It wasn't what Dallas Stars president Jim Lites said that irked NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, but how he said it.
Last Friday, Lites lit into his two star players, forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. He told The Athletic that Seguin and Benn have been "f—ing horses—; I don't know how else to put it." He added that the sentiment was shared by owner Tom Gaglardi, and continued: "What nobody says is what is completely obvious to me: We are getting terrible play from our top two players."
Speaking to reporters at Tuesday's Winter Classic in South Bend, Bettman frowned upon the tone of Lites' comments.
"We're never going to condone profanity," said Bettman, who said no one in the NHL's hockey operations department reached out to Lites after his tirade.
But he saw the rest of this public trashing of two previous NHL All-Star players as an internal matter for the Stars.