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  • I had a pretty good hockey Tuesday going.

  • The Caps got an overtime winner from, uh Rana and they're playing some great hockey.

  • But Wednesday's better.

  • The commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman, joins us on a massive day for our company, and we certainly hope for the league as well as we announced a new deal starting next fall.

  • And Gary, this has been talked about for a while.

  • We've been hoping, and now it's here.

  • How do we how do we get to this place?

  • I think Jimmy Petar Oh showed great energy and vision, and we decided that for a whole host of reasons that it made sense to be with the worldwide leader in sports again.

  • And we're thrilled to be back.

  • The excitement on both sides of this partnership is absolutely palpable.

  • We're thrilled to be with ESPN again, and we get the sense, as you just said, that ESPN is thrilled to have us back.

  • There's no doubt about that.

  • I think there are a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is just to be able to hear that great music again on our air, and I think about the spring and the Stanley Cup, and I'm gonna get to that in a minute.

  • But I got a great note from a capital player who I know.

  • And he said, The boys are so excited about this and it's self serving, I guess, to ask it.

  • But I just wonder, Gary, how much do you get The sense that reflects the feeling around the locker rooms and the organizations in the NHL that this marriage will be renewed?

  • We we know what ESPN is capable of, and in fact, this arrangement is ABC, ESPN, ESPN plus and Hula.

  • We've we've been, if you I guess the term is we're all in with the Walt Disney Company.

  • Uh, and and that's what made this so exciting.

  • But we've always respected and knowing the capabilities that ESPN has to promote and carry a sport, we took a little detour from each other for a while.

  • We both did.

  • Okay.

  • During that period, we've grown, our audience has grown, the game has grown.

  • But now this is a new media era, and the opportunity to do more than one packages presented itself and using this as an opportunity to come back to ESPN and and frankly, while ESPN has covered us over the years and we've had a presence from ESPN, the Stanley Cup final and and and other league events.

  • The fact is that we didn't get the same coverage that the other major sports that ESPN has got, and now we're going to get that coverage, and that's going to be great to continue the growth of our game.

  • Yeah, I think we've done okay apart, but we can do better together and it really is exciting.

  • And I say in particular thinking about the spring in the Stanley Cup and I grew up, I'm a basketball guy.

  • I can't even escape.

  • But anyone that's watched my show, Gary knows Every spring I say the same thing.

  • The Stanley Cup tournament is the greatest tournament in all of sports.

  • I truly believe that.

  • And as we look ahead to having it again in the spring and uh, no, no shock there.

  • But as we think about this spring and we're seeing things lifting, there's optimism around the country.

  • Uh, how optimistic ought we be that maybe there could be more people in buildings around the country and in Canada as well?

  • We're very optimistic that things are improving.

  • 11 of our teams, I believe, currently can now have some fans in the building.

  • Listen, Covid, 19, has been been an ordeal for everybody and not just in sports.

  • So the fact that we're focused on sports shouldn't minimize all the other pain and suffering and difficulties that everybody's experiencing.

  • But we came through the return to play and we had to bubbles and we went through 33,000 tests to conclude last season with no positives.

  • Right now, I think we're down to three players who have tested positive for covid or isolated under the protocol, and we're being flexible, were being agile.

  • We're doing everything possible to get through the season and get to the playoffs.

  • But But one of the things that that's crystal clear is I know our players miss the fans and the energy and our building and our game, mrs that energy as well.

  • So with vaccinations and getting covid under control, we're hoping to get our fans back in the building as soon as possible.

  • Yeah, they provide an energy and a soundtrack that is truly truly missed, and it isn't the same without it.

  • Even though I thought you all did a wonderful job, as did the NBA with the bubbles, as as the Lightning one last Well, I started to say spring but the spring and the summer, although they blend together in a way that makes it kind of hard to remember at all.

  • Um, the last thing Gary I'd love to ask you about is just you used the word.

  • You have to be flexible.

  • I think everyone has to be nimble and the schedule that you guys have come up with, I think it's created some fascinating things.

  • We've already seen the best of seven, right, but we had a best of seven already.

  • I wonder what you have kind of enjoyed and found most interesting about what this schedule has presented well, by playing purely within division, we've reduced travel dramatically, and that's given us flexibility to reschedule games that had to be postponed.

  • But all of this started because, as everybody knows, we have seven teams in Canada and you can't cross the border.

  • And so we had to do something different, and realignment was something was the only way we could actually deal with the travel restrictions.

  • I think the division rivalries have been great in a 56 game, uh, season in a full 82 game season.

  • I'm not sure it doesn't fatigue people, but we have learned to focus, maybe perhaps a little more on divisional play.

  • But we want to get back to the fact where all of our fans, at some point in the season, get to see all of our players Well, as we reach a year anniversary of the day that sports stopped, what a treat it is to be able to celebrate, looking forward together at seven years and hopefully many more as ESPN and the NHL together again.

  • Gary Bettman, commissioner of the league.

  • Thanks for your time and for the trust in us.

  • We hope we can be great partners for you.

  • I know you will be Scott.

  • Great to be with you, and I hope to see you in person at a playoff game right down the road.

  • Rock the red.

  • Let's go.

  • I'll see you here.

  • Thanks for watching ESPN on YouTube for live streaming sports and premium content.

I had a pretty good hockey Tuesday going.

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Gary Bettman is thrilled the NHL is back with ESPN | SportsCenter with SVP

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/13
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