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Abel to Yzerman

A Fan Asks Gary Bettman For Answers: Transcribing Fingernails On A Chalkboard

A lot of people find it difficult to listen to Bettman interviews.  Some mentioned in the comment section of this post that they couldn’t listen to all of my interview with Gary at the recent Shanahan Summit.

The A2Y interns are not fans of Bettman, either.  When I asked them to transcribe our interview, they kept muttering something about wanting hazard pay and trauma counseling for the job.  Knowing A2Y’s budget has been blown on hookers, puppies, fire-trucks, and H2H bail, I sent them home and started to transcribe my interview with Gary Bettman myself.

As part of A2Y’s fair and biased forum, I will simply give you the transcript of our interview now.  I’ll save my commentary for another post, including my feelings on Gary Bettman referring to the 2004-2005 lockout as “the offseason”.

VooX: So I write for a blog called “Abel to Yzerman”, you may or may not know about us.  I will say this, I respect you coming and talking to me, because we have said some pretty mean things about you in the past.

Gary:  I hadn’t noticed.

VooX:  That’s okay.  We’re not looking for any extra viewers, we’re okay with 19.  Question to you from a fan, first of all, what gave you the idea to do this?

Gary:  Well, it’s always good to be reflective of what you have, and what you might be able to do to make it better, or to conclude that what you have is good enough the way it is.  We did this five years ago, during the offseason, and it has paid excellent dividends in terms of the way the game is being played now and the way the game has evolved.  So the thought was this is a good time to, since we’re coming off a season where I think most people think the game is as good as it’s ever been on the ice, that this was a good time to take a good look at it; and having Brendan Shanahan working with us, I thought it would be a good project for him to do.

VooX:  Going back, Shanahan has had his run-ins with your office for disciplinary issues.  He’s one of the grittier players, and a credit, maybe, to bringing that type of player into the NHL.  What made you reach out and offer him a position?

Gary:  I’ve known Brendan over the years, I’ve always respected the way he’s conducted himself on and off the ice.  I think he’s had a hall-of-fame career, and I think he is a smart guy who is passionate about the game.  And he was looking to do something after his playing career ended, and we both thought coming to the league office would be a good fit for both of us.

VooX:  Is he going to be a good fit as well coming up to the new CBA negotiations?

Gary:  We haven’t focused on that yet.  I’m not sure why people are focusing on our CBA negotiations, they are a couple of years away ‘til we reach the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.  It was just extended an extra year.

VooX:  Okay.  I have a question regarding the cap.  Now, there’s mixed emotions about caps, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of arguments.  In economics, we learn that if there is a salary cap, or a price ceiling or floor, you generate not only inefficiencies in the market, but you also generate what’s known as “black markets”.  Now, obviously, the NHL doesn’t have a black market, but the KHL is thriving.  Does the salary cap give the KHL more opportunity to get players they who otherwise fit in, and give them more legitimacy in Europe?

Gary:  First of all, I’m not sure that everybody would agree that the KHL’s “thriving”.  And secondly, the fact is, overwhelmingly, the players that want to play in the best hockey league in the world, want to play in the NHL.  But we’re not concerned about the KHL.  We wish them well, but we don’t view them with concern.

VooX:  Would a way to have NHL make, maybe, some inroads into Europe as having a development league for, maybe, teams or players who can’t fit under the cap to play in another league that’s NHL-based, not KHL-based, would that be a good way to break into Europe?

Gary:  Well there are leagues in Sweden, and Finland, and Germany, and so your question presumes that the only two leagues in the world are the NHL and the KHL, and that’s just not the case.  And we try to be very respectful of those other leagues, and what they mean for their countries.

VooX:  Okay.  Another question I have is regarding fan access to online content.  You’ve mentioned before that you consider NHL fans to be among the most media-savvy and technology-savvy.  And yet I know, we’re Red Wings fans, we have a lot of people spread around the country, because of Michigan’s economy, who have a tough time following games particularly on networks like, maybe, Versus where it’s not available in their area.  Are you happy with the situation with Versus?

Gary:  Absolutely.  They do a great job covering the game; they’ve grown to about 78 million homes.  People have gravitated to watching Versus and, in fact, I think the first two rounds in the playoffs were the most viewed ever on national cable TV this year, which is a testament to Versus.

VooX:  I’d like to mention that there was the Versus blackout on DirectTV last year. What was the NHL’s position trying to get them back on the air during that time?

Gary:  Well, the problem has been fixed, DirectTV is now carrying Versus, as I said, as are most of the other major cable and satellite providers.  It’s not unusual, in this evolving area, for there to be carriage disputes.  This was one of a number that happened last year.  But it’s been resolved, and it’s behind us.

VooX:  Is the resolution of that dispute due to the NHL’s pressure or was it more due to the pressure of the UFC, who was having their first televised event that same week (the resolution was solved)?

Gary:  I don’t think it had anything to do with either.  I think it had to do with the fact that Comcast, which owns Versus, and DirectTV were able to reach an agreement on the terms of carriage for a long period of time.  One event never defines the carriage agreements, that’s a naive view of the world if you think that’s how those decisions get made.  Much longer term focus goes into that.

VooX:  Coming up, there will be re-negotiations on other networks.  Do you expect similar resistance to Versus’ request for more carriage fees?

Gary:  You’re presuming that Versus is going to ask for more carriage fees.

VooX:  Okay, that is an assumption.  Assuming that they do, do you think that people will be amenable to it?

Gary:  I don’t try to speculate as to what people may or may not do, on things that may or may not happen.

VooX:  Okay.  Just a couple more questions.

Handler:  One more question, I need him.

VooX:  Okay.  Before your time as commissioner, did you get a chance to pay for many games in the NHL to have a chance to watch them?

Gary:  Did I what?

VooX:  Did you pay for many tickets before you became commissioner of the NHL, were you a fan before you became commissioner?

Gary:  Yes.

VooX:  Going back, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into hockey?

Gary:  I grew up in New York, where we went from one to three teams during the time I was growing up, and I was a huge a fan when I went to Cornell University, being a season ticket holder for my four years there.

VooX:  Thank you for your time, Gary.

Gary:  Thank you.

VooX:  I appreciate that.

=====

If you wish to download the .mp3, here it is.

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Comments

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SYF's avatar

VooX, the audio you posted earlier was more telling, IMO, because you could really hear the condescending and dodgy tone he took with your interview but it’s still worth it to read it.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 08/27/10 at 04:51 PM ET

Gabriel's avatar

I still think you should have concluded with a kidney punch. He always looks like he’s in pain anyway, I doubt anyone would have noticed.

Posted by Gabriel from San Diego, CA on 08/27/10 at 04:54 PM ET

VooX's avatar

I still think you should have concluded with a kidney punch. He always looks like he’s in pain anyway, I doubt anyone would have noticed.
Posted by Gabriel from San Diego, CA on 08/27/10 at 03:54 PM ET

I thanked Bettman and shook his hand, like a gentleman, at the end of the interview.  Gary wouldn’t look me in the eye, he did when I introduced myself.  Interesting.  No more commentary from me today.  I’m going to stay fair and biased for now.

Posted by VooX from Behind the Bar in the Hasek Club Car on 08/27/10 at 04:59 PM ET

MarkK's avatar

...being a season ticket holder for my four years there.

//cringes to have something so in common with Lil’ g.

Also, what SYF said. 

However, I will reiterate that it is very cool that he did the interview, even if the answers were as lawyeristic as expected.

Posted by MarkK from Maryland on 08/27/10 at 05:03 PM ET

Sullyosis's avatar

Knowing A2Y’s budget has been blown on hookers, puppies, fire-trucks, and H2H bail

Errmmmm….yeah…sorry about that, Gang.

Won’t happen again.

Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 08/27/10 at 05:15 PM ET

Sullyosis's avatar

Handler:  Just one more question!
VooX:  Fair enough

....

(3 Questions later)

VooX:  Did you see what I did there?  I waved my hand and you let me do whatever the fuch I wanted to.  Because Paul bestowed upon me the Jedi mind tricks before I got here.  Hence, Gary.Ass doing the interview.  Bitches.

Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 08/27/10 at 05:18 PM ET

behind the net in G.R.'s avatar

Good job Voox, very well done.

Posted by behind the net in G.R. on 08/27/10 at 05:27 PM ET

Gabriel's avatar

I thanked Bettman and shook his hand, like a gentleman, at the end of the interview.

Hmm…you know that means there’s only one degree of separation between you and Crosby’s pe…wait, on second thought, nevermind.

Seriously, awesome job on the interview.

Posted by Gabriel from San Diego, CA on 08/27/10 at 05:39 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

What I said the first time: dumb, but not stupid.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/27/10 at 06:04 PM ET

Wings_Fan_In_KC's avatar

He’s a clever litle troll.

Donald Fehr is going to f*cking jailsex him during the next CBA fight.

Posted by Wings_Fan_In_KC from ...somewhere southwest of The Motor City... on 08/27/10 at 06:17 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Thank you v00x, I hadn’t yet elevated the blood alcohol level high enough to listen to his nasal, condescending, you-don’t-know-jack voice for the entire interview.

I still think you should have concluded with a kidney punch. . .

. . . that means there’s only one degree of separation between you and Crosby’s pe…wait

Posted by Gabriel from San Diego, CA on 08/27/10 at 04:39 PM ET

Jeebus, welcome back Gabe!

Posted by RWBill from Brush Street cruising with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 08/27/10 at 06:20 PM ET

monkey's avatar

Thanks for the transcript.  I too can not stand to listen to that voice.

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 08/27/10 at 06:26 PM ET

monkey's avatar

I’m not sure why people are focusing on our CBA negotiations, they are a couple of years away ‘til we reach the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Because we’re fans, Gary, because we care.  Because we look to the future and see darkness, and it hurts us.

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 08/27/10 at 06:28 PM ET

RWBill's avatar


Bloggers tell more stories. Bloggers reach every nook and cranny of fan interest
from Ted Leonsis of Ted’s Take

———————-

A2Y’s budget has been blown on hookers, puppies, fire-trucks, and H2H bail
Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 08/27/10 at 04:15 PM ET

Attaboy Ted..
A lot of fans screamed at Ted b/c he blew up the Caps just before the lockout.  But he could see it was wise not to be encumbered going into an unknown financial future and the Caps weren’t going anywhere anyway.

He’s a self made man and supports a lot of charities.  And he knows Sullyosis apparently.

Posted by RWBill from Brush Street cruising with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 08/27/10 at 06:47 PM ET

Gabriel's avatar

Jeebus, welcome back Gabe!

Thanks man. Yeah, I missed pretty much the entire last season due to work… missed you guys.  Gotta thank Jenny Quarx for keeping me in the loop.

I’m not sure why people are focusing on our CBA negotiations, they are a couple of years away ‘til we reach the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Monkey, that line bugged me too.  Bettman, we’re worrying about it because you don’t seem to be.

Posted by Gabriel from San Diego, CA on 08/27/10 at 07:04 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Sullyosis

Blguin hates me, so I’ll say it here: Congrats for the NOHS gig, Pavel. I demand at least 50% of the posts to be written under the influence.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/27/10 at 07:10 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Oh gary….you had me at [b]” I hadn’t noticed. “.... sick

Posted by Down River Dan on 08/27/10 at 08:15 PM ET

cephalopod's avatar

I didn’t even make it thru the 2nd answer before my beer mysteriously spilled.  Thanks, Gary. Ass.

Posted by cephalopod from Chicago...nope, still not over it. on 08/28/10 at 12:20 AM ET

Avatar

Thanks Voox.  Good work as always.

Although I actually feel like I should go shower the filth off after having read his responses.  I cannot imagine if I had listened to the audio.

Posted by tjkac on 08/28/10 at 12:25 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I’m not sure why people are focusing on our CBA negotiations, they are a couple of years away ‘til we reach the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

gee I don’t know.  maybe because last time it took you so long to work it out we lost a SEASON.  idiot.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 08/28/10 at 03:09 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Is it October yet?

“One week left until things get serious,” says Jonathan Ericsson

Freakin Ay

Posted by RWBill from Brush Street cruising with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 08/28/10 at 03:27 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

The suggestion of a kidney punch, tempting as it might be, would undoubtedly have landed our Bartender in such deep legal shit that we dare not imagine what drastic legal hocus pocus would have been required to secure his freedom by October, and I for one shudder to imagine the Hasek sans alcohol

VooX, while I think your unique brand of faux-journalism leaves the MSM sucking and gasping in your dust, I’m also quite disturbed by the idea of the NHL’s ultimate power-broker being accompanied by a so-called “handler”.  Would this mysterious accomplice by any chance have been a nut-punching freak with Steven Tyler-esque lips who answers to the name Cindy?

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 08/28/10 at 05:03 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

I actually feel like I should go shower the filth off after having read his responses.  I cannot imagine if I had listened to the audio.

Heard the audio. Read the transcript. The ensuing acid bath was comparitively refreshing.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 08/28/10 at 05:07 AM ET

ITDeuce's avatar

VooX: Is he going to be a good fit as well coming up to the new CBA negotiations?

Gary: We haven’t focused on that yet.  I’m not sure why people are focusing on our CBA negotiations, they are a couple of years away ‘til we reach the end of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.  It was just extended an extra year.

Voox: Wow Gary, you really aren’t sure why people are “focusing” on that.  Do you think it is maybe because we lost a fuching season because of a petty schoolgirl spat between you and Bob Goodenow?  Just because it is a couple of years away doesn’t mean that it will be easier then.  That’s a pretty naive view of the world to believe that the new cba isn’t going to be a huge issue again this year, and that we shouldn’t worry about it.

Fixt. 
Voox you are a model of restraint.  And I have to say that you had the best coverage of the Shanny summit.  Truly.

Posted by ITDeuce from The Sunny High Desert on 08/28/10 at 09:16 AM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

The suggestion of a kidney punch, tempting as it might be, would undoubtedly have landed our Bartender in such deep legal shit that we dare not imagine what drastic legal hocus pocus would have been required to secure his freedom by October,

There’s more than enough legal firepower amongst the 19 to keep VooX behind the bar.
Good stuff here, I too can’t stand to listen to his whiny drivel out the nose so the transcript was a good thing.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 08/28/10 at 09:31 AM ET

WingsFanInBeanLand's avatar

Hmm…you know that means there’s only one degree of separation between you and Crosby’s pe…

All the internets. All of ;em.

Posted by WingsFanInBeanLand from where free agents no longer dare. on 08/28/10 at 09:44 AM ET

UMFan's avatar

A lot of people find it difficult to listen to Bettman interviews

Reading the interview wasn’t much better. You could still feel the uncomfortable nature of the Gary man. Should have asked Gary when the nhl is going to schedule back-to-back stanley cup finals games again.

Posted by UMFan from Denver, Colorado on 08/28/10 at 11:35 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Out for a day trip of 400 miles or so which I’m hoping will route me to Stone Brewery in Escondido by late afternoon…

Continuing some non- hockey drivel, how many millions of gallons of water are siphoned off to grow all the grass in desert Palm Springs to make it look like Peoria?  The natural flora is pretty much rock.

There are some massive wind turbine farms just off I-10 west of Palm Springs, hundreds of turbines.

Hoping to head to El Centro and possibly, time permitting, to Calexico to be kidnapped by the Sinaloa drug cartel.  Barring that, will head west towards SD on I-8 and up to Stone Brewery.

When I get a chance to get out on a road trip, no tellin’ what side roads I’ll take, my only self-imposed guidelines today are to not run out of gas and to stay on the north side of the border.

Posted by RWBill from Brush Street cruising with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 08/28/10 at 02:29 PM ET

monkey's avatar

Monkey, that line bugged me too.  Bettman, we’re worrying about it because you don’t seem to be.

Word.  When one views the world through the lens of a douche, one’s perspective is skewed.

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 08/28/10 at 02:58 PM ET

Sullyosis's avatar

Hoping to head to El Centro and possibly

Gross, El Centro.  Friend works there at the Gypsum mine for USG.  Ever wonder where drywall comes from?  Death Valley, basically.

Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 08/28/10 at 03:32 PM ET

Gabriel's avatar

Ever wonder where drywall comes from?  Death Valley, basically.

Funny, when I think of Death Valley, the first thing that comes to mind is borax mining. Mostly because you have to hold your breath through Trona.

Posted by Gabriel from San Diego, CA on 08/28/10 at 04:37 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

When one views the world through the lens of a douche, one’s perspective is skewed.

Posted by monkey from bat country on 08/28/10 at 01:58 PM ET

*adds “douche-lens” to vernacular*

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/28/10 at 04:44 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Funny, when I think of Death Valley, the first thing that comes to mind is borax mining.

The first thing in my mind is Coolio.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/28/10 at 04:44 PM ET

WestWing's avatar

Out for a day trip of 400 miles or so which I’m hoping will route me to Stone Brewery in Escondido by late afternoon…

The name “Arrogant Bastard” is not just a name—they really are.  But Wings fans, hell we know the concept.


*adds “douche-lens” to vernacular*

Douche goggles.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 08/28/10 at 05:40 PM ET

Gabriel's avatar

*adds “douche-lens” to vernacular*

*adds “vernacular” to my vocabulary*

The first thing in my mind is Coolio.

When I think of Coolio, I thikn of that Hawaiian Punch mascot.

Posted by Gabriel from San Diego, CA on 08/28/10 at 05:59 PM ET

Alzy's avatar

When I think of Death Valley, I think of the Undertaker. And Coolio reminds me of the rapper who did “Gangster’s Paradise.”

Is it October yet?

Posted by Alzy from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 08/28/10 at 06:04 PM ET

monkey's avatar

When I think of Coolio, I thikn of that Hawaiian Punch mascot.

When I think of the Hawaiian Punch mascot, I think of the Kool-Aid man.  OH YEAH

*adds “douche-lens” to vernacular*

You guys and gals are awesome.

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 08/28/10 at 07:52 PM ET

pgoody's avatar

And now when you think of the Kool-Aid man you’ll think of projectile vomit…

Posted by pgoody on 08/29/10 at 12:25 AM ET

Lucce's avatar

Smugness…... He haz it.

Posted by Lucce from Kingdom of Zweden on 08/29/10 at 01:56 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Posted by RWBill from Brush Street cruising with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 08/29/10 at 03:09 PM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com