It’s business as usual.
That was the message NHL commissioner Gary Bettman delivered to all 30 general managers on Wednesday to close out their meetings here in South Florida, telling them to proceed normally despite some uncertainty over the salary cap and collective bargaining agreement going into the off-season.
Bettman then met with gathered media for roughly 10 minutes afterward to provide updates on a few of the items discussed over the past three days.
Here were the highlights:
On the CBA talks, which he was reluctant to discuss: “We told the clubs to conduct business as usual and the update is there was no update. There’s nothing going on [in terms of talks]..
“The fact is when the union is ready to negotiate, we’ll be ready to sit down. I’m not particularly concerned about the timeline. There’s plenty of time.”
On the NHLPA: “We have new union leadership, a lot of new personnel, and my guess is they still have a lot of work to do. And I’m okay with that. When they’re ready, we’re ready.”
On the salary cap going up over the summer before a new CBA comes in: “Revenues continue to grow so you know how the system works. Revenues grow, the cap grows.”
On the current CBA’s flaws: “Structurally, the fundamentals of the system have done what we expected, but I assume that when we sit down to bargain, both sides are going to have issues they want to focus on. But I have no intention of being specific yet on where we are.”
On the Phoenix Coyotes situation: “You’ve heard me say this more times than I care to say it: It remains a work in progress. There’s still a number of groups that are engaged in the process, and we’re still in close contact with the city. At some point, we may have to [turn the page] I’m hoping not to get to that point, and I’m not setting a deadline for it.”
On the St. Louis Blues ownership change: “Continues to be on track for Tom Stillman’s purchase of the club. I got an update from him as recently as yesterday that things seem to be [on track]”
On concussions: “The hard numbers are roughly equivalent to what they were last season at this point and I view that to be a positive because I think we’re diagnosing more than we ever were before.
“I don’t think the number of incidents is up. I just think we’re doing a better job of diagnosing it. I think we’re diagnosing more aggressively and treating more conservatively which is why you’re seeing more man-games lost.
“It’s a subject that continues to get a great deal of attention and energy from us. We continue to meet with responsible people in the area and we’re continuing to educate. From what we’re doing from a player safety standpoint, I think we’re changing the culture of the game.”