NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the All-Star Game on Saturday...

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the All-Star Game on Saturday in Sunrise, Fla. Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

SUNRISE, Fla. — It’s not an NHL issue.

James Dolan, who owns the Rangers, Knicks and Madison Square Garden, has been criticized for using facial recognition technology to bar certain ticket-holders from the facility who are in business or legal battles with Dolan’s companies.

Before Saturday’s NHL All-Star Game at FLA Live Arena, Newsday asked NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly for their reaction.

“It really is a franchise issue,” Daly said after Bettman deferred to him. “If what was being done there offended some kind of league policy or some law, it might be a different issue. But as far as we know, it doesn’t. So at this stage it’s not anything that concerns us.”

Rangers defended

Bettman took issue with the characterization that the Rangers or the NHL are accepting of bigotry after the team veered from its original plan to wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys for its annual Pride Night at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 27.

“Actually, the Rangers, as an organization, didn’t opt out of Pride Night,” Bettman said. “They activated across the board. Other than a couple of players not wearing the Pride jersey, we had a very significant Pride Night presence.

“We have to respect some individual choices, and some people are more comfortable embracing themselves in causes than others. Part of being diverse and welcoming is understanding those differences.”

Input welcomed

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby stated his dislike of the NHL’s current playoff bracket system — which forces the second- and third-place finishers in each division to face each other in the first round — and said he preferred the previous model of seeding each conference from one through eight.

“There is a competition committee and we have discussions about the game all the time,” said Bettman, adding that going back to the former format also would force changes to how the regular-season schedule is formatted.

Bettman said input from the NHL Players’ Association is welcome.

“The last time we polled the general managers, which was two years ago, two-thirds of them favored keeping the playoff system the way it is,” Daly said. “This is not some burning issue.”

Torrey to be inducted

Islanders Hockey Hall of Fame general manager Bill Torrey, later also the Panthers’ GM, will be inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame during that league’s All-Star Weekend on Sunday and Monday in Laval, Quebec. Torrey’s family will be in town to accept the honor.

Bridgeport defenseman Samuel Bolduc, who was supposed to participate in the event, was replaced on the Atlantic Division roster, likely indicating he will be recalled by the Islanders.

Slap shots

Bettman announced that next season’s All-Star Weekend will be held in Toronto on Feb. 2-3, 2024 . . . The Atlantic Division defeated the Central, 7-5, to win the All-Star title and $1 million. The Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk (four goals, seven assists) was the MVP . . . Bettman estimated NHL revenues will rise to $6 billion this season, but Daly added the salary cap still is projected to rise by just $1 million next season to $83.5 million.


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