NASHVILLE, Tenn. — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged Saturday that the Islanders’ move to Brooklyn has been a work in progress, but he said he is pleased with how the transition has gone through the first half of the season.
“Obviously, Barclays is an upgrade to the Nassau Coliseum, and that’s probably an understatement,” he said at his All-Star news conference. “But people have had to adjust to going to a different place. Obviously, the building wasn’t designed for hockey. I think the people at Barclays have been doing a good job of adjusting.
“I think over time it’s only going to get better . . . in terms of the fan experience, and I’ve seen that as I’ve gone to games. The game presentation is getting better and the fans are getting more comfortable in what is a state- of-the-art arena compared to what they were in, which was not so good anymore.”
In other news, Bettman said the 2017 All-Star Game will be played in Los Angeles, that no decision has been made regarding the NHL participating in the 2018 Olympics and that the league continues to consider expansion to Las Vegas and/or Quebec City.
The league also donated $200,000 and Honda and Ticketmaster provided a retrofitted 2016 Odyssey to assist Denna Laing, the player who was badly injured in the inaugural Women’s Outdoor Classic.
Bettman addressed John Scott’s inclusion as an All-Star after what initially was a joke candidacy in fan voting. He said that while Coyotes and NHL officials did speak to Scott about whether he wanted to participate, once he decided to do so, “it was a closed issue from our standpoint. He was welcome to come and we welcomed him here.”
What about Scott’s assertion in The Players’ Tribune that an NHL official tried to bully him into not coming? “I’m not going to get into who said what,” Bettman said. “Those discussions are not really particularly relevant, because he made the decision to be here, and we’re all good with that.”