Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NHL Commissioner Garry Bettman Feels Technology Can Make League Stronger

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NHL Commissioner Garry Bettman Feels Technology Can Make League Stronger

Article excerpt

Bettman feels technology can help grow NHL

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VANCOUVER - Gary Bettman feels the NHL has never been healthier or stronger, but the commissioner thinks the league needs to continue to evolve to keep up with young fans.

Bettman said a lot has changed since he took over the role 26 years ago.

"When I started on this journey in 1993, no team had a website, the iPhone was a dozen years from being on the market," he said during a question-and-answer session Friday before the NHL draft.

"What we had to do as a league was change, we had to embrace technology and we have to be responsive to what our younger fans want."

Some may balk at new ideas like puck and player tracking, eSports and expanding video review, but each has its place, Bettman said.

Technology can help officials make the right calls in an increasingly fast-paced game and help grow the NHL's audience, he added.

"We're not trying to force you to disrupt or consume sports differently," he said. "We want to use the opportunity of technology to bring younger people into the game as well."

The league also is growing its fan base by adding another team in Seattle, starting in the 2021-2022 season. While excitement about the new addition is high, the NHL isn't looking to expand any further, Bettman said.

Seattle's currently un-named franchise will be a "natural geographic rival" for the Vancouver Canucks, Bettman told the hometown crowd.

But hockey fans shouldn't be worried that the addition of a new team will dilute the league's talent pool because there are more talented players in the league today than ever before, he said.

"The players that are coming into the game now are bigger, faster, more skilled than we've ever seen in our history," Bettman said. "The game is being played by extraordinary players with extraordinary skill."

Maintaining competitive balance is important because it's what sets the NHL apart from other sporting leagues, the commissioner said. …

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