With the All-Star Weekend upon us, I figured it was a good time to catch up with Gary Bettman. The NHL commissioner will soon be celebrating his 18th anniversary on the job. Among other topics, he shared some thoughts on some of the league's recent high-profile events, the continuing battle against head injuries and the change to the All-Star format.
E.J. Hradek: How did you feel about HBO's "24/7?"
Commissioner Gary Bettman: We thought from a league and fan and team perspective, it was terrific. The feedback that we have gotten across the board has been universal praise for what HBO Sports did. Ross Greenburg, the president of HBO Sports, deserves all the credit. The execution was magnificent.
It gave people an insight to what goes on around our game. It gave people -- not just hockey fans -- a level of access that I don't think any other sport has given. I think that's all to the good, because you see the personalities, you see what it's like to be involved with a club.
And, perhaps most importantly, athletes in all sports sometimes get knocked that they only do it for the money. You couldn't come away from "24/7" without seeing the passionate way in which our players feel about winning and losing.
They live and breathe the game. They are committed to it. When they win, you see the joy. And when they lose, you see the agony. And it couldn't have been any more vivid. I think HBO Sports did a magnificent job of portraying our game.
EJH: Might we see a second NHL edition of the HBO Sports reality show next winter?
GB: They are interested in continuing this. And, those are discussions that we have to have. Whether or not we do it or we do it in the same form or we focus on something else is something that we've yet to formally discuss. I think that goes in the "debriefing" category. It was a great experience for everybody and I would anticipate that we would do it again.