NEW YORK -- With the NHL regular season ending this weekend, there are Stanley Cup Playoff berths to be clinched and not one first-round matchup has been determined.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who celebrated the end of the regular season by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, said the playoffs, which begin Wednesday, are always the most exciting part of the season.
"Our playoffs are incredible," Commissioner Bettman said. "There's nothing like our first round, nothing like the culmination of the Stanley Cup Final, and it will be as unpredictable as the matchups are today.
"We have the best competitive balance not only in our history but probably in all of sports. And that makes it fun, exciting and entertaining for our fans."
Commissioner Bettman, who rang the closing bell to start the NHL season in October, was joined on Wall Street by the Stanley Cup and New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic.
"Not only are there a lot of hockey fans at the New York Stock Exchange, it gives a fair amount of visibility to important points in our season, and it's fun to be able to bring the Stanley Cup here and be able to get that kind of recognition," Commissioner Bettman said.
Hamonic said he was as nervous to ring the bell as he was to block a slap shot.
"I didn't want to mess it up," he said. "That has got to be one of the cooler experiences of my life. Pretty thankful for the opportunity to do it; not a lot of people can say they did that, so, really cool and fun memorable experience."
Hamonic, who grew up in a small town in Manitoba, said he wasn't used to the fast-paced environment.
"Growing up on the farms, you never think you'll be part of closing down the stock exchange, and then you come walking in and they tell us this is where presidents have been sworn in and kind of showed us around," he said. "For me, I appreciate those things because it's so far out of my element that you can really appreciate what someone else does for a living. A pretty historic place. It's a day I'll never forget."