Gary Bettman, Misunderstood or Buffoon?
Sir Joseph Bogle
Figured I would write a story that 99% of Flyers fans (and NHL fans) would disagree with me about. But if you read my article and you believe I might have changed your mind a tad on the man, that will work for me.
"Gary Bettman", Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!
Okay got that out of the way. I know the knocks against the man. He sucks, he hates the Flyers, he hires the wrong referees. Phoenix! Winnipeg! He hates Canada! Strike!
Time to look at some good points about Bettman.
- In 2004-2005 ESPN decided to lowball the NHL with a deal, OLN decided to up the ante and purchased the rights to broadcast the NHL. Pre Bettman, the NHL was shown on Sportschannel in the States and didn't have any free to air TV deal, except the all star game. This past season the NHL has signed a long term deal with Versus/NBC for $2 Billion through 2020/2021. With that new deal, the cap will go up, not down. Bettman took what was a $400 Million business in 1993 and turned it into a business approaching $3 Billion in revenue by this season.
- The lockout, people like to blame Bettman for this, He was a mediator. Blame the players and the owners who kept rejecting each other's offers. After being panned as one of the worst managers in business in 2004 for canceling the season,Bettman was lauded as one of the best in 2005 for his role in bringing "cost certainty" to the NHL. It was a necessary evil. In fact, players still wanted to go back on lockout after they found out there was a 24% roll back on their salaries and a hard cap.
- WHY IS HE KEEPING THE COYOTES IN PHOENIX!!? HE HATES CANADA RAWWWWR!!! When the Canadian dollar took a hit in the 90s, teams like the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers were struggling to compete with their American counterparts, and the rest of the teams in Canada, Gary Bettman and the owners proposed the Canadian Assistance Program, which helped those 4 teams stay in their respected cities. So, he hates Canadian teams so much he did this?Makes no sense.
- Expansion in the south. Kids in warm weather cities are now playing hockey because they get to watch their Stars, Lightning, Predators and Hurricanes.. is that a bad thing? I always thought people wanted the NHL to grow? More fans etc? More kids are participating in hockey schools more then ever before.
If you look at the sunbelt franchises:
- San Jose and Dallas are successes.
- Anaheim is a success.
- Carolina (relocation) does well.
- Colorado (relocation) does well.
- The Florida teams are a mixed bag (Tampa is doing well when the team does well. Panthers? Meh).
- Atlanta is a mixed bag (hope they do move).
- Nashville...is doing better.
- Expansion franchises in Minnesota and Columbus have done well economically and are fairly stable. You have to remember, the Flyers and Penguins were both expansion franchises that needed some years to flourish.
- Phoenix!!! Jim Balsaille wanted to buy the team and then move them to Hamilton, which is too close to Toronto, teams have to pay money if another team moves into their territory, the Isles did it, paying the Rangers and when the Devils moved to NJ, they had to pay the Flyers, Isles and Rangers. Last season the owners voted 27-0 on the sale of the Yotes to Balsaille. Blame Bettman on that? Or the owners?
- Gary Bettman hates the Flyers, conspiracy!! God, I am embarrassed to be a Flyers fan when I read or hear people say this. WHY do some Flyers fans take this stance on this? Is it that the Flyers being in two Winter Classics' in 3 years? Ohh, it's the Flyers making it to the finals last season and Bettman opening up Leightons legs for the Kane goal. He doesn't tell referees to make calls, he doesn't make discipline actions towards teams, thats Colin Campbell. He has No ILL WILL towards the Flyers. Ed Snider voted for him to get his newest extension, you think he would want him back as Commish if he felt Bettman hated his team?
- Stop the "He loves Sidney Crosby" nonsense. Flyers fans are more obsessed with Crosby than Bettman and Pens fans combined. Crosby makes money for the League,so does Ovechkin, so did Mario Lemieux, so did Wayne Gretzky, so did Steve Yzerman so did Mark Messier, so did Eric Lindros, so did Bobby Clarke, so did Gordie Howe, so did Maurice Richard.. this isn't a new phenomenon. You sound like whiners. How bout you blame Bob McCammon (Google him) Clarke, Jay Snider, Russ Farwell or Paul Holmgren for the lack of Stanley Cup banners!!? Oh you do, then carry on.
Bettman ranks #1 for Commissioners amoungst the 4 major sports in the US, ahead of Roger Goodell whose in a labor dispute, David Stern who kisses the poster of Michael Jordan every morning when he wakes up and Bud Selig, No joke needed here. In summation, stop blaming Bettman for every little thing that's wrong with the NHL, he just works for the owners, and his job is to make them money, when he does (and they do) the NHL flourishes.
So next time you see Gary, don't give him an evil eye or spit at him, just congratulate him and his League being named Professional Sports League of the Year by the SportsBusiness Journal against other finalists as MLS, NBA, NFL and UFC.
Next weeks article, why Pauly Shore deserves an Oscar and the Black Eyed Peas deserve a Grammy.