NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined Sportsnet’s Ron MacLean for a brief interview during Monday’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The commish talked about officiating and the league’s Department of Player Safety.



Bettman defended the league’s officials, supporting their on-ice performance during the postseason.

“Every night’s a challenge for our referees because it’s a hard job.”

“They’re always the subject of criticism, observation, debate. A lot of it is partisan – i don’t mean by the media, I mean the fans obviously. When you look at it from here, it’s a little bit slower than when you’re down on the ice… it’s hard. Our guys do a very good job – better than they get credit for.”

“Are they perfect? No. But we strive for perfection. We have critiquing, coaching and accountability. We want to make sure our guys are doing the best possible job they can. By adding some technology, such as we’ve done with coach’s challenge and other video review, we’re getting it right virtually all the time, but not 100 percent of the time.”

When asked about the league’s response to the Tom Wilson incident with Artemi Panarin, Bettman called it a “question of supplemental discipline.”

“[Director of Player Safety] George Parros does a terrific job and he has tough judgment calls to make. He’s very consistent.”

Parros took over the NHL’s Department of Player Safety in 2017, with a promise to crack down on slashing and non-hockey infractions  As a player, the Princeton grad racked up 1,092 penalty minutes in 474 regular-season games with the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens. He was never fined or suspended.

Player Safety handed out 22 suspensions this season totaling 49 games and over $825,000 in forfeited salary, along with $222,573 in fines. Those totals exclude fines issued by Hockey Ops for diving and for comments made regarding officials, which amount to another $279,000 in fines.