Bettman happy with headshot rule

BRUCE GARRIOCH, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 PM ET

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the initiative taken by the league to suspend players for blindside and lateral hits should work as a deterrent for the rest of the season.

Bettman admitted he wasn’t happy to see Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke get away with hitting Boston’s Marc Savard without being suspended.

“The fact that we now have a rule to cover that hit tells you why it couldn’t be punished,” Bettman said prior to Friday’s Senators-Sabres game at HSBC Arena. “I hated that hit, as I think other people did. But that was the hole in the rules that had to be addressed.

“And, if any benefit came from it — and I’m not suggesting there was — it focused people on exactly what needed to be done.”

Bettman spoke on a wide variety of topics:

n Bettman said he expects the $56.7-million US salary cap to remain the same next year or fall slightly.

Many believe the cap was going to fall significantly.

“Coming off four years of record revenues, and we were up last year despite the recession, I think we’re either going to be flat or one or two percent either way. I don’t think you will see a dramatic difference either way,” said Bettman.

n There was a school of thought the cap might fall because of the cash the league is pouring into the Phoenix Coyotes while a new owner is found.

Bettman said he expects that situation will be dealt with soon.

While the league has an agreement in principle to sell the Coyotes to Ice Edge Holdings Inc., that group isn’t willing to buy, unless it can close a lease agreement with the city of Glendale. Bettman admitted there are still a couple of groups involved.

“It’s terrific to see the performance of the team and the response in the community,” said Bettman. “But we remain committed to working through a process to identify local ownership to sell the franchise. There are at least a couple of groups that are continuing to work through the process. I’m hopeful that we will get to the right place.

“For people in Buffalo, and Ottawa, you understand how we approach these things. When there are problems, we don’t run out on them. We try and address them. Both Ottawa and Buffalo are examples of situations where teams have been through a tough time and have come out the other side stable, strong and successful.”

Booth sent home: Panthers LW David Booth’s season is likely over he got his second concussion of the season, catching a Jaroslav Spacek elbow to the face on Thursday in Montreal. Booth missed 45 games earlier this year after getting hit by Mike Richards of Philadelphia on Oct. 24. “I’m not going to say Booth is done for the season, but he very well might be,’’ Florida coach Peter DeBoer said Friday. “But the next step is to get him to Florida, get evaluated and we’ll know more. I’m very concerned about it. Where we are in the standings, you have to weigh whether the risk makes sense. But the doctors will make that decision for us.”

THIS ’N’ THAT: Florida called up F Steve MacIntyre from their AHL affiliate in Rochester ... The Panthers practised Friday at Carleton. DeBoer is close friends with Ravens coach Fred Parker ... The Senators are 34-26-3 vs. Florida.

INJURIES: Panthers — Booth (concussion), out; C Greg Campbell (foot), season; Senators — RW Alexei Kovalev (lower body), may play; D Filip Kuba (lower body), out; LW Milan Michalek (knee), out.


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