Gary Bettman claims ‘nobody tanks’ in the NHL

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defended the league’s integrity on Tuesday when he refused to admit that teams tank for better odds in the draft lottery. (Getty Images)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made headlines during a media availability in Montreal on Tuesday prior to the Canadiens’ 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at the Bell Center, when he claimed that “nobody tanks” to improve their draft lottery odds.

Specifically, Bettman emphasized the fact that the draft lottery is a weighted system, reasoning that “you’re not going to lose games to increase your odds by a couple of percentage points.”

“And frankly, suggesting tanking, I believe, is inconsistent with the professionalism that our players and our coaches have,” the commissioner said. “Our players and our coaches do their best to win.”

Player agent Allan Walsh ranked among the many who scoffed at Bettman’s claims that “nobody tanks.”

At the moment, the teams with the highest odds of winning the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery (and thus, the chance to select Connor Bedard first overall) are, in order:

  1. Anaheim Ducks

  2. Columbus Blue Jackets

  3. Chicago Blackhawks

  4. Arizona Coyotes

  5. San Jose Sharks

  6. Vancouver Canucks

Most obviously, the Blackhawks and Coyotes are tanking to improve their lottery odds, and jumpstart rebuilds. You could argue that these two teams have been tanking the hardest for a player since the Tim Murray Buffalo Sabers angled for Connor McDavid (and ended up with Jack Eichel).

Bettman told reporters that the league’s investigation into sexual assault allegations made toward Canada’s 2018 World Junior team is nearing a conclusion.

“Doing an investigation of this nature, getting access to information and people, isn’t something that you can just snap your fingers and make happen,” Bettman said. “Obviously, we’re not the only ones conducting an investigation and apparently nobody’s done yet and so we want to bring it to its conclusion, but we’re just not there yet.”

As it usually does, the topic of expansion and relocation came up with Bettman speaking in the bowels of the Bell Centre, with the commissioner pointing out that Canadiens owner Geoff Molson supports the possibility of an expansion team in Quebec City.

Finally, Bettman hinted that the salary cap could climb sooner, but only if the escrow is fully paid off this year. NHL GMs would be wise to avoid any assumptions until the 2023-24 salary cap ceiling is set in stone.

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