3:55 pm - In an interview recorded this afternoon, NHL commisioner Gary Bettman said Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead must pave the way for ground-breaking on the Coliseum property by next summer.
The interview is part of "NY Hockey This Week" with Don La Greca and I on 1050 ESPN Radio and will be played at approximately 6:00 pm tonight.
I asked the commisioner if, after spending plenty of time with Islanders owner Charles Wang at the Coliseum on Tuesday, he knew for sure the process to transform the arena property will begin in the offseason of 2009. Bettman could not guarantee that, but he made it clear it's a must. "It has to," he said.
In the interview, Bettman praised Wang twice for saving the Islanders and for having the "character" to focus on keeping the Islanders in Nassau County and not issuing threats. He said he was very supportive of the efforts of Wang and Scott Rechler to finalize a deal with Nassau and the Town of Hempstead and said he was available to them at all times to assist in their efforts to complete a deal.
"NY Hockey This Week" airs today from 5:30 - 6:30 pm.
Reader Notice: Several Commenters posted notes last night insisting that I hammer the NHL commissioner for perceived bias in the supplementary discipline of Islanders, Thomas Pock's 5-game suspension the most recent case. While I asked Bettman about his personal role in determining suspensions and for his take on hits to the head, I did not push the Colin Campbell issue.
There were several reasons why. There was not much time in a shared 15-minute interview, and my priority was the Lighthouse Project. I also prefer to focus on the subject with Campbell, whom Don and I hope to have on the show in the next few weeks. But the biggest reason to not push the subject happened last night.
The Islanders issued a press release with quotes from both Garth Snow and Pock wholeheartedly supporting the NHL's ruling. If the Islanders were okay with it, not much ammo to take to the commissioner, you know?
ETC: Excellent stuff from Greg Logan of Newsday at today's morning skate on the subject of Josh Bailey. Greg bets that Bailey will stick. I maintain that may be a good thing, but it's just way too easy for any of us to get giddy after one win, one assist and a solid 13 minutes. Let's review in a week, shall we?