PHILADELPHIA – NHL Commissioner started off his post-game 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic press conference by surmising that "a rivalry outdoors is as good as one indoors" and "it's not every day that an event can actually equal or exceed the hype and buzz."
Both were effective points about what was arguably the most competitive of the five Winter Classic games. Here is an edited transcript of Bettman's question-and-answer session with the media.
Q. Your thoughts on Philadelphia and how they hosted.
Bettman: It was spectacular. We could not have asked for any more from the event. And I think the Alumni Game was a great appetizer to the main event today -- having 45,000 people in here on Saturday -- and just the entire reception in the city, the buzz throughout the city, and the crowd today was great.
This was just a terrific event for us, and we are grateful to everybody who was involved, particularly and including the City of Philadelphia.
Q. I know you said you don't know where you're going next, but is there …
Bettman: A short list?
Q. Do you feel the game needs to get out of the East?
Bettman: My guess is it will be played in a place we have not been before. So, therefore, in the U.S., you've eliminated five locations. You can play with the other 25, play with geography and understand that temperature is a factor (as evidenced by the fact that we moved two hours today, which I think worked out pretty well) -- and by the way, in that context, thank you to CBC, RDS and NBC for working so well with us, for covering the event so well, and for demonstrating the flexibility we needed to get this right.
Between last year and this year, we have learned a lot about how to move the event, how to make the calls and how to deal with meteorological reports and respond and I think the two-hour delay made for a better game. The answer is you can eliminate some of the warmer climates. We are not probably going to go back to where we have been.
So that's all you get from me today.
Q. Can a team petition the League to play a regular-season game without it being a Winter Classic?
Bettman: It's possible for them to petition, but under the circumstances, we are tightly controlling the number of outdoor games we have.
There has been considerable debate, both outside my office and within the League and from the clubs. There are a number of clubs who say, 'I want this, and even if I've hosted it, I don't want to wait 10 years to get it back. So let's do more and more and more.' Other people say this has become a special event, because it's special, it's unique and that's something that, over time, we'll probably continue to wrestle with. But I don't think we are going to change the format in the short term.
Q. You mentioned the 3 o'clock start time, is that something you might look towards as a more permanent time for future years?
Bettman: It depends. Good question. It depends on a whole host of factors -- not the least of which are the temperature or cloud cover. Actually, we had snow flurries – which was nice.
If it was cloudy and overcast, we might not have had to move it. Off of last year's experience, we had a better sense – and we learn each year, a new way to focus on what we have to deal with. Because part of what makes this game so special is, it is the ultimate reality show -- because not only is it a sporting event, where we are going to get an outcome that's unscripted; we have to deal with the elements.
Q. You've played some of the older ballparks; talk about this ballpark as a venue and the fact that you have an up-to-date venue to play in.
Bettman: This is a spectacular venue, and it's kind of modeled on the old-style baseball parks. So it has that kind of charm, but it had all of the modern amenities, as you all know, from the press box and the facilities.
This was a terrific place, we had 46,000 people in here and it felt intimate, even though it's two and a half times what we normally play in front of.
So this worked out extraordinarily well for us and it looked really nice dressed up as a hockey venue.