Bettman: Heritage Classic not a concession to Canada

There’s been substantial suspicion that the NHL considers the
Heritage Classic an afterthought when compared to the New Year’s Day
Winter Classic
. It’s been eight seasons since the original
all-Canadian outdoor match-up was played, despite the strong desire of
both the fans and teams to stage a second game. The Canadiens proposed
playing the Rangers at Percival Molson Stadium in 2008-09 as part of the
100th Anniversary celebrations, but
the league turned them down
. Meanwhile, the Winter Classic, which
was modeled after the Heritage Classic, has become an annual event, and
one of the crown jewels on the regular season schedule.

That was
the thrust of an interview conducted by George

Johnson of The Calgary Herald this week with NHL commissioner Gary
Bettman. Johnson waded right in, telling Bettman “In some quarters, the
Heritage Classic is being portrayed as nothing
more or less than an appeasement to cranky Canadians — as the
underprivileged child hidden underneath the stairs in comparison to the
New Year’s Day Winter Classic.”

Bettman’s response was hardly measured. “That’s absurd. It’s
baseless,” he said. “It’s someone looking for something on a
slow news day, looking for something to write or say, to be critical for
no reason.”

It’s hardly no reason, however, when the Winter
Classic received a mighty promotional push from
the league, including the HBO “24/7” mini-series. By contrast, the major
promotional effort behind the Heritage Classic was a touring trailer
truck carrying the ice-making equipment that motored from Toronto to
Calgary, ignoring Montreal, making stops in four cities en route to show
off machinery.

apparently never occurred to the league that even having presentations
at the truck stops by a few
former NHLers on the sport’s heritage in Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg
Edmonton might have been a more appropriate and effective promotion.

Bettman did go on to explain that the purpose of the two games is
different. The Winter Classic is designed as a TV event for the US
market to help increase awareness of the NHL in the States on a day
traditionally set aside for watching sports on TV. The Heritage Classic,
by contrast is, he said, “good for our partners in Canada and most
importantly for our fans in
Canada to offer an outdoor game that everybody was telling me they
wanted, as well.”
The “good for our partners”
part is something NHL chief operating officer John Collins told Pierre
LeBrun for
a couple of weeks ago.  “Sponsorship on this
game is going to surpass even the Winter Classic to
give you a sense of the size of this thing,” Collins said. “And the
Winter Classic was a beast.”
Bettman also pointed out
the legitimate difficulties involved in pulling off three major events
— the Winter Classic, the All-Star Game and the Heritage Classic in s
short period of time. noting they were “very expensive events to put on,
very complicated to put on” and they create a “logistical nightmare”
for the league. So anyone that thinks we’re doing this, to use your
words ‘as a matter
of appeasement’ is wrong, because it’s hard to do.”
To Johnson’s question about why the Flames, who
also had previous requests to host an outdoor game rejected, were
approved for this one, Bettman replied, “What they were offering was
always outstanding. We just had to get
comfortable that we could do two of these in one season. Having created
the Winter Classic — and we already discussed the reasons for doing it —
we had to understand if two were possible….So, as to your question:
Why now? Blah, blah, blah, all the reasons
people speculate? Well, the answer is simply because we had to believe
we could do it.”
This is the first time two outdoor games are
on the NHL schedule, but Bettman would not commit to that going forward.
Johnson even wondered if two was overkill.
Bettman would only say that “We haven’t de-briefed from the
Winter Classic or the all-star game yet.
After the Heritage Classic, we’ll take a deep breath, study what we did
this year and what makes sense going forward….There are some people
advocating that we do a string of these games.
Would that be a good thing, even ignoring the feasibility for a moment?
As I said before, I think we need to take a deep breath after we finish
this cycle and figure out what makes sense.”


  1. fbkj says:


    which is why i want crosby traded to LA

  2. zedder81 says:

    Hamilton would sell out no problem. There are tons of companies in S. Ontario wanting a piece of NHL action to fill those luxury boxes. Hamilton would help Buffalo in that it would fill that arena an additioanal 3 times a year at premium ticket pricing.  No territory fees. The NHL admitted this in court with Basille.  The real advantage to Hamilton would be they could put it in the western coference in Detroit’s division. Giving Detroit one team in its division with the same time zone. As well, all of Hamilton’s away games would be in another time zone than Buffalo or Toronto, so there would not be TV crossovers on those nights because they would have later starts. The Laughs don’t want a team in Hamilton, but really it would have no effect on them or Buffalo.

  3. Danno says:

    Hey JB…

    Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.


    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  4. 25 cups says:

    This game isn’t promoted as heavily because it doesn’t need to be.  everybody already knew that this game would rival or overshadow the new years game in terms of sponsorship without any extra effort put in… so any additional hoopla the NHL put on would be kind of pointless…

  5. observer says:

    even atlanta can beat pathetic edmonton – up 2-0 right now. habs lost twice to that garbage team. but dont worry gauthier has a long resume of championships and mara now his received his special hockey stick.

  6. JohnBellyful says:

    Eyes on a player’s mask — thought that sounded familiar (from back in November):

    Submitted by JohnBellyful on Sun, 11/28/2010 – 09:57.

    MONTREAL – A six-game streak of alternating wins and losses is not a sign of a Montreal Canadiens team in trouble but part of a grand design to enter the playoffs on a roll, says coach Jacques Martin.
    “Lose-win-lose-win-lose-win – that’s what I asked the boys to do and they’ve come through with flying colours,” Martin told reporters following the team’s 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night.

    “Those games we have pencilled in as losses will allow us to experiment, and not have to worry about winning, which can be bit of a distraction,” Martin said.
    The experimenting would include sitting Scott Gomez, having Hal Gill wave his hands in front of the goaltender during power plays – “their goalie, our power plays,” Martin quickly clarified – and painting a huge eye on the fronts of players’ helmets to intimidate the opposition…

  7. Josh says:

    These outdoor games are highly overrated so I’m not sure what the big deal is.

  8. observer says:

    WHY ON EARTH would anyone believe a word Bettman says? I wouldn’t even interview him and give him the floor.

  9. MTLForever says:

    anyone have a link for the alumni game

  10. Price_Is_Right says:

    Check out Price’s MASK for the Heritage Classic…AWESOME!


  11. Pat Hickey says:

    It seemxs that if it was so important, the NHL would have siggested to USA Hockey that it was a bad idea to have Hockey Day in America on the same day.

  12. A. Berke says:

    Nice King Tut flair.

    Ali B.

  13. habstrinifan says:

    Not Hockey but Canadian Raonic has advanced to another final. This is exciting news for Canadian sports.

    Go Raonic Go!

    Who knows if Habs suck in the playoffs I may still have something to look forward to.. A Canadian winning Wimbledon.

  14. Danno says:

    Somebody had their eye on you JB! 😉


    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  15. JohnBellyful says:

    And all this time I thought it was paranoia.

  16. jimmy shaker says:
      OTT TOR
      2 LA NYI
      3 NJ CAR
      4 FLA TB
      5 ANA STL
      6 PHX NAS
      7 DAL VAN
      8 COL SJ
      9 WAS BUF
      10 PHI NYR
      11 DET MIN
      12 PIT CHI
      13 MTL CGY


    okay boys….playing proline tonight and thought i would ask your thoughts on the games tonight.  you tell me who you would pick.  here are my picks.


    any info on who i should change or why would be great, and if I win i’ll share the winnings with the fellow HIO supporters who helped me……and boilermakers for them too!



  17. derfab says:

    Time to put Bettman under the stairs. For this reason alone I support all of the nonsense about a Quebec arena. The sport is not growing down south and, because middle class tastes are fickle, equipment is expensive and kids can’t play it outside, it never will in any significant way.

    Bring it home and let the shrimp ruin basketball or curling or some other lousy sport.

    Vivre le hockey libre!

  18. Flabadagub says:

    The biggest load of BS about all this is that there’s no game tonight!!!!!

  19. JohnBellyful says:

    Gauthier might be tight-lipped about his behind-the-scenes deal-making but his assistant isn’t as secretive …

    MONTREAL – Larry Carrière emerged from hiding today to confirm reports he is scouting Western Conference teams for players who could help the Montreal Canadiens go deep in the playoffs.

    The team’s assistant general manager/player personnel admitted his assignment’s very specific nature is proving quite a challenge.

    “I’ve been told we need D-men,” Carrière said, “which is fine and dandy, but really limits your options. We already had Matt D’Agostini and traded him away, we’re never going to pry Pavel Datsyuk loose from Detroit, same goes for Drew Doughty in Los Angeles, J.P. Dupont was a recent healthy scratch by Nashville, and Shane Doan is getting long in the tooth.”

    Carrière told reporters the team had been close to reaching a deal with San Jose that would have seen defenceman Jason Demers, currently playing in the East Coast Hockey League, go to Montreal for a first and second round draft choice but the trade fell through when the Canadiens insisted the Sharks take Scott Gomez as well.

    Carrière lamented he’s also struggling with the other assignment general manager Pierre Gauthier has given him, to land a power forward.
    “I mean, guys, how many electrifying players are out there – Crosby, Ovechkin, Stamkos. They’re not going anywhere.”

    The assistant GM said he expects to have better luck getting a player with grin. 
    “Jason Spezza would seem to be an obvious choice and Ottawa’s unloading players these days,” Carrière said.

    When reporters pointed out that Gauthier might, in fact, be looking for players with grit, Carrière pulled out a fax, examined it closely and said the press conference was over.

    — “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.” —

  20. Sheldon says:

    The minute they lost the US television partnership with ESPN, the NHL was effectively done down here. Versus, the old Outdoor Living Network, you must be joking? Many fans have no access to that station. The scary thing is that the dude who ran ESPN programming at that time told Bettman that losing the NHL was no big deal and he could put poker in its place and get more viewers. And, he was right!!!

  21. _Habsoloutly_ says:

    most of your picks look ok, except I’d take Ottawa over the make beliefs.

  22. savethepuck says:

    are you betting every game on different tickest or playing the hockey pool?

    I’ve got Tor,NYI,NJ,Fla,ANA,Nash,Van,SJ, and tomorrow Buff, Phi, Det, Chi and Mtl

  23. savethepuck says:

    He has a serve over 145 mph, incredible, makes it hard to break his serve

  24. jimmy shaker says:

    i was struggling with that game too……anderson first game with ottawa, so i’m sure he wants to put on a good show, what happened to him anyway? eh?  but reimer has played solid for the leafs and there record vs ottawa is very good.  also, can ottawa keep on losing….so i’m back and fourth on this one.  But i’m siding on the leafs because this is a back to back for ottawa and reimer seems to be going good for the leafs.




  25. Hellfire_Habsfan says:

    Nash send to Hamilton per twitter

  26. fbkj says:

    Pants Buzzed

    nash sent down

  27. savethepuck says:

    So did the Wiz practice today? 

  28. fbkj says:


  29. jimmy shaker says:

    the pool….what’s your take with the ilanders over LA and buffalo over washington?  I’d love to take the boys over calgary tomorrow, but i’m just not feelin it!


  30. punkster says:

    H-P ain’t gonna be a happy little puck(er) tonight.


  31. Flobomb12 says:

    I wonder if anyone else gets the feeling that if PG does make a move it will be for another inconsistent and soft player like say Kristian Huselius or someone like that.  It just keeps creeping into my mind… sucks

  32. punkster says:

    Put on Live Evil, light up a fatty and chill. Always worked for me (back in the day of course).


  33. savethepuck says:

    I just think they are playing better of late.  LA not a strong road team either. Surprised u didn’t ask me why Fla over TB ( only because Ellis is starting and I think he sucks this year)

  34. skoalbandit says:

    Are the habs picking up Souray on re-entry today?

    someone has asked edmonton to palce him back on.

  35. SHUTTemDOWN says:

    He is a greedy dwarf….that part is true.

  36. observer says:

    i get the impression that since kovalev was acquired in 2004 thats 7 years ago and saying the molsons made them sign all those free agents 2 years ago as they were in process of buying the team that NEITHER AND BOTH gainey and gauthier have ever even tried to better this team in any years season going on.

  37. punkster says:

    Habs-Professor, our little Peter Puck avatar buddy, been around for a few years extolling the virtues of N.A.G., the NHL-Ref conspiracy and so forth and whatnot. Come on man, that additional “H” stand for hick? 😉


  38. SHUTTemDOWN says:

    Should be in response to the observer’s comment

    “The sh*t is CHESS!NOT CHECKERS.” Denzel W.(Training Day)

  39. jimmy shaker says:

    going with t-bay because of MAB and newly acquired brewer.  my gut says t-bay, but that might just be something else talking to me, anyhow, looks like it’s just you and I if we win tonight and tomorrow, good luck on your ticket.



  40. fbkj says:

    dont think ive ever interracted with him lol

  41. savethepuck says:

    Any word on lines with Cammy back at practice.  Is he with AK and Plex or Gomez and AK?

  42. savethepuck says:

    Hockey pools tough to win, any team can win on any given night. You just have to hope you pick the right dogs because it’s never all favorites.

  43. punkster says:

    Oh man, you’re missing so much in life then. Please do yourself a favour and check out Boone’s ALN Feb 16, starts about half way down the page. Just a small sample but the entertainment value is out of sight.


  44. punkster says:

    Lovin’ this. On CBC, Habs practice outdoors, Gill talking to PK and giving him tips, instructions, etc. Class is in PK.


  45. fbkj says:


    yeah i think ill avoid

  46. B says:

    I read that Edmonton does not have any deal in the works, they are just floating him out there in case there is any interest at this time when teams are starting to add and look for D-men.

  47. Chris says:

    How quickly some Canadian fans forget…

    In the 1990’s, it was some of those Canadian teams that were on life support.  Edmonton, Ottawa and Calgary were all have-nots that were relying on support from the league due to the disparity between the Canadian and American dollars.  An income tax was placed on visiting players by the Alberta government, taxing those players and giving the money directly to the Flames’ and Oilers’ owners.

    Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver do most of the heavy lifting in terms of revenue sharing from Canadian teams.  The Rangers have always been the big boy amongst the American teams.

    I don’t like teams in Miami, Phoenix or Atlanta.  Carolina, Anaheim and San Jose, on the other hand, are pretty solid franchises with good fan bases.  Nashville was a decent bet: a decent sized market with no other professional sports teams to compete against. Tampa Bay has been all over the map: when they are good, they are near the top of the league in attendance. When they are bad, their fan base shrivels to nothing. You have to try the markets first to see if they will fail or succeed.

    Winnipeg failed.  Quebec City failed.  They might get another shot again, as Minnesota did.  Quebec City needs an arena.  Winnipeg is a long-shot because they quite simply don’t have the revenue possibilities that the other teams in the league would have.  Winnipeg would be, by a significant margin, the smallest market in the league.  Whether they would be able to spend to the cap (and therefore be successful) or be just another drain on the system is the question that nobody can answer definitively.

    Hamilton might work, but I have my doubts.  They would be relying on a lot of southern Ontarians changing their team loyalty.  As the Senators have discovered in the Ottawa Valley, that is no mean feat:  18 years later, and the Senators are still struggling to win their own market over from the Leafs and Habs fans.  Hamilton would be relying on a lot of companies in London, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph and Toronto being willing to rent luxury suites on the knowledge that people would be driving at least an hour each way to get to the games.  That might not be the guaranteed eventuality that many seem to think it is.  Any team in Hamilton would have the further penalty of having to pay significant territory infringement fees to both the Leafs and the Sabres, making it even less likely that that market could support a profitable team.

    American markets often have the advantage of size, growth potential for the game and, most importantly, lower operating costs as arenas in the U.S. are often publicly funded and tax-free.

  48. fbkj says:

    you raise some interesting points but a lot has changed economically, for both the countries and the league

    so its not as cut and dry as most allude to on either side of the argument

    i remember the last year the nords were in operation, their payroll was $18 million and they failed… now obviously they didnt have quebeccor at the time, nor a building that could generate added revenue… but it is a concern no doubt…

    being said it would be nice if the league did offer salary structures that offset tax structures depending on the market, if they really want all teams to be on even more even footing

  49. fbkj says:

    once again you suck at life

    4-3 oilers

  50. Chris says:

    TSN’s “Why Not Canada?” was pretty balanced in its coverage of what Canadian markets could support an NHL team.  And there are lots of blogs, articles and commentaries representing both sides of more Canadian teams in the NHL.

    Like most Canadians, I would love to see more Canadian teams.  But without the tax breaks and public funds to subsidize those teams, I just don’t see any more markets that could legitimately compete right now.  And those public funds/subsidies are going to be a very, very tough sell in today’s financial environment, with an aging population likely leading to massive increases in health spending and a shrinking base of people footing the bills.  I somehow suspect professional sports subsidies are not going to receive a particularly sympathetic ear federally, and no minority government can afford to put in money when they are cutting spending in so many other areas to get the country out of deficit.

  51. fbkj says:

    “I somehow suspect professional sports subsidies are not going to receive a particularly sympathetic ear federally, and no minority government can afford to put in money when they are cutting spending in so many other areas to get the country out of deficit.”

    totally agreed but thats not what i said, if the nhl would allow teams to pay larger contracts to player to compensate for tax differences, this would only add more federal and provincial tax dollars so i dont see anyone having problems with that

  52. RGM says:

    You say “once again” as if it comes in stops and starts. :p

    Go Habs Go!

  53. fbkj says:

    true, its like a barge…. slow moving… never stopping…

  54. Stu Hackel says:

    An excellent point, Pat.

  55. Exit716 says:

    Yeah, that Canadian Assistance Plan was the salvation of the NHL in Canada. A whopping $18 million split over four years to four teams. Whoopee!!! Come chat with me when the Carolina Hurricanes aren’t including $35 million per year of revenue sharing out of their operating income of $65 million.


  56. Mr.Hazard says:

    The Winter Classic should be in Phoenix next year! Raise awareness! Oh wait… Nvm. How about in San Jose? Wait… Tamba Bay? No? Oh right. They don’t have winter there.

  57. zak says:

    so what exactly are you saying?

  58. Chris says:

    I was just going off on an aside… 🙂

    I would be highly surprised if they ever put in a scaled salary cap to accommodate taxation rates. It opens a slippery slope. How do you accommodate trades? A player that signed a deal with Edmonton (5% federal/provincial tax rate) gets dealt to Montreal (13.925% effective federal/provincial tax)…do they get their contract increased by almost 9% to accommodate the tax increase?

    It would be an interesting discussion for the league, though, and obviously the Habs stand to gain the most as the Quebec tax situation puts them about 5% above the next most heavily taxed market.

  59. fbkj says:

    thats more like it

    i know itll never happen but yeah… wouldnt it be neat 😛

  60. D Alcorn says:

    Yesterday, Gary Buttman climbed up to a podium and proceeded to issue ‘ non-threats ‘ to the franchise that put Gretzky, Messier, Coffey and many others on the hockey map.  A franchise that challenged the Habs for all-time dynasty status will leave town – not because of empty seats, not because of lack of fan knowledge, not because it is a stretch market.  

    No, this franchise will walk – ” guaranteed ” – because Mr Buttman doesn’t like their building as much as the hockey palace that he can’t get enough of down in Phoenix.  Can’t guarantee anything to Québec City, but he can guarantee that the Oilers will walk.  

    Buttman’s world of hockey is a weird place.  I’ll say it again : this elf might be good for the bottom line, but he is not a credible representative for the game on any other level.  Especially not in this country.  

    ALWAYS Habs – D Mex

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