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Canadian Press
2/7/2007 10:09:07 PM


VANCOUVER (CP) - Gary Bettman dismissed any speculation Wednesday he may leave, or be forced from, his job as NHL commissioner.

"I've watched with fascination some of the newspaper reports having me going on sabbatical shortly," Bettman said prior to the Vancouver Canucks playing the Chicago Blackhawks. "That isn't the case, wasn't the case.

"I think people were somehow under the impression my contract had a year to run and got fixated on that. Those stories were, to say the least, inaccurate."

Bettman said he "doesn't really keep track" of how long his current contract runs, but said "it sounds right" that it is for at least four more years.

There have been stories in some media outlets that the patience of certain owners is running thin with Bettman.

Some are frustrated with the current US TV contract with Versus, a cable network formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network, that is unknown to many people. Others are upset with the current unbalanced NHL schedule which means some superstars don't play in certain markets for three years.

Edmonton Oilers chairman Cal Nichols was vocal in his anger after the league voted down an attempt to change the schedule during the recent NHL all-star game in Dallas.

"I think we should be more concerned about the future of the game than specific interests," Nichols said at the time.

Bettman admitted not all the owners always support him.

"At any given time I am sure there are owners who may disagree with me on certain issues," he said "But overall I believe I have the support of the owners. I haven't heard to the contrary."

In a 40-minute meeting with reporters, Bettman defended the NHL's U.S. TV contract and said the schedule could be changed when a solution that "makes sense to everybody" is agreed upon.

One issue that could impact changing the schedule is whether the Penguins stay in Pittsburgh or are moved to another city.

"This issue if far from dead," he said. "We want to make the appropriate adjustments; we want to make our fans happy. We will over time get to that point. I just think people need to be a little bit patient."

The NHL switched from ESPN, which reaches millions of viewers, after the network offered the league less money and would not give the programming hours the league wanted.

Bettman remains confident Versus can grow hockey in the U.S. Already the network has increased from 64 million households to 72 million, he said.

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At least 4 years?! I hope it's not going to be a sad 4 years then. :(
 

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panoo via Canadian Press said:
Bettman admitted not all the owners always support him.

"At any given time I am sure there are owners who may disagree with me on certain issues," he said "But overall I believe I have the support of the owners. I haven't heard to the contrary."
The first part of this is the understatement of the century and the second part is a outright lie. Bettman knows the owners are stuck in a position where they can't go public and he's just flat out lucky that there aren't any Mark Cuban's in the NHL.
 
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