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Gary Bettman talks NHL relocation, outdoor games

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't think six outdoor games will water down the spectacle for...

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't think six outdoor games will water down the spectacle for fans. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:50 PM ET

In a mini State of the League address, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman offered the latest this week on relocation and outdoor games.

As reported by website L.A. Kings Insider, Bettman was asked about increased interest in Seattle to land an NHL team and the possibility of NHLers once again skating in Quebec City.

“It’s great to know that there’s lots of interest in having teams in places where there aren’t,” Bettman said. “But as we stand here today, it’s nothing we’re pursuing right now in any sort of organized way. We listened to the expressions of interest, and they’re gratifying. But that’s all it is right now.”

That interest includes a potential NHL-calibre arena in Markham, north of Toronto, where an ownership group last week released plans detailing funding for a new venue.

The NHL’s top boss was also asked about the league scheduling six outdoor games this season, and if the plethora of stadium dates waters down what used to be a marquee event.

“No, because first of all, it’s six games out of 1,230 regular season games,” Bettman said. “Two, when you go to one of these games, if you haven’t been to one and you see what’s here, the reaction of the fans, the intensity, the emotion, the excitement is off the charts, and what we’re hearing from our fans and from our clubs and from the markets in which we play is they can’t get enough of these.”

VOKOUN ALMOST DIED

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tomas Voukoun says he nearly died.

The 37-year-old Czech netminder talked with Czech website iDNES.cz about his recent blood clotting issues that saw him rushed to hospital last weekend.

“I was lucky I was sent to hospital so quickly,” Vokou told the Czech publication. “I nearly died during weekend. My foot was swollen, I had blood clots from mid-thigh almost to the heart.

“I was thinking about the end of my career. It would not be so difficult decision. Now I will do what doctors say. Health is clearly the main thing. I hope I have more than half of life ahead of me.”

The Penguins announced Vokoun, who sits behind Marc-Andre Fleury on the depth chart, will be out indefinetly.

The Pens also announced this week they’ve signed goalie Jeff Deslauriers to an AHL tryout deal.

PANTHERS SALE APPROVED

The NHL's Board of Governors approved the sale of the Florida Panthers to Vincent Viola and Doug Cifu, the league announced Friday.

Multiple media outlets reported Thursday that Sunrise Sports & Entertainment sold the team for between $240-250 million, and includes operation of BB&T Center.

It does not include 90 acres of land surrounding the arena owned by SS&E, according to Forbes. The Panthers' lease with the BB&T Center runs through 2028.

A group headed by general partner Cliff Viner paid $200 million for the Panthers in 2009. Before that, Viner was a minority owner for seven years.

Wayne Huizenga, who bought the expansion team for $50 million in 1992, is still a minority investor. It is not clear if he will continue to own part of the team.

BRIEFLY: The Minnesota Wild released centre David Steckel from his professional tryout agreement … Former Florida Panthers goalie Jose Theodore has signed a one-year deal with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk … The St. Louis Blues released veteran defenceman Ryan Whitney from his tryout … Detroit Red Wings defenceman Danny DeKeyser will rest his injured knee for the rest of pre-season but told the Detroit Free Press he’s confident he’ll be ready ahead of next week’s season opener.


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