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In his own words Add to ...

On head shots and concussions:

"I believe that [new]Rule 48 has been effective in dealing with lateral or blindside hits where the head is the primary point of contact. We're still seeing more concussions than we'd like. We have a very strong history going back to the late '90s of being pro-active on injuries, in particular concussions by doing, among other things, base-line testing. We need to continue to focus on this and see what we can do to eliminate as much as possible concussions from the game, acknowledging that there is a physical element to our game so that there will undoubtedly be some level of concussions."

On the theory that it requires a concussion to the likes of star Sidney Crosby to initiate action:

"I don't buy that characterization. In fact, in his case it was a collision. It didn't violate Rule 48. It didn't fit within any other criterion of what would get punished or suspended. That was a consequence of a physical game… As long as body contact is encouraged, and our game is played at a high rate of speed, then you're going to have some concussions."

On league discipline and the controversial decisions handed down by Colin Campbell, NHL vice-president and director of hockey operations:

"The acts that need to be addressed by supplemental discipline are like snowflakes. No two are alike. There are always some similarities, but the players' histories are different, the circumstances different, the nature of the incident different, the time of the game different. It's not susceptible to a template or a standardization where one size fits all."

On the overall health of the six Canadian franchises:

"Go back to the time period 1999 to 2001. There were tons of commentary, editorial articles suggesting there was only going to be one franchise [Toronto Maple Leafs]left in Canada. And that was something we could never allow happening. Canada is the heart and soul of this game, and this game is too important to Canada. If we couldn't be strong in Canada, we couldn't be strong anywhere. I knew that the first moment I took this job. I knew that (ital)before(end ital) I took this job. I knew the history and the traditions and the relationship between hockey and Canada. I mean, people can talk about baseball or football in the United States [but]that pales in comparison to the strength of hockey in Canada, and the importance of hockey in Canada. And so that's why we did the Canadian Assistance Program [also known as the Currency Equalization Program]to enable franchises to hang on. The Canadian franchises as a group have never been stronger."

On the possibility of the NHL returning to Quebec City, where a new rink is in the proposal stages:

"I think it's more a question of whether or not the whole package is there. We've told people that we're not in the position to promise a franchise. We're not considering expansion at this point, and we're not planning on relocation. So, as a result, we tell people 'Don't be building a building with any expectations.' However, if at some point there is interest in a team, it can't happen without a new building."

On the future possibility of one day returning to Quebec City, which the NHL left in 1995, and Winnipeg, which lost its team in 1996:

"It there is an appropriate building, and a solid ownership group in place, then I think it's incumbent upon us to give that some consideration - (ital)if(end ital) we're in the franchise business at that time, either through expansion or relocation."

On the possibility of further expansion perhaps bringing a second team to the Greater Toronto Area:

"Everybody tells me we shouldn't dilute the talent base. There are also a lot of people who tell me we have more than enough talent to expand. My guess is there will never be a meeting of the minds of everybody on that subject."

On the NHL decision to buy the struggling Phoenix Coyotes rather than allow relocation to Hamilton:

"We don't run out on markets. You only leave as an absolutely last resort. It will turn out all right, one way or the other. [The league's new deal]will close shortly and that will be the end of it, with a new owner and a future in Phoenix. But if it doesn't, we will have done everything humanly possible to make it work…. All sports are at risk if you can't determine who can be a partner and where your franchises are located, because those are the two most important decisions that any sports league has to make."

On the future of NHL involvement in the Olympics, which began in Nagano in 1998:

"Obviously something that we're going to have to discuss with the Players' Association…. We're going to have to take a good hard look. It's a balancing act. Obviously there are some benefits to going to the Olympics, and obviously there are some detriments. And the benefits and detriments are a function of where the Olympics are being played. Security concerns, particularly after recent events in Russia, are an issue."

On the now-annual NHL experiment with exhibition and early-season games in Europe:

"We like it, and we're going to continue to do them. We're going to look to expand our presence. We're not looking to expand our game there, but we are looking to take the game to a greater number of fans."

On the decision to part with ESPN and go with Versus as well as a separate deal with NBC for broadcast rights:

"We were coming out of the [2004-2005]lockout and ESPN was not offering at the time what we felt was needed. NBC stood with us. And Versus - at that time the Outdoor Life Network - was prepared to step up and make us their most important property. And while the deal over time has had critics, if you look back over the past five-and-a-half years I think people will conclude that it worked out very well for us… We have some work to do in terms of our next negotiations, but we think we're positioned well to move forward."

On criticism that the All-Star Game, to be played Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina, is a farce of a hockey game:

"It's (ital)entertainment(end ital). If people are looking to see regular-season or playoff hockey, they won't. It's a celebration of our sport. It is a gathering and a celebration of our stars."

On his one great regret in 18 years as commissioner of the NHL:

"I wish we didn't have to go through the lockout. We had no choice. And as a result of the things that were accomplished coming out of it, we're in a much stronger place than we were. But to have to have to have gone through that was extraordinarily painful for everybody associated with the game."

On his relationship with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a hockey historian and fan:

"I think one of the things we share is an acknowledgment of the importance of the game to Canada - and the importance of Canada to the game."

Follow on Twitter: @RoyMacG

 

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