On Monday evening, prior to puck drop of Game One of the Stanley Cup Final between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly addressed the media in a customary pre-Cup Final press conference.
Of the most important issues pertaining to the Blackhawks, Bettman and Daly addressed the issues regarding the multiple lawsuits and allegations against the organization stemming from incidents in 2010 between former players and former video coach Brad Aldrich.
Prior to today, both the league and the Blackhawks have been silent on the issues and allegations while the reporting and investigations into these incidents grew over the past week. This morning, the Blackhawks announced the hiring of a former federal prosecutor to lead an “independent review” of the 2010 incidents and the way in which the team handled that situation.
Bettman addressed the way the league would handle the situation:
"All options are available if there's something that warrants punishment. We need to wait and see the result of the investigation… Everybody needs to not get ahead of themselves. These are allegations that relate to a period of time that is quite some time ago."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) June 28, 2021
In what is typical fashion for the NHL, they will be reactionary.
Yes, allowing the legal process to play itself out is part of the way things will work, but hiding behind the “independent review” that the Blackhawks have coordinated for themselves looks soft on the league. To me, this signals a chance that if these lawsuits never reach the courts, supplemental discipline will likely not be levied against the Blackhawks by the league.
This will likely be the only time we hear from Bettman, Daly, and the league on the issues until the legal process is over.
Along with addressing the allegations against the Blackhawks, Bettman and Daly addressed a couple of house-cleaning issues for the league heading into the 2021-22 season.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is planning to return to a normal schedule next season, including the Winter Classic in Minnesota, the All-Star Game in Las Vegas, and the Stadium Series in Nashville.
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) June 28, 2021
• The NHL expects to return to a normal, 82-game schedule for the 2021-22 season.
• The “series-style” of scheduling from the 2020-21 season will be incorporated into the 2021-22 season and that the season will begin between October 10-15.
• 2022 Winter Classic will be hosted by the Minnesota Wild at Target Field on New Year’s Day. They will take on the St. Louis Blues.
• The 2022 NHL All-Star game will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
• Finally, the Nashville Predators will host a 2022 Stadium Series game at Nissan Stadium (where the Titans play) against the Tampa Bay Lightning in February 2022.
Daly and Bettman also addressed the ongoing developments surrounding the league’s participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics, which we are still currently assuming NHL players will play in, but it appears that the league office is not so sure on that any more.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly both said the League has concerns about if it's sensible to go to the 2022 Olympics. They negotiated in good faith with the NHLPA to go if all agreements were in place and that remains. But time is running short.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) June 28, 2021
It will be really disappointing to see another Winter Olympics go by without NHL player participation. The games are not the same.
Bettman also spoke about the use of helmet and sweater ads moving forward. It appears helmet ads are here to stay, which isn’t surprising, and sweater ads are not going to be a thing just yet.
Bettman says helmet sponsors continue, but no jersey ads for next year
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 28, 2021
I know you’ll want to get all up in a huff about ads being placed on sweaters, but just accept that it is going to happen in the next few years. If the helmet ad revenue has taught the NHL anything, it’s that money talks.
Finally, Ken Campbell had an interesting exchange with Bettman over the putrid officiating we have seen during the 2020-21 season and postseason. According to Bettman, everything is awesome.
So according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the NHL's on-ice officials are the best in any sport and they're directed to call the game the same from the beginning of the season until the Stanley Cup final. And they only have missed one or two calls. Got it.
— Ken Campbell (@Ken_Campbell27) June 28, 2021
I love hockey.
The NHL is the biggest hockey league on the planet.
It remains the worst-run league for the best sport in the world.