Bettman not accustomed to this kind of welcome

GARY LOEWEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

Gary Bettman is a popular guy. Honest.

Well, at least he is on his native Long Island.

The NHL commissioner, taking a break from his campaign to keep the Coyotes in Arizona, appeared at a hearing yesterday to support a development project that would keep the Islanders from leaving Long Island.

Bettman was cheered loudly -- loudly! -- as he walked to the podium, NHL.com reports.

"Thank you to all the people that are here today ... it's not very often I get an ovation like that," Bettman said.

True, usually, the commish is about as popular as David Beckham at a soccer game in Los Angeles.

J.R.'s shot

Jeremy Roenick's colour and candour will be missed, but at age 39 it seems it's time for the veteran NHLer to retire.

The San Jose Sharks forward is expected to make it official tomorrow after 20 years and almost as many concussions.

Roenick once was asked during an interview if he could list the injuries he had suffered as a hockey player.

"No," Roenick said. "We only have 10 minutes."

Fore-wheeling

With Buick getting out of the business of sponsoring PGA Tour events, wouldn't the obvious replacement be the Volkswagen Golf?

Watch yer back

Despite having traded catcher Victor Martinez last Friday, the Cleveland Indians are going ahead with a promotion tomorrow afternoon at Progressive (that's right, Progressive) Field.

Fans under 14 will get free Victor Martinez Chest Protector Backpacks.

That's right, it looks like a chest protector, but you wear it on your back.

Who says the Indians do things backward?

Reefer Ricky

Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano figures Ricky Williams is in his best shape in years, thanks to a rigorous training program.

"I see the strength and I see all those positives that have come in the off-season," Sparano says.

In past years, the only times those "positives" have come out are in tests.

More Bettman

The NHL commissioner says the Islanders' future hinges on the Lighthouse Project, which would refurbish the team's arena.

"There's probably no worse major-league facility in North America than the Nassau Coliseum," Bettman said. "This facility must be replaced, because I have no doubt that the Islanders cannot and will not stay in this facility one second longer than they are legally bound to. The future of the Islanders on Long Island depends on this project going forward."

Bettman's "build it and they will come" philosophy makes some sense.

Perhaps -- based on the Glendale, Ariz., experience -- he has learned that it is just as important to "build it" where the fans are.


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