Gary Bettman On Vancouver Riots: “It’s really a shame that a city can be given this type of attention. It’s really regrettable.”June 17, 2011 – 5:45 am by Steven Cuce
It must have been a bittersweet moment for NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, after game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals having watched his sport go the distance on the biggest stage. The Boston Bruins were the first team to win three separate game seven’s in the postseason as they came back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Tim Thomas, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, was lights out for the Boston Bruins and may have had one of the best performances in NHL playoff history while Beantown tasted the Stanley Cup for the first time in 39 years.
On the other hand in an awkward moment during the post-game aftermath of game seven of the Stanely Cup Finals, Bettman was booed by the Vancouver fans during the presentation of the Stanley Cup trophy. The ensuing aftermath of game seven in Vancouver where riots broke out stemming from the game seven loss by the Canucks got ugly and absolutely embarrassing for the city fast. Despite all the negative press swirling around the Stanley Cup based on the riots in Vancouver, a tired Gary Bettman sounded very pleased with the ratings and outcome of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
Gary Bettman joined ESPN New York onThe Mike Lupica Show to discuss the Stanley Cup Finals being one of the best spectacles the NHL has ever had, Tim Thomas having one of the best performances in NHL playoff history, hockey being a sport where so many veteran players are excelling at older ages, being booed when awarding the Stanley Cup trophy to the Boston Bruins and the hit on Nathan Horton changing the whole series for the Boston Bruins in game three of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Despite what happen in Vancouver after the game was this not one of the best playoff spectacles the NHL had?
“Vancouver is one of the most truly magnificent cities in North America if not the world. The people in Vancouver are great. The hospitality is wonderful. There’s a small group of people who aren’t even hockey fans. My guess is the same thing would have happened even if they had won. It’s really a shame that a city which is marvelous and who’s people are so marvelous can be given this type of attention. It’s really regrettable.”
Have you ever see another goalie that has had a better run than Tim Thomas just had for the Boston Bruins?
“Actually I think in league records nobody has ever given up as few as eight goals in a seven game Stanley Cup Final. I think he stopped 201 out of 209 shots. I may be a little off. Actually when I gave him the Conn Smythe Trophy and he came up among the things I said to him…I said ‘You were simply awesome.’ He was. It was absolutely incredible, but you know what was even better? When you look at professional athletes and the attention they all get. He genuinely looked like he was having fun. That is really the way it should be.”
How does hockey set up so that there always seems to be drama where you have late players in their 30’s and some in their 40’s still excel at this sport? Mark Recchi being one of them? How do they last this long?
“Because we are probably the consummate team game. This is a game where everybody has to bring something to the party and everybody has to be their best and when you have All-Star caliber guys who have been with players in other places and they can show the leadership and the determination that is necessary to win the cup. People say and I believe it is true that the Stanley Cup journey is the hardest to complete. It is mentally and physically fatiguing, which is an understatement. You’ve got to ban together as a team and guys like that are guys who knows what it takes to bring everybody else together and make everybody terrific. Now I tell teams unless…no matter what you think the adversity is unless you’re prepared to go through walls, accomplish the tasks no matter what gets in your way, you can’t win. By the same token and I am tired, so I am jumping around, they got a 19 year old, Tyler Seguin, who’s also on this team as well. They actually bridged the generation, but that’s where everybody brings something different to the dance.”
Do you feel you are getting treated unfairly in Canada based on the last collective bargaining negotiations? Was it uncomfortable to be booed when awarding the Boston Bruins the Stanley Cup?
“I was getting booed? Really? Wait a minute when did that happen? I thought it was like ‘oooooo…oooooo,’ they were so excited to see the Stanley Cup. To answer that question would require me to engage in some degree of whining, which I will not do. The fact of the matter is people sometimes have perceptions to why things do and don’t happen. People who understand what exactly we have tried to accomplish and the fact that most of the Canadian franchises wouldn’t be in Canada anymore if were not for the things we’ve done over the last two decades. They get it. I know the people in Winnipeg over entirely different circumstances than when we left are thrilled to be getting a team back.”
How much do you think the hit on Nathan Horton by Aaron Rome changed the series for the Boston Bruins?
“I’m not in their locker room and I’m not privy to their conversations and what they’re saying to each other and what the coaches are saying, but Horton I think was third in scoring for the team at the time when he got knocked out certainly near the top if not third [in scoring]. I think it was an emotional moment for the team. In the final analysis when you play a seven game series the team that digs deepest and has the most skill is the one that wins most of the time.”