Skip to main content

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (right) chats with Hockey Night in Canada host George Stroumboulopoulos as they discuss the launch of the upcoming season at a meeting of The Canadian Club of Toronto in Toronto on Monday September 22, 2014.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Amid the NFL's domestic violence scandals, Gary Bettman says the NHL has been proactive about off-ice conduct.

Speaking at a luncheon for the Canadian Club of Toronto, the NHL commissioner did not specifically address football's problems but said hockey has tried to stay ahead of similar issues by educating players.

"We have had education and counselling programs for more than a decade," Bettman said. "Our security department does it with the players, and our behavioural health program counsellors do it with the players at least once if not more during the season. ...

"Obviously domestic violence has no place in the world, and we are proud of the conduct of our players on and off the ice."

Bettman added that sports can be a "vehicle for positive social change."

Asked by new Hockey Night in Canada host George Stroumboulopoulos about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Bettman says he "can relate to being a subject of media scrutiny." In a later interview, Bettman talked about how Goodell has handled the problems facing his league.

"I think he's working very hard in a difficult situation," Bettman said. "When you have one of these jobs, every now and then you get subjected to that kind of scrutiny."

Goodell has taken criticism for mishandling the suspension of now ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after video showed him punching his then-fiancee at an Atlantic City casino.

Meanwhile, Minnesota star running back Adrian Peterson faces a child abuse charge in Texas for using a wooden switch to spank his four-year-old son in May.

Bettman says in a highly visible job like his, any mistake is magnified.

"When you're in this position, you don't have the luxury of an off night," Bettman said. "If something happens, you have to deal with it, and you've got to do the best you can to get it right."

Bettman also addressed the topic of NHL expansion, reiterating the league was as healthy as it has ever been but not ready to go through any formal process to add teams. He threw cold water on Toronto as a possible location by saying that if, hypothetically, the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup, an expansion team wouldn't be able to get a foothold, even in the hockey-mad market.