game.On a macro basis we view the role of our franchises as very important to a community. We know a community makes an investment to a team both financially and emotionally, he said. We believe that when you get that kind of support, and this franchise has gotten tremendous support in Columbus, we need to make sure that everythings being done to make it worthwhile.As for whether or not Columbus will get a winter classic at Ohio Stadium, Bettman joked, We just did the All Star game, you want more right now? He said the league hasnt looked that far ahead and besides, he quipped, he had no idea what the weather would be like on Jan. 1 in Columbus for the outdoor event.In other news surrounding the Blue Jackets, Bettman said the L.A. Kings incident at Staples Center, where the clock seemingly stopped for a full second in the last minute of the game allowing the Kings to score and win 3-2, is still under investigation. All the individuals involved have been interviewed, he said, and the league is now waiting to inspect the clock equipment. He said new procedures will be instituted so that the war room in Toronto can monitor game clocks, particularly during the last minute of each period. He said hes hoping for those procedures to be in place by the playoffs.The Blue Jackets visit the Minnesota Wild Saturday. Game time is 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Ohio. The club plays at home again Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. Game time is 6 p.m.Follow Steph Greegor on Twitter: @Greegor23
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