Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Q&A quick hits

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: May 6, 2014 - 7:50 PM

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly are in the house tonight to take in the Wild's first second-round home game in 11 years.

Bettman came by the press room to say hello, and here he is on a couple brief subjects.

He said the divisional rivalries in the first two rounds of the playoffs are "what we envisioned," especially in terms of engagement from the fans.

"Buildings are more than 100 percent full, our TV ratings nationally are up, our digital platforms and social media is up."

He pointed out that of the second-round rivalries -- Wild vs. Hawks, Ducks vs. Kings, Bruins vs. Habs and Rangers vs. Pens, nobody's traveling more than 400 miles.

On the 8:30 p.m. starts to make sure every game can be seen nationally, Bettman said, laughing, "You’re asking me because you’re worrying about your deadline, but in this digital era, deadlines have become largely irrelevant." (I'd disagree, but ...)

As far as the fans, Bettman said, "The fact of the matter is we’re trying to satisfy the greatest demand for all the fans throughout North America, so it’s a balancing act. We think we’re doing it as sensibly as possibly. We think it’s worked well. It’s been a fair balance."

On a stadium-series outdoor game in Minnesota (I reported today the Wild's getting one at Target Field probably next year; Wild wants Chicago, NHL wants it to be Dallas), Bettman said, "We know of the interest. You know I was here looking at venues. I have nothing to announce, but," he said with a sly smile, "we’re very focused."

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