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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman listens as he meets with reporters after a meeting with team owners, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in New York. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman listens as he meets with reporters after a meeting with team owners, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in New York. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Q&A WITH GARY BETTMAN

Gary Bettman: The lightning rod Add to ...

A: Absolutely not. Not true. The fact is the owners are completely unified and they all understand the importance of having a healthy and strong league. I know there has been a lot of discussion and debate about revenue sharing. That’s not an issue from our standpoint. Never has been. We have repeatedly said we are prepared to expand the coverage and increase the amounts. That’s just a red herring. The owners are completely informed and completely unified.

Q: Would it be a red herring when it is said the NHL will threaten to cancel the Winter Classic, which has become the single most important event of the year for the league? Is this potentially a leverage position?

A: I don’t like the use of such terms that you use, with all due respect, of ‘threaten’ and ‘leverage.’ There will come a point, I am sure, where we will have to make a decision where we will have to begin spending millions of dollars to create the event. That’s not something we do on Dec. 31. It’s something that months in advance we have to start working on. When I am advised that the financial commitments are going to have to be made, we are going to have to evaluate whether or not we are comfortable making those expenditures and commitments – if there is still uncertainty.

Q: What is the single hardest concept to get across to the public without talking in detail about what the back and forth has been?

A: I’m not sure it’s about a concept. If I’m a fan, I want my hockey. And I am not really sure I care who is right and who is wrong, I just want it fixed. I understand that. I respect that. I am a fan. I want my hockey. And it’s something that drives us 24/7 to try and get it right.

Q: That is certainly what I sense – people do not care about the details, they just want to see hockey.

A: First and foremost, we’re fans. Putting aside the players, who obviously play for love of the game as well as the financial aspect, there are thousands of people who work at the clubs, who work at the league and we are all in this because we love the game. This is hard for everybody.

Q: Will the Olympics be decided in the CBA that should come out of these negotiations?

A: I know that we are going to be addressing international issues. … I think we’re in agreement on this that as we address the international aspects of the game going forward that We have got to look at everything: the Olympics, the World Cup, the world championships and the various things that we think we can do to extend the reach of the game worldwide, even more than it already is. I don’t view that as a bargaining chip for either side. I view that more as problem-solving and working together to figure out the right solution.

Q: A lot of people say that there should be a mediator involved. If I’m not mistaken back in 2004 (then Canadian) Prime Minister Paul Martin called for just such a solution. Is that a possibility?

A: Typically, mediators are used when one side or another is looking to change the expectations of their constituent. I believe that both sides fully understand each other, fully understand the nature of the issues. If I thought a mediator would be helpful I would of course agree to it. But nobody is suggesting it at this point.

Q: Can hockey survive another lost year?

A: I sure hope we don’t have to find out.

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