Posts Tagged ‘Gary Bettman’
(Now back to me.)
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman humorously declared “you have a dynasty” tonight, and my inner cynic practically choked on its sarcasm-flavored Kool-Aid.
Thanks, Mr. Commissioner. Where can I pick up the keys to my dynasty?
Oh, God. Really? Is this the sort of dynasty I should have a doctor look at?
Does this dynasty come with french fries? I’d like to super-size it.
Here’s the thing: It was Bettman who fought to institute a salary cap in 2004. It was a salary cap that forced the Blackhawks to jettison some of their best players (Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg and ultimately Antti Niemi) after winning the first Cup of their alleged dynasty back in 2010. You want a real dynasty? Show me a Chicago Blackhawks team that didn’t have to eject half of its young core, then pin its hopes on a group of six players, then hope it guessed the right six, then hope those six stayed healthy, then hope the salary cap remained stable enough that it didn’t have to trade any of the six over the next half-decade.
The headline of an article published on Boston.com today asks, “Why Are We So Mum On The NHL’s Response To Domestic Violence?”
The question grabbed me a bit more than usual. Just last night I took 15 minutes out of my evening to discuss the NHL’s response to domestic violence with Norm Rumack on SiriusXM Canada.
But hey, maybe I was missing something.
Turns out I was not.
To begin with, it’s a flawed question. Some of us are discussing the topic — on a radio station with more than 1.8 million subscribers at last count.
That might be a smaller audience than most Ray Rice-related dialogue, and the second paragraph of the story asks, “why aren’t we talking more about this”?
SUBURBAN VANCOUVER – We had to take cover and bail the oncoming assault of mortars from you-know-who.
Red alert? This was more like taking shelter for a tornado-tsumani-earthquake disaster that opened the Earth and swallowed your soul.
Our Secret League threatened the NHL’s existence as the final grains of sand sifted through the time capsule and the NHL season threatened to die.
And then the NHL took action and launched a full-scale war.
Our “location” was no longer a secret: They discovered we were in suburban Vancouver.
A high-profile sports agent1 once told me that the job of every commissioner is to keep the owners of his eight poorest teams happy.
It makes sense. Think of an NHL owners’ meeting like an annual family get-together. Your annual family get-together, perhaps. Every year, a couple of siblings can’t stop talking about how miserable their lives are while their brothers and sisters can’t stand to be in the same room, appalled that they’re somehow related to these idiots. New York and Toronto have better things to do than listen to Florida and Nashville whine and complain. The same can surely be said of every league — for the NFL, just substitute Dallas for New York and Jacksonville for Nashville. In the NBA, substitute the Lakers for the Leafs and the Bucks for the Panthers.
From the outside, it doesn’t make sense. Psh, billionaire problems, we moan. We wonder, if the Leafs are so rich, why aren’t they more influential? Meanwhile, inside the room, you can just imagine them shaking their heads, sighing, saying “my family is so … ugh.”
DATELINE UNKNOWN – It’s been a while since our last report from the “Secret League” — two weeks, to be exact — but the delay is not our fault. Our dispatcher was filing a report, only to see a mortar eliminate our satellite tower.
We were out of action for a week.
And we know who’s responsible for it.
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There is a familiar saying about “instigators” in hockey — you love ‘em when they’re on your side, you hate ‘em when they’re not. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Matt Cooke, Raffi Torres and Chris Simon have so much in common, it’s ironic that they run afoul of each other so often.
That’s because Bettman is the game’s ultimate instigator. He routinely issues proud proclamations to packed Stanley Cup stadiums while fans douse his words with boos and whatever projectiles they can grab. He says one thing to the public and another behind closed doors. He says nothing about the Atlanta Thrashers or Winnipeg Jets, while secretly ensuring the Atlanta Thrashers cease to exist and become the Winnipeg Jets. And he doesn’t care what you think about any of this.
For 20 years, hockey people have tried to pin down Gary Bettman with a single word – villainous, American, opportunistic, short, smart, lawyer, Jewish. Author Jonathon Gatehouse may have come the closest in “The Instigator: How Gary Bettman Remade the NHL and Changed the Game Forever.” ($24.95, Triumph Books) Researched to the Gladwellian hilt1 and fair to a fault, “The Instigator” is less about Bettman the person and more about Bettman the commissioner — tapping into the perspective of NHL history, the history of commissioners, the psyche of (mostly Canadian) fans who want to beat the guy up and that of (mostly American) fans who don’t give a damn about hockey.
We’ve had enough.
We’re sick of this NHL lockout in its 29th day, of jostling among overpaid executives, of hoping for a partial season one day and the despair of a lost season the next.
We’re sick of hearing about our NHL stars going overseas to play for teams you can’t spell in a game of Scrabble.
Sick of it all.
We’re starting our own season. With NHL players. Every single one of them.
With those famous words, then-32-year-old defenseman Chris Chelios laid down the gauntlet for every crass word directed at the NHL commissioner by an active player. It’s one heck of a gauntlet. We’re still talking about it 18 years later.
That is, unless you forgot or weren’t alive in 1994 — in which case, you’ll be talking about it now …
A few things to remember first:
1. Bettman was one year into his term as commissioner. His knowledge of the game has grown in the years since.
3. The 1994-95 lockout lasted 104 days. Imagine what a 50-year-old Chelios would say now!
I sit here from Gand Bend, Ontario putting a pen to my heart and writing on paper what bleeds out. My name is Krys Barch. I have played…..
— Krys Barch (@krysbarch) September 30, 2012
In 653 words and scores of ellipses, New Jersey Devils tough guy Krys Barch humanized the players’ side of the lockout on Saturday night, 140 characters at a time.
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