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Bettman on Post-Lockout Playing Style

We'll have some more notes and quotes from this morning's skates in a bit, but in the meantime... The commissioners of the four major U.S. pro sports leagues held a panel discussion in New York today, and The Post's Mark Maske jotted down a few notes for the hockey folk:

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said during a panel discussion today that the sport's revised economic structure has helped to make its on-ice product an increasingly skill-based game.

Bettman said that before hockey's work stoppage, the great disparities in team-by-team player payrolls made some franchises believe they couldn't afford the most skilled players and they needed to use a rugged on-ice style to compete. Now with an economic system that keeps teams' payrolls within $16 million of each other -- between $40 million and $56 million -- teams vie for skilled players on a more even basis, Bettman said.

"It was as much about... the economics at the time," Bettman said during the panel discussion, hosted in New York by the Wall Street Journal and carried online, with fellow commissioners David Stern of the NBA, Roger Goodell of the NFL and Bud Selig of Major League Baseball. "... What you spend is no longer the issue."

Bettman expressed satisfaction with the league's current overall style of play.

"All we've done is opened the game up to allow skilled players to play as skilled players," Bettman said.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  May 6, 2009; 11:42 AM ET
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Next: Kunitz: 'It Looks Bad on Tape'


"All we've done is opened the game up to allow skilled players to play as skilled players," Bettman said.

Really? Letting a hot goalie get crosschecked in the head is allowing that, you f@#*ing quack? You're a liar and thats why everyone, EVERYONE, boos you wherever you go.

Posted by: oo7 | May 6, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

heres hoping that Bettman is not successful in making the NHL nothing more than a glorified flag hockey league.

Posted by: doughless | May 6, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Nickname: "The Playpen"

Here is a picture of the starting line + Fleury at the new Playpen. Fleury is on the right side. Cindy is 3rd from the left.

Posted by: washingtonpost31

from last post:
too f'in funny
everyone has to check out cindy

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | May 6, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I hate that twitchy little freak.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | May 6, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Kirk, I think that's Malkin in the back. The one who's trying to pretend he isn't in the picture. He obviously wants to be a Cap. And is Fleury picking his nose?

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | May 6, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

names for the pens new arena
"flop house"
"the house that mario couldn't build"

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 6, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I just hope Kunitz can still feed his family after his $2500 fine.

Posted by: SA-Town | May 6, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

that picture is awesome!
I'm offering "the Playpen" as a name for the new Pittsburgh arena.

Posted by: oo7 | May 6, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

From Corey's blog:

At Penguins pracitce yesterday, several players and coach Dan Bylsma talked about the ways the Caps help Alex Ovechkin get open -- and claimed they are setting illegal picks to do it.

Well, Bruce Boudreau doesn't see it that way.

"It's just jockeying and whining -- that's enough of it."

Go Boud! What is with all of these team's lately? First the Rangers and now Pittsburgh's going to start. I find it amazing that they're complaining after how uneven the calls started out this series and when Kunitz just got away with one on Varlamov.

Posted by: capsfantess | May 6, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Bet they left room for a gigantic complaint box in the plans for their new arena.

Posted by: mikebrady1 | May 6, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

dang, playpen was part of the picture post. I posted too late. Oh well, I'll take credit for it anyway : )

Posted by: oo7 | May 6, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bettman: Avery, Orpik, and Kunitz say you're completely full of crap.

Posted by: redlineblue | May 6, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

bylsma is just working the refs, which is what he's supposed to do. bouds is trying to deflect it, which is what he's supposed to do.

pens are mad about ovie's goal in the first game cause they think green picked staal. green actually skated to the net and staal initiated contact. was not interference or a pick. now, semin on cooke in the last game? legitmite gripe but negated by the non call to kunitz.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 6, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

check this out: avery and kunitz - the early years:

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | May 6, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin's White Hat

Does anyone know where to get one of those? Its the one he always wears during interviews recently. I figured it was part of his streetwear clothing line, but you can't find it anywhere... only the black hat.

Can anyone help a season ticket holder? graycalx at gmail dot com if you know... thanks guys!

Posted by: nowanna1 | May 6, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I see the Semin on Cooke play happen often without being called a penalty. I agree that its technically a penalty but its nice to see players battle each other off a faceoff. Semin deserves a huge nod for that effort. Lets hope he doesn't retract his head back into his shell tonight. He's very inconsistent that kid

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 6, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse


Eric Fehr is not on the ice for the Caps morning skate, but he is riding an excercise bike. The Caps have not called anyone up, so it looks like Michael Nylander will replace him if he can't play.

Meanwhile, John Erskine is on the ice. Bruce Boudreau said he's a game-time decision. Jeff Schultz, Tyler Sloan and Karl Alzner are all out there too.

Kris Letang skated for the Penguins this morning, and Dan Bylsma just said he's a game-time decision.

Posted by: SA-Town | May 6, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

what a flyer fan thinks of Crosby

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 6, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Man, I'm nervous for this game. You know the Pens are going to come out like the Caps stole something.

The best way to initially neutralize the crowd and the adrenaline rush is to control the puck and slow the game down a bit. Easier said than done.

A quick Caps goal would do the trick as well.

Posted by: Moose33 | May 6, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse


It's from his clothing line, which you can buy on his website. I think it's

Posted by: Hatfield223 | May 6, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Too bad for Nylander being on the 4th line. His style is not 4th line material. He's a playmaker that since his return has not been given opportunities with the skilled players enough. His longest stint was with Flash and Fehr, and they clicked pretty well, but their production is down significantly since January. I know that Flash has two goals in the playoffs but he is the weak link on the 2nd line, and when he is on the PP. Not sure what else has fueled Nylander's decent with the Caps but his minutes have been down all season. He is a second line wing at worst. If he would have played 20 games along side the same two forwards, whether as a wing or center he would have been extremely productive. Instead, and many pointed this out throughout the season, BB tinkered with lines, sometimes out of necessity due to injury, and Nylander never really got a chance on the top two lines for very long.

He was not going to work on a line with Ovechkin because Ovi a quick brutal strike player. He would have been better suited with a line that rotates well out of the corners with Koz and Laich. Nylander is a talented hockey player, with a big paycheck, in a tough situation.

The man has 679 points in 920 NHL games (.738 pts per game). His playoff number are good too he has 34 pts in 46 NHL playoff games (.739 pts per game). The man can play, he just needs the right players around him. His talent is finding an open man, but scoring is not the top priority for the 3rd and 4th lines (where he has played virtually all season) their goal is to be shut-down lines.

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 6, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

"After watching Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin beat him with four shots through two games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said Tuesday he would not be surprised if Ovechkin plays with an illegally curved stick blade.
"'I haven't taken a look at it,' Fleury said. 'The puck sometimes sticks to it pretty good, even if it's bouncing.'


Ovechkin, who has scored 50 goals in a season three times, has never been caught using an illegal stick during a game. Former New York Rangers coach Tom Renney once challenged a blade used by Ovechkin, but officials determined it was legal."

- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

HAHAHAHAHA Yea Fleury, it's totally not your fault he keeps scoring on you. Keep tellin yourself that

Posted by: mrszilla | May 6, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Nylander needs someone to do Circles with. ie; Jagr, and other non north-south style forwards.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 6, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse


So nice to read a non-bashing post about Nylander. Thanks.

Posted by: mikebrady1 | May 6, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse


Fleury, how bout yo go complain about Spezza or know...guys who ACTUALLY use illegal curves.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 6, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse


I hope the Nylander bashers read that and understand because that is exactly right. In limited time tonight I hope he busts his ass and him and Clark can get on the scoresheet.

Posted by: ThePat | May 6, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

If Letang plays for Pens, he's got a bum left shoulder and the Caps should hit him every time he has the puck (legally) as well as Gonchar. They are the key to starting the Pens offensive rush and are their two pointmen on the power play. Take those two away and the Pens power play will be a lot less effective.

The Pens have been consistently running Green after he passes the puck and it looks like they are doing the same to a lesser degree with Poti. Caps need to apply the same type of physical pressure on the Pens defense without committing any stupid penalties.

Posted by: wizfan89 | May 6, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

My rant is in support of Nylander. He is a puck possession guy as others have said and the only mistake BB has made in his coaching tenure IMHO. BB has given Flash and Fehr many more chances at redemption with top guys than he has Nylander. Nylander may have ticked BB off by speaking his mind about his playing time, even when dressed, because his minutes have been consistently low which is why his production is down even though he has dressed for so many games. We will probably never know the true story behind Nylander's demise because both he and BB are too classy to air that dirty laundry.

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 6, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Although I would sooner see Aucoin, my money says Nyls has something to prove to his many detractors and will play with a lot more energy than the likes of no-hitem Kozlov and Green.

Speaking of which would it be to much to ask Green to finally show up after 9 games and be the player he was during the regular season...we're all waiting for his break out geam. Let's hope it is tonight! And if he is ailing us a favour and ride the pines. On a bad day Alzner and Sloan can play better than Green has.

Go Caps!

Posted by: capper3 | May 6, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Fehr is out? Does he play for us?(sarcasm)

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 6, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Nylander needs someone to do Circles with. ie; Jagr, and other non north-south style forwards.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 6, 2009 12:36 PM |

Posted by: richmondphil | May 6, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Bettman is a tool who caters to certain teams like Pittsburgh who the NHL would like to see advance....people think its all Colin Campbell's fault for Kunitz not getting suspended, but you'd be kidding yourself if he doesn't get input from Bettman.

Bettman is also trying to block the purchase of the bankrupt Phoenix franchise by a potential owner who wants the team back in Canada. He needs to face it that Phoenix will not support a team even if it coached by Gretzky and has some decent talent. He needs to let the potential buyer have a legitimate shot to purchase the franchise if there is a plan in place to move it to Ontario.

Posted by: wizfan89 | May 6, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

No suspension for Avery. Brashear an absurd 6-game suspension. No suspension for Kunitz or Orpik. Just ridiculous. The game itself is great. The officiating and league actions have been horrible. But as we all saw on Monday night, a pissed off Caps team is dangerous. Blink and Ovechkin will score on you!

Posted by: dsphvywght | May 6, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

If Nylander plays tonight, it may be his only chance to salvage a career quickly going down the toilet. One hopes he will see this as an opportunity and play well on any line he is put on. Hockey is a pretty simple game and he simply needs to play like he knows what he is doing for a change.

Posted by: majiksea | May 6, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

put it this way, if nyles plays and the Caps lose, this will likely be Nylander's last game with the Caps and possibly his last game as a pro. Unless of course he somehow scores a goal. Boudreau usually juggles the bottom half of his lineup after a loss. And our 3rd line isn't going anywhere, and Gordo and Clark are cemented in on the 4th line.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 6, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"the house that mario couldn't build"

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 6, 2009 12:00 PM |

HAHAHAHA, I just read this.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 6, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 6, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

the NHL also hosed Detroit last night with that bizare "intent to whistle" call. You know, a team with a whole bunch of Euro stars on it, who happen to be playing against a team with a reputation for thuggary and cheap hits, and is very "North American."

I guess Bettman figures if he can rig things to get Sid through to the finals again, he does him no go to have Detroit waiting. So gotta knock out Detroit and that traitorous turncoat Hossa.....

Posted by: RedBirdie | May 6, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, that was funny when you told Bruce to give you a call when he sees Semin. Glad to see that you and BB are getting some chemistry going.

Posted by: ejohnsto | May 6, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm with the non-haters here. I think Nylander's going to come out jumping. He's fast and possesses well. At the end of the season he began to go at net, taking shots and seeking rebouds, and actually made things happen.

Nyls was all wrong for the Rangers series, and like another poster I'd rather see Aucoin, but I think he will contribute tonight.

Posted by: Sonyask | May 6, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Again majiksea, Nylander's job definition on the 4th line is much different than if he was to play on line 2. Anyone who thinks Flash has played well is blinded by his game winning goal that he almost flubbed. It was yet another 1 on 1 with the goaltender that he still hit Fleury with before it went into the net. I know I will never see it happen but Backs and Semin would benefit greatly having Nylander rather than Flash. Again, this is just my opinion.

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 6, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

It's a little astonishing to me how much faith Bruce is putting in Flash. Flash has stepped it up the last couple, but he's got a ways to go to get into Steckel territory.

Posted by: Sonyask | May 6, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse


Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was noncommittal on the status of defenseman Kris Letang for Wednesday night's Game 3. Letang was crunched along the boards near the end of Game 2 by Washington defenseman Mike Green and seemed to be favoring his shoulder or side.

"He's still being evaluated," Bylsma said. "He's much better than we initially thought. We thought it might not be a great injury, but he's much better right now. It's a strength issue."

If Letang, who has not scored in these playoffs, cannot play, look for veteran Philippe Boucher to return to the lineup. He came in once during the opening round in place of Letang.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 6, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Pittsburg Paper - notice no mention of the cross-check-obstruction to Varly's head which allowed Cindy to get his 3rd.

Washington possesses a lethal power play, with highly skilled personnel such as Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Alexander Semin, among others.

And the Capitals are more dangerous with the extra man when they're allowed to bend -- or, as the Penguins see it, flat-out break -- rules designed to prevent players from obstructing opponents.

The Penguins believe that happened in Game 1 of their second-round series against the Capitals, when Green picked Jordan Staal just before Ovechkin scored during a two-man advantage, and again late in Game 2, when Semin tripped Matt Cooke as he was scrambling to get in front of Ovechkin before he got off a shot that beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to break a 2-2 tie in Washington's 4-3 victory.

"Those are situations we always address with the referees," coach Dan Bylsma said. "They told us on the ice [during Game 2] that they were looking for that situation and didn't feel it merited a call."

The Penguins, not surprisingly, saw it differently.

"It's a blatant play," Cooke said. "I'm nowhere near the puck. He's not allowed to touch me. He's not allowed to trip me. The rules are the rules."

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 6, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Does this whining remind anyone of the 80's? Down 2-0 the Pens are nit-picking; obstruction- illegal sticks- whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! PENGUINS SUCK! Let's get a win tonight and a pound of flesh and shut up these babies!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 6, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The Penguins believe that happened in Game 1 of their second-round series against the Capitals, when Green picked Jordan Staal just before Ovechkin scored during a two-man advantage, and again late in Game 2, when Semin tripped Matt Cooke as he was scrambling to get in front of Ovechkin before he got off a shot that beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to break a 2-2 tie in Washington's 4-3 victory.

they need to watch this play again. i did. green made a pass from the point and skated to a spot just to the side of the net, next to staal. staal actually initiated contact with green. green did not move as the puck was moved around for the one timer from ovie. green is allowed his spot on the ice. he did not move and block staal. besides, it happened well before the shot was taken.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 6, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Nothing from Bettman about his current Excedrin Headache #1? You'd think he'd mention the financial shenanigans going on with the Phoenix Coyotes/Hamilton Blackberries/Kansas City Roughriders/whatever they'll be called next year...

Posted by: MikeL-Caps91 | May 6, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Bettman - you should have contracted the league by 5 or so teams during the lockout: Tampa, Florida, Atlanta, Nashville, and most especially, Phoenix. u r clownshoes -- the southern strategy is a big failure,

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | May 6, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I thought that you couldn't alter the curve of a composite stick? How can Ovechkin have a composite stick with an illegal curve unless the company that made them constructed it with an illegal curve? Anyone?

Posted by: oo7 | May 6, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

5-0-1 against Pitt this year. Let em keep whining how life is not fair, we will just keep beating them.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 6, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

oo7, you can still heat a composite enough to alter the bend slightly.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | May 6, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

you can manipulate these sticks just like wood ones. also, the stick manufacturers are not in the business of enforcing rules. if ovie wants a banana stick, ovie gets a banana stick.

i find it funny that some of the "proof" they are relying on is that ovie changes his stick quite often..duh. all the top guys do. the way these sticks break, you need a fresh one all the time.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 6, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Cooke is a rediculous. If you watch the face-off both he and Semin went towards the face-off dot as the puck was dropped, shoulder to shoulder, the puck was quickly moved back to Green who quickly passed it to Ovi who upon the drop of the puck backed into a wide open position. The contact between Cooke and Semin was a fight for a potential loose puck in the circle, which it wasn't, and after Cooke realized he was waaaaaaaaaay out of position he was already tangled up with Semin whose stick dip trip Cooke but only because Cooke tried to go through the space that Semin occupied. Cooke would not have gotten to Ovi even if he hadn't fallen. The only way he would have been able to accomplish that is if he would have headed directly to his spot at the top of the box rather than fight for a puck that wasn't there.

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 6, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse


Thanks, but unfortunately its not in any of the streetware stores (so far I only know of one [prohockeylife], and now, but that site only seems to sell a pendant).

So still looking if anyone's found it.

Posted by: nowanna1 | May 6, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

an interesting piece by Muir at CNNSI today. They try to keep up and I totally agee with his last two bits: Green and the Kunitz shot. I think he puts into words how I've seen Green in the playoffs and essentially promotes cutting his time if he's injured and keeping him fresher for the PPs. No benching, no forward, just less time. I find that very reasonable.

Posted by: saintex | May 6, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

This here is what NHL's VP of Operations said on the subject and I agree 100% with him. I'm the biggest hockey fan you'll ever find yet I stopped watching the NHL for a few years because that was not hockey. It was excruciatingly boring. I get frustrated too with some of the penalties, but the game overall is light years better and more exciting to watch.


On hooking penalties assessed when a player's stick comes parallel to the ice: "There are going to be plays in a game where we don't like the call, you don't like the call, the fans don't like the call. But the call is made because we've been instructed to prevent players from putting sticks on other players . . . They (the NHL GMs) don't want the game going back to the hooking and the holding and the blocking and the interference that there was in the late '90s and into the 2000s . . . They say, 'We don't like the call. But we'll live with it because the game is way better and way faster. The small, skilled player is able to survive.'

"It might not please a lot of people, but that's the truth. We don't just arbitrarily decide: 'This is a good call.' We know there are some calls that aren't the greatest. But this is the direction we've been given. And I think it's worked.

"I think the game is outstanding. It's skillful. It's fast. You can come from behind. The fact that the Devils came back from a 3-0 deficit tells me that this game works. It's an entertaining, exciting game. And I'm not so sure it was that way going back to pre-lockout."

Posted by: ranndino | May 6, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Steckel hustles but if anyone thinks he's got NHL top-6 forward potential they're crazy, he simply does not have elite hands or vision [or quickness for that matter - for a big guy he loses too many loose puck battles].

I realize Flash hasn't quite done it yet but he at least has the potential to - the guy was the best player at Hershey, hands down. He's snakebit but when he pops out of it watch out.

Posted by: govtimbo | May 6, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

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