Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/28/12 at 05:28 PM ET
from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated,
Make no mistake. The NHL is Commissioner Gary Bettman’s fiefdom. It has been ever since 19 years ago he walked in and, according to a former member of the Board of Governors, essentially grabbed the querulous owners by the scruff of the neck and made them sit up and pay attention. Bettman took a self-satisfied Mom-and-Pop shop and made it a bigger business, for better and sometimes worse. He dragged the league into the late 20th century.
But Collins has been the jet fuel, taking it into the 21st century. Maybe beyond.
As one NHL executive put it, “He’s really changed the culture of the league.”
You probably don’t know his name, but you do know his signature as the NHL’s P.T. Barnum. While the lawyerly Bettman generally is about taking things step by step, Collins, the business guy, breathlessly rushes to the next thing, pushing, mining for opportunity and never having a bad hair day. The NHL’s 1,230 regular season games—OK, 1,229, after the Winter Classic—seem to have become an interregnum connecting the new narrative as the league lurches from one special event to the next. John Shannon, the former NHL broadcast executive and now a superb hockey analyst for Sportsnet, a Canadian cable network, would chide Collins about getting back to the NHL’s regularly scheduled programming, as it were. But Collins always seemed to be looking at a point on the horizon.
The Winter Classic ... Collins helped turn the frigid and nearly-forgotten 2003 Heritage Classic, which had no visibility in the United States, into a phenomenon, at least in relative terms. HBO’s 24/7 ... that’s him. The NHL’s media and digital revolution also has his fingerprints all over it.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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