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Defining The Position Of Commissioner

from Mark Everson of the NY Post,

It was 20 years ago we first proposed the creation of an NHL commissioner. But not like this. Exactly not like this.

The, ahem, brainstorm came in the wake of the 11-day April 1992 players’ strike. That was the one that the late, great Roger Neilson was blamed (along with Mark Messier’s costly shorthanded foray, pilfered and converted for a vital Penguins’ power play goal — not to forget Ron Francis from 80-feet) for keeping those Presidents’ Trophy Rangers from ending The Drought at 52 years.

That suggestion came when John Ziegler was NHL president, about to be deposed for being caught by surprise by that short strike. Ziegler was succeeded by Gil Stein, whose good intentions immediately were negated and deposed by Hall of Fame overambition, while the NBA’s Gary Bettman was virtually unknown in hockey circles.

The idea proposed here was that an NHL commissioner should be “The Decider”, the tie-breaking third vote in a triumvirate with a president of the franchises and a union leader of the skating workers.

That Commissioner’s sole duty, his mandate, would be to further the best interest of hockey — not just the interests of the franchisees, nor just those of the laborers. He would be “The Protector of The Puck”. It would require the franchisees and the players to agree to submit to someone with irreproachable motives and judgement.

Well-aware then that the simple scheme was naive, idealistic and childish, it now looks even better, so right in hindsight — the NHL now into a third lockout, orchestrated by the man who curiously, immediately, accepted the new title of commissioner. But Bettman’s mandate is from the franchisees — to whom he answers — to maximize profits and control costs, such as labor.


Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink


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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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