Bettman says he has no plans to step down

Updated: February 8, 2007, 2:47 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Gary Bettman says he isn't leaving his job as NHL commissioner anytime soon.

"I've watched with fascination some of the newspaper reports having me going on sabbatical shortly," Bettman said Wednesday night. "That isn't the case, wasn't the case.

"I think people were somehow under the impression my contract had a year to run and got fixated on that. Those stories were, to say the least, inaccurate."

Bettman's contract runs through the 2010-11 season. It runs parallel with the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and its players union that resolved the labor fight that cost the NHL its 2004-05 season.

There have been reports some owners are losing patience with Bettman. Some others are frustrated with the current U.S. broadcast contract with Versus, a cable network formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network, that is unknown to many people. Others are upset with the current unbalanced NHL schedule, which means some superstars don't play in certain markets for three years.

In a meeting with reporters, Bettman defended the NHL's contract with Versus and said the NHL will change when owners can agree on a solution that "makes sense to everybody," The Canadian Press reported.

The CP reported Bettman said he is confident that Versus can grow hockey in the U.S. over the long haul, noting that the network is now seen in 72 million households, up from 64 million.

"We knew that in the short term we would be giving up some distribution for better treatment. We like the treatment we are getting from Versus," Bettman said, according to the CP. "They are very NHL-focused in terms of the telecast. Their intermissions are about us, not about everything else that is going on in sports."

Bettman also said the competition committee has studied changing the points awarded for wins to three for a win in regulation, two for a win in overtime or a shootout, and one for an overtime or shootout loss, the CP reported.

"The view was based on the dynamics on the way the game is being played, the openness of the game, the predictability, the lead changes we are now seeing with a wide-open game, may disappear," he said, according to the CP. "We decided to see, over time, if another change was appropriate."

The Associated Press and The Canadian Press contributed to this story.