NEW YORK (AP) — So long as fans keep their chants clean, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has no issue with Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry being compared to pop star Katy Perry.
“I don’t think taunting chants at players on the other side of the ice, assuming the language is acceptable, is intended to be sexist in the slightest,” Bettman said during his annual meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors on Friday. “It’s like when you call a goaltender a sieve and they chant that. Is that now inappropriate?”
When reminded that sieves don’t have feelings, Bettman nodded in agreement.
“The point’s taken,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is, I don’t think Katy Perry was particularly upset by that chant.”
Questions of sexism arose after Jets fans taunted the Ducks star forward during Game 3 of their first-round playoff series at Winnipeg on Monday, invoking the name of the “Fireworks” and “Roar” singer.
“I think it’s overly literal,” said Bettman, who attended the game. “I think nobody there is taking it seriously.”
Without providing numbers, Bettman said the NHL has a greater percentage of female fans than do the other major sports. He said the league has taken other complaints seriously when fans cross the line with homophobic or racial chants.
“I take this no less seriously,” Bettman said. “But I think there’s always a line between what is parody intended in good fun and chanting what’s intended to belittle certain segments of society. We obviously don’t encourage that.”
Bettman expressed more concern about how some fans have acted inside and outside of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum during the Islanders two home playoff games against the Washington Capitals.
Several Capitals fans complained last week that their cars — bearing Virginia and District of Columbia license plates — were vandalized in the stadium lot.
Bettman said the NHL and the Islanders have increased security staff for Game 6 at Long Island on Sunday.
“Inappropriate conduct is discouraged and dealt with if necessary,” he said.
The game could be the Islanders last one at the coliseum, which they have called home for the past 43 years. The team is moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season.
Bettman called the move long overdue because Nassau Coliseum is outdated, and numerous plans for a new arena on Long Island have failed.
“The building is awful,” Bettman said. “The arena is no longer suitable, and it probably hasn’t been for some time.”
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