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Despite denials, NHL officials discussed links between fighting, concussions in 2011 emails 03.29.16 at 8:58 am ET
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Gary Bettman

Gary Bettman

In a 2011 email exchange recently unsealed in court, several NHL officials discussed a connection between fighting and concussions. The messages were sent in a group that included league commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly and former head of player safety Brendan Shanahan.

The findings are in direct conflict with statements made by the league during an ongoing lawsuit filed by several ex-NHL players. Following the death of three players in 2011 which were all attributed to health issues, league officials discussed the state of fighting in hockey.

“An interesting question is whether being an NHL fighter does this to you (I don’t believe so) or whether a certain type of person (who wouldn’t otherwise be skilled enough to be an NHL player) gravitates to this job (I believe more likely),” Bettman wrote.

“I tend to think its a little bit of both,” Daly wrote back. “Fighting raises the incidence of head injuries/concussions, which raises the incidence of depression onset, which raises the incidence of personal tragedies.”

What these league officials acknowledged in private, they never have admitted publicly. These recent findings certainly are not a good look for the NHL as it faces a very serious lawsuit.

“I believe the fighting and possible concussions could aggravate a condition,” Bettman wrote. “But if you think about the tragedies there were probably certain predispositions.”

One former NHL player, Derek Boogaard, died after overdosing on prescription pain killers he was given by team doctors and medical staff. His family is fighting the NHL in a wrongful death suit. Some of the messages revealed in these documents comment on the use of such pills.

“This is not the same role as it was in the ’80s and ’90s,” Shanahan wrote. “Fighters used to aspire to become regular players. Train and practice to move from 4th line to 3rd. Now they train and practice becoming more fearsome fighters. They used to take alcohol and cocaine to cope. (Kordic) Now they take pills. Pills to sleep. Pills to wake up. Pills to ease the pain. Pills to amp up. Getting them online.”

The class-action lawsuit against the NHL is ongoing at the United States District Court in Minneapolis.

Read More: Derek Boogaard, Gary Bettman, NHL,
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: National women’s group calls for companies to suspend relationship with Peyton Manning 02.18.16 at 7:55 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NHL: Bruins at Predators, 8 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Red Wings at Penguins, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Bulls at Cavaliers, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Spurs at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: SMU at UConn, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Charleston Southern at Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Missouri State at Wichita State, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Maryland at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Belmont at Eastern Kentucky, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Wisconsin at Michigan State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Cincinnati at Tulsa, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Utah at UCLA, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: California at Washington, 11 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: BYU at San Diego, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)


Peyton Manning continues to remain quiet about his alleged sexual assault and defamatory comments about his accuser, but his critics are getting louder.

A national women’s rights group on Wednesday called for companies to halt their dealings with the Broncos quarterback until more details are known about what happened.

“Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza must show their customers that they will never stand for sexual violence — and suspend their relationships with Manning pending further investigation,” UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary said in a statement.

UltraViolet, which previously called for commissioner Roger Goodell to step down after his initial ruling on the Ray Rice domestic violence incident in 2014, said the league should sideline Manning.

“While it is outrageous that the University of Tennessee chose to turn a blind eye to sexual violence by student athletes like Manning, it would be flat-out unacceptable for the NFL and major companies like Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza to continue to stand with Manning in light of emerging evidence,” Chaudhary said in the statement. “The NFL should thoroughly investigate this incident before allowing Manning to play or work in [the] NFL again.”

— Boxer/politician Manny Pacquiao apologized for his comments criticizing gay people as “worse than animals,” but it wasn’t enough to stop him from losing his endorsement deal with Nike.

The company announced Wednesday that it found Pacquiao’s comments “abhorrent” and no longer would do business with him.

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Read More: Bob Arum, Dennis Wideman, Donald Trump, Gary Bettman
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: NHL takes next step toward expansion, with Las Vegas appearing likely to land team 06.25.15 at 8:15 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Orioles at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Dodgers at Cubs, 2 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Yankees at Astros, 8:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Draft, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Golf: PGA Travelers Championship, 3:30 p.m. (TGC)


Gary Bettman

Gary Bettman

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday that the league is beginning a formal expansion review process, adding to speculation that Las Vegas soon will land a team. Seattle and Quebec City also have expressed interest.

The Board of Governors met in Las Vegas before Wednesday night’s NHL Awards show in the city and said the league will take applications for new franchises starting July 6, with a deadline of Aug. 10. Bettman said prospective owners will have to be able to fork over an expansion fee of at least $500 million. He did not indicated how many clubs might be added — if any.

“The fact we are going through this process doesn’t mean we are going to expand,” Bettman told reporters. “All it means is we’re going to stop just listening to expressions of interest and take a good, hard look at what they actually mean and represent.”

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league isn’t likely to expand before the 2017-18 season.

Prospective Vegas owner Bill Foley already has more than 13,200 season-ticket deposits and has started construction of a multipurpose arena near the Las Vegas Strip.

“We’re going to take a deep dive and look at what there is in terms of the interest that’s being expressed,” Bettman said. “Obviously, Bill Foley got a great response to his season-ticket drive.”

— Following rumors that the Broncos were looking to move Peyton Manning this season comes a report that the team only was looking for him to agree to cut his salary for next season.

Mike Klis of Denver’s 9 News tweeted that the team was “never letting Peyton Manning go,” but it did ask for a $10 million reduction in pay.

Manning eventually agreed to a new deal that makes his 2014-15 salary $4 million less.

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Read More: Gary Bettman, Peyton Manning,
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Daisuke Matsuzaka returns to rotation (temporarily) for Mets 06.04.14 at 8:01 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Indians, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mariners at Braves, noon (MLB Network)
MLB: Athletics at Yankees, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
MLB: Mets at Cubs, 8 p.m. (WGN)
Stanley Cup finals: Rangers at Kings, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Tennis: French Open, 8 a.m. (ESPN2), 1 p.m. (Tennis Channel)


— Former Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka has become a jack of all trades for the Mets, and on Wednesday he’ll return to his roots when he starts against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Matsuzaka is expected to make at least two starts while teammate Dillon Gee is on the disabled list with a strained lat. The Japanese right-hander has been serving as a reliever since being called up from Triple-A on April 16 — including a stint as a closer — and made one start on May 25, picking up a win after allowing two runs over six innings against the Diamondbacks. In 17 appearances, he’s 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA.

“He’s saved us in a lot of ways,” manager Terry Collins said (via the New York Post). “He’s pitched in every role you have asked him to pitch. He’s pitched in the middle, he’s saved a game, he’s set up and he’s started.”

While the Mets continue to struggle along at 28-30 and in fourth place in the National League East, Matsuzaka has been a rare bright spot, establishing a reputation as a team player in New York.

“He and [Carlos] Torres have become valuable utility guys,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said. “They have no complaints, they are wonderful people and do whatever is asked of them.”

Dan Marino is withdrawing from a concussion lawsuit filed against the NFL, saying he suffers no effects from head injuries and that he did not intend to be included as a plaintiff.

“Within the last year I authorized a claim to be filed on my behalf, just in case I needed future medical coverage to protect me and my family in the event I later suffered from the effects of head trauma,” Marino said in a statement Tuesday. “I did not realize I would be automatically listed as a plaintiff. … I have made the decision it is not necessary for me to be part of any claims or this lawsuit, and therefore I am withdrawing as a plaintiff.”

Marino, 52, was one of 15 players included in the suit filed last week in federal court in Philadelphia. Almost 5,000 other players already have accused the league is misleading players and mishandling head injuries.

“I am sympathetic to other players who are seeking relief who may have suffered head injuries,” Marino said.

Marino recently was let go by CBS after working as an analyst from 2002-13. He has talked to the Dolphins — for whom he played his entire 17-year career — about the possibility of joining their front office. It’s been speculated that he might have withdrawn his name from the lawsuit because it could hurt his chances of landing a job in Miami.

— Rangers forward Dan Carcillo had his suspension reduced from 10 games to six by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, allowing him to return to action for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Kings.

Carcillo was suspended for elbowing linesman Scott Driscoll in the head while trying to get at Canadiens winger Brandon Prust.

“I respect the league’s decision,” Carcillo said Tuesday. “Gary called me this morning and dropped [the suspension] a category down, which is what I felt should have happened. The bottom line is, it was an emotional time in the game and I’€™m an emotional player. Sometimes you cross that line. Obviously — whether it was an accident or not — you can’€™t hit an official. I know I was wrong and I apologized and owned up to my part of it. Like I said before, I respect the league’€™s decision.”

Bettman took into consideration the fact that Carcillo apologized to Driscoll immediately after being told he hit the linesman, and there was no history of problems between the two. The commissioner also said he considered the importance of these games.

“While there is no precise formula that places a ‘premium’ on playoff games, I note that the length of the suspension here might well have been longer had it involved regular-season games,” Bettman wrote in a statement.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On June 4, 1976, the Celtics outlasted the Suns in triple overtime, 128-126, in Game 5 of the NBA finals. Who led the C’s with 33 points?

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Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dan Carcillo, Dan Marino, Gary Bettman
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross plans to meet with Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito so team can ‘move forward’ 11.12.13 at 8:05 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NHL: Coyotes at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: Buffalo at Toledo, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Hartford at Florida Gulf Coast, 7 a.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Quinnipiac at La Salle, 9 a.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: LSU at UMass, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: West Virginia at Virginia Tech, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: South Carolina at Baylor, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: N.C. State at Cincinnati, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: LIU-Brooklyn at Indiana, 6 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: VCU at Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Grambling at Marquette, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Michigan State vs. Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Ohio at Ohio State, 8 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Florida at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Tennessee at Xavier, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Kansas vs. Duke, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)


‘€¢ Dolphins owner Stephen Ross weighed in publicly in on his team’s bullying scandal, and he said he plans to meet with Jonathan Martin on Wednesday after exchanging text messages with the second-year offensive lineman who left the team to seek treatment following alleged harassment by Richie Incognito and other teammates.

“I look forward to that meeting,” Ross said. “I think that can help us move forward. I’d like to hear from him what had happened, why he felt that way and what we did and what we could have done to prevent something like this from happening. I want to hear the circumstances, the facts.”

Ross also said he would meet with Incognito, insisting, “He deserves to be heard.”

Ross spoke before Monday night’s game, a loss to the previously winless Buccaneers. He did not address an ESPN report that Martin is not likely to return to the NFL this season and feels he can’t play for the Dolphins ever again.

“It couldn’t have been a worse nightmare,” Ross said of the situation, adding that he’s formed an advisory group that includes former coaches Tony Dungy and Don Shula, and former players Dan Marino, Jason Taylor and Curtis Martin.

“We need to look at ourselves. We have to examine everything internally,” said Ross, who expressed confidence in coach Joe Philbin but did not voice support for general manager Jeff Ireland. “This is so appalling to me. I know I’m capable of overreacting. I want to get everybody’s feedback because we all know the football locker room is a different workplace than most of us are accustomed to. I don’t want to make any excuses.”

‘€¢ NHL commissioner Gary Bettman walked a fine line when discussing fighting in hockey and indicated he does not believe there is enough support among league executives to change the rules at this time.

“If somebody wants to change it, there needs to be a new consensus,” he said Monday. “That’s why the discussion’s ongoing. Having said that, it continues to evolve as the game does. Four years ago, a shoulder hit to the head was not penalized. Now it’ll get you suspended. We’re going to continue to look at what we can do to keep the game physical but safe as possible.”

One of the incidents that sparked the current debate was Flyers goalie Ray Emery beating on Capitals counterpart Braden Holtby, who was an unwilling participant. Bettman said he talked to Emery and asked him if he would have done the same thing if there was a rule that a goalie who crosses the red line to fight with another goalie would get a 10-game suspension.

Said Bettman of Emery’s response: “He goes, ‘What? Are you crazy?’ ”

NHL general managers will discuss possible rule changes Tuesday at their annual meeting, and that’s believed to be one topic of discussion.

“I think the level of dialogue gets sparked by an occasional incident, and an incident of this nature when you look at everything else that is going on in the season was really a small pebble relative to a beach full of sand, which is seeing an incredibly entertaining season,” Bettman said. “I think sometimes an incident, as rare as it might be, tends to get focused on disproportionately.”

‘€¢ Montreal Mayor-elect Denis Coderre got his relationship with the Canadiens off to a bad start.

Coderre, who was elected Nov. 3, tweeted during Sunday’s win over the Islanders: Hello? Can we get a one-way ticket to Hamilton for David Desharnais please’€¦

The team did not appreciate the public criticism of the struggling forward, with forward Max Pacioretty calling the comment embarrassing.

Added coach Michel Therien: “I really believe this is inappropriate from our mayor.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Nov. 12, 1942, which Bruin became the youngest player in NHL history when he took to the ice one month before his 17th birthday for a 3-1 loss in Toronto? Hint: He later coached the B’€™s.

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Read More: Denis Coderre, Gary Bettman, Jonathan Martin, Ray Emery
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Linebacker Bart Scott tries, fails to organize Jets’ media boycott 11.19.12 at 7:56 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NFL: Bears at 49ers, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Magic at Hawks, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Marquette vs. Butler, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Indiana vs. Georgia, 5:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: North Carolina vs. Mississippi State, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Texas A&M vs. St. Louis, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: UCLA vs. Georgetown, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Texas at Chaminade, 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Kasas vs. Washington State, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: USC vs. Illinois, midnight (ESPN2)


‘™¦ Just when you thought it might be quiet in the Jets locker room following Sunday’s win over the Rams that ended a three-game losing streak, linebacker Bart Scott provided the controversy this team seems unable to avoid. Scott, unhappy about unnamed players criticizing backup quarterback Tim Tebow in a New York Daily News story last week, ordered his fellow defensive players to say nothing but, “Both teams played hard — anonymously,” to reporters.

Scott’s influence apparently isn’t as strong as he thought, as at least two players — safety Yeremiah Bell and linebacker Bryan Thomas — ignored Scott’s instructions. Scott yelled at Thomas, calling him “a [expletive] sellout.” Interjected Bell: “Stop it. Just stop.”

Scott then relented and spoke “calmly and openly to the media,” according to the New York Post.

‘™¦ Andrew Bynum, who has yet to play for the 76ers since being acquired from the Lakers in the offseason because of a bone bruise in his right knee, said Sunday that he injured his other knee bowling last Saturday night.

Bynum said the left knee swelled after the bowling, and on Tuesday an MRI revealed damaged cartilage.

“I didn’t twist it or fall or nothing,” Bynum said before his team played the Cavaliers. “It kind of broke off cartilage and it made the bone bruise bigger. Obviously [how] is the question, it’s relatively nothing, it’s three steps [and roll]. That’s the most important thing and why everyone is being so cautious. I can’t answer and [doctors] can’t now either, we’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Added Bynum: “Obviously in hindsight you shouldn’t go bowling, but it’s not more than anything I’ve done in my rehab.”

‘™¦ Red Wings defenseman Ian White is the latest player to check in with some negative comments about NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and his might be the harshest.

“I’ve got to be honest: I personally think he’s an idiot,” White said. “Since he’s come in, I think he’s done nothing but damage the game.”

This is the NHL’s third lockout during Bettman’s tenure. The last one forced the cancellation of the 2004-05 season.

“If you think of all the moves he’s made, teams that are all struggling seem to be the teams that he put in places where there’s not viable markets for hockey,” White added. “Three work stoppages — I don’t know if he’s in control of the owners or what he’s saying, but I think it’s only seven of the owners that have to agree on something to have something pass. You’d think it’d be at least 50 percent. It just doesn’t seem like they’re running a democratic process, if you will.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Nov. 19, 2000, who became the Patriots’ all-time leader in games played when he started his 207th career game?

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Read More: Andrew Bynum, Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, Gary Bettman
Coyotes forward Raffi Torres’ suspension reduced 07.02.12 at 4:31 pm ET
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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reduced Raffi Torres‘ suspension by four games. The decision was announced Monday. Bettman heard Torres’ appeal on May 17.

Torres will now serve a 21-game suspension stemming from a late hit to the head of Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa in the first round of the playoffs.

The 30-year-old already served 13 games of the suspension in the playoffs, so he will have to miss eight games at the start of the 2012-13 season. He will retain more than $680,000 of potential lost pay.

Torres has been suspended twice before. When he appealed the suspension it was concerning the amount of games and not the fact he was suspended.

Read More: Gary Bettman, Raffi Torres, Rumor Mill,
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Golf fan arrested after throwing hot dog at Tiger Woods 10.10.11 at 7:31 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NHL: Avalanche at Bruins, 1 p.m. (NESN)


‘™¦ A 31-year-old man was arrested Sunday after running toward the seventh green at CordeValle golf course in San Martin, Calif., and throwing a hot dog in the direction of Tiger Woods during the final round of the Open. “I was kind of focusing on my putt when he started yelling,” said Woods, who finished in a tie for 30th. “Next thing I know, he laid on the ground and looked like he wanted to be arrested, really, because he laid on the ground, put his hands behind his back and turned his head.”

The man told police he wasn’t throwing the hot dog at Woods, even though he called Woods’ name before tossing it in the air. “He was very cooperative,” Sgt. Jose Cardoza said. “They said, ‘Why did you do this?’ He just shook his head in guilt or remorse. He didn’t give a reason why he did it.”

‘™¦ Gary Bettman, who was booed by Vancouver fans when he awarded the Stanley Cup to the Bruins in June, was cheered in Winnipeg Sunday as the new Jets played their first regular-season home game, 15 years after the previous version of the team departed for Phoenix. “A great day for the city of Winnipeg, the province of Manitboa, the entire country of Canada,” Bettman said.

‘™¦ Brad Pitt has a hit with his portrayal of A’s general manager Billy Beane in “Moneyball,” and now Clint Eastwood appears headed for a starring role in a baseball movie. Eastwood reportedly will play a veteran scout who is trying to find one last prospect before he loses his sight in the movie “Trouble With the Curve.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Oct. 10, 1999, the Red Sox exploded for 23 runs on 24 hits, both postseason records, in a 23-7 rout of the Indians in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. Which Indians ace who would later go on to pitch for the Red Sox took the loss?

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Read More: Billy Beane, Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, Gary Bettman
Winnipeg sells 13,000 season tickets in 17 minutes 06.04.11 at 6:54 pm ET
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It didn’t take long for the NHL’s newest franchise to reach it’s goal for season ticket sales. In fact, it didn’t even take 20 minutes.

The former Atlanta Thrashers set out to sell 13,000 season tickets by June 21, but shortly after fans were able to buy tickets Saturday at noon, Winnipeg reached its goal with ease. According to the Winnipeg Sun, the total reached 13,000 within 17 minutes.

“While I had no doubt the ‘Drive to 13,000′ would reach its destination,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said, “the remarkable speed at which it got there certifies the fans’ hunger for NHL hockey and their commitment to True North’s initiatives.”

Read More: Gary Bettman, NHL, Winnipeg,
NHL: Deal not done to move Thrashers to Winnipeg 05.20.11 at 8:41 am ET
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The NHL was abuzz Thursday night with talk of the Thrashers relocating to Winnipeg, but the party in Manitoba may have started a bit early.

Atlanta owners still are heavily engaged in talks with True North Sports and Entertainment in Winnipeg, but company spokesman Scott Brown has denied the reported move in The Canadian Press as “not true.”

The Thrashers could very well end up north of the border, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is not willing to confirm anything just yet.

“I can tell you with certainty that there is no deal for this team to move,” Bettman said. “Am I predicting that there will never be or that there won’t be at some point in time? No, I’m not saying there is or there isn’t.”

Thrashers part owner Bruce Levenson has announced his desire to keep the team in Atlanta, but he has come up empty in his two-year search for a buyer.

If a deal goes through, Winnipeg would get its first NHL team since losing the Jets to Phoenix in 1996.

Read More: Bruce Levenson, Gary Bettman, Rumor Mill,