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Bettman’s Legacy

from Jeff MacGregor of ESPN,

And in the whole, long history of disasters and capitalism, has there ever been a bigger disaster than the National Hockey League or its mortician, Gary Bettman? The decommissioner has managed in just 20 years to make the league invisible. An afterthought. An unfunny punch line to a joke no one recalls. By his own accounting, the league is poised on the brink of insolvency. Again. Still. A constant invalid.

Bettman's legacy will be $60 million league "relocation fees," a shell game of mishandled franchises and indifferent cities, ineptitude and cupidity and a National Hockey League too big in fact and too small in the imagination. And a long history of bungled union-busting. On behalf of his owners, whenever the CBA comes up for renewal it has been Bettman's practice to bring a gun to what should be a butter knife fight. And even those fights he loses. The game staggers on. In arenas built by taxpayers.

All due respect to the relevant parties, but any one of us could pick a fan at random out of the stands at an OHL game in Guelph or Kitchener or the 'Soo and find a better head and a better heart to serve the game of hockey.


Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: gary+bettman


Vladimir16's avatar

The first comment says it all….

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 11/13/12 at 04:04 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

& again someone writing about hockey from ESPN which doesn’t give a SHIT about any sport it doesn’t have

Posted by Evilpens on 11/13/12 at 04:35 PM ET


I think the ‘decommissioner’ shot was pretty funny.

Other than that, though… enh.  The NHL was invisible for quite a few years there between when they walked away from ESPN and getting in with NBC, but there were real reasons why ESPN didn’t particularly care if they had NHL hockey or not, and none of those reasons have ever or will ever change.

The NHL is a niche sport.  It just is.  It’s not going to ever be as big as the NBA or the MLB and it’ll never be anywhere close to the NFL.  20 years ago I thought maybe there might be a chance it would sneak into the top 3, but not any more.  There just isn’t a big enough install base of people who grow up with it or grow up playing it to ever be able to unseat the larger sports.

They could stuff all 30 teams into big US cities and there never will be.

The real problems come up when people refuse to accept that and start trying to force the NHL into growth it’s not capable of sustaining.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 11/13/12 at 04:56 PM ET


the speech and reception he received last night at HHOF summed it all up.

Posted by FlyersFan on 11/13/12 at 08:00 PM ET


Once I see the letters ESPN I turn off.  Bettman has done a lot for the NHL.  Remember John Ziegler?  They couldnt give hockey away.  I remember a Stanley Cup game on CBS I believe where they wouldnt show the boards because there were ads on them.

He’s wrong on this lockout, but overall he’s been a plus.

Posted by 13 user names on 11/13/12 at 10:26 PM ET


Comparing Bettman to Ziegler is damning by feint praise. Ziegler ran the NHL like it was a garage league set up by a bunch of cronies in Canada while smoking cigars over a game of cards. So outside of the revenues generated, not much has changed.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 11/14/12 at 05:56 PM ET

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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.

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