Gary Bettman talks playoff format, expansion, salary cap and more

As NHL general managers’ meetings continued in Florida on Wednesday, commissioner Gary Bettman took the time to chat with the media about several topics discussed at the meeting and beyond.

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The salary cap

For the first time, the NHL has added a small wrinkle to its stance on next year’s salary cap projections.

With the escrow “approaching $100 million,” according to Bettman, CEOs left today’s meetings under the impression that the cap would only increase by a measly $1 million. However, while speaking with the media, Bettman made a point that woke up some insiders.

“I think it’s more likely than not that we’ll still see an escrow balance,” Bettman explained. “But I guess there is always a possibility of discussions once the new executive director of the players’ association (starts).”

This new executive director, former US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, officially takes office in the players’ association. Mondaywhich would seem to indicate that working towards next year’s cap could be the first major item on its agenda.

Playoff format

As has been repeated in the past, Bettman and the NHL are sticking to the current divisional playoff format. Bettman’s message this time around was once again the status quo – despite some general managers publicly disagree – in that the league has no interest in making changes to the playoff format.

“We think what we have is working very well,” Bettman said. “I know some people prefer to do things differently, but it’s working well and we’re not looking to make any changes.”

Bettman also highlighted the rankings of the last few weeks and how they having reflected the 1v8 format that existed before 2014.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to reporters at general managers’ meetings in Florida on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Senators Sale Update

While the sale of the Ottawa Senators is underway, Bettman gave a little insight into the bidding process, but failed to divulge specifics. The NHL commissioner confirmed that the first round of offers had been submitted, with TSN’s Chris Johnston pointing out that there are between four and five offers in total at the moment.

” It is a work in progress. I think it’s fair to say that there is strong and significant interest in (buying) senators,” the commissioner said.

Bettman also noted that while the second phase of bidding was still a bit advanced, the situation at this point would take weeks to materialize.

Longer overtime hours

Although Bettman has not publicly discussed the issue, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that work to increase overtime — up to seven minutes — was underway and had been discussed at meetings.

Dreger explained that with testing in the ECHL, the results have been positive, though the decision likely comes down to entertainment value rather than competitive integrity.

Additionally, any rule changes of this nature would have to go through the NHL’s competition committee, which includes the players’ association, which leaves the final say on the matter likely to the superstars who would presumably take the extra time if the games were extended.

Expansion on the horizon?

Like ESPN Kevin Weekes And John Buccigross both reported, there remains interest in expanding the NHL to markets like Atlanta. Bettman confirmed this on Wednesday, but also made sure to pour cold water on the imminence of one of those plans.

“There continue to be a number of people, entities and cities that are expressing an interest in having an NHL franchise where they don’t have one,” he told reporters. “Places like Atlanta, Houston, Quebec. But we’re not in expansion mode right now.

Trade related stripes

The final point Bettman emphasized during his Wednesday availability surrounded this year’s explosion of “trade-related scratches,” though his words and demeanor don’t seem to indicate anything wrong. urgent on the matter.

“It’s something we’re going to have to watch to see if this year was an aberration based on how the teams were playing,” Bettman explained. “If this is a continuing trend, we need to ask ourselves if this is a problem and what are we going to do about it. And it’s far from where we are”

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