NHL commissioner Gary Bettman went on Tampa's 620 AM WDAE Wednesday morning [click for audio]. Though the appearance wasn't meant to be entirely about the impending move of the Atlanta Thrashers -- Bettman discussed Tampa Bay Lightning ownership, NHL media, concussions and officiating -- he still commented on the team's predicament and made a pair of remarks that Thrashers fans will pick apart.
To a question on which Canadian towns may get a team once the Thrashers move to Winnipeg, Bettman replied, "I think you're being a tad presumptuous on what's going on in Atlanta. Nobody's announced anything, and until it's announced, nothing's going to happen until it's announced." Ommmmmm.
He said the league is in no hurry to populate Canada by relocating teams, saying, "We only move clubs when we typically find that we have no alternative."
Bettman was also asked whether the successful Lightning should be the model for Sun Belt NHL teams: "You get me a good owner, and a competitive, well-run team, [and a Southern team can be as successful as the Lightning]." He added, "Good management, good ownership; that's the key everywhere, and that's what you see with the Lightning."
The commissioner clearly gets it, whether he'd like to admit it or not.
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