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Give Bettman Credit

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

So if anyone imagines that what has happened this week will end up seeing Bettman given the bum's rush out of the NHL's New York offices, his briefcase and foam fan finger flying out behind him onto the Avenue of the Americas, they will be sadly mistaken.

In many ways, such discussion is moot given that Bettman is approaching his 20th anniversary as commissioner. Assuming a new deal extends at least six years (does anyone hear 100?), how likely would it be that Bettman would still be at the helm next time around regardless of how this played out?

It may matter to the legion of fans, players and agents that naively blame Bettman for this entire mess. Were that life was that simple. It's not.

Still, as we watch intently for that pinprick of light to grow into something more, something like a real hockey season, it's worth noting that regardless of how we got here and how history will judge the winners and losers, this much is undeniable: while you can argue Gary Bettman is the author of most of this labor darkness, there is no light this week without him.


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


George Malik's avatar

I would be more willing to “give him credit where credit is due” if he’d thought of this in September, October or November, or if he’d chosen to allow the NHL and PA to play through negotiations. One good deed, even if it leads to profound progress, does not make a man who’s wiped out the equivalent of two full NHL seasons already any less a villain.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/05/12 at 07:58 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

f he’d chosen to allow the NHL and PA to play through negotiations.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/05/12 at 06:58 PM ET

Why do people think this was even an option? In 1992, that’s what happened and the players went on strike. No way the BoG ever wants to face that again so they will always lockout instead of playing with no CBA.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 12/05/12 at 08:07 PM ET


Considering it was also Fehr’s go to in baseball, I can’t really blame the owners for locking out the players instead of letting them play.  Doesn’t mean I agree with it, but can’t blame them for being skeptical.

Regardless, it may be a bit premature to give anyone credit.  If no deal is reached to save the season, yesterday doesn’t matter.

Posted by pens fan in baltimore on 12/05/12 at 08:41 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

So if anyone imagines that what has happened this week will end up seeing Bettman given the bum’s rush out of the NHL’s New York offices, his briefcase and foam fan finger flying out behind him onto the Avenue of the Americas, they will be sadly mistaken…..

One can always hope.

Posted by Down River Dan on 12/05/12 at 10:45 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Uh, I can blame the owners for locking out the players if it was only to cement Fehr’s status. Are you frickin’ kidding me? This lockout was completely unnecessary.

For the record, even as a Red Wings fan, if it turns out that Crosby was the one behind all of this, I’ll laud him. I don’t give a flying f*** who “started it,” and at least until the puck drops, we’re all fans of the game getting back on the ice, regardless of which team we root for.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/05/12 at 11:53 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

It’d be easy enough to get the NHLPA to sign a no strike clause for the duration of the extension. That would also bind them to negotiate or play under a system without raises

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/06/12 at 12:32 AM ET


For me this lockout is simple. Do the owners have the right to lock the players out? Yes. Is it the best bargaining chip the owners can use to get the best deal they can get? Yes. Do I care if the owners get the best deal they can get? No.  I want to watch hockey, I do not care who gets what share of my money.  Was there a threat that Fehr would ask the NHLPA to strike? Yes. Do we know 100% that he would break his word and the players would strike? No. Did the NHLPA offer to continue to play and not strike? Yes. Did the NHL ever consider the offer? No, by all accounts.  Was there an option to continue to play at the expiration of the CBA? Yes. Was it favorable to the NHL to do so? No. Was it favorable to the NHLPA? Yes. Now ask yourself which approach was more favorable to the fans? No Hockey or Hockey with the threat of an illegal strike?

In my opinion, it comes down to my belief that the NHL was going to lockout the players no matter what happened. This is only my opinion, but I strongly believe that was the NHL strategy from the start. Almost no one believed the NHL would lockout again and the only way this is conceivable is if that was the plan from the the beginning. Unless the NHLPA accepted that very first 43% offer, the two sides could have started negotiating two years ago and there would still be a lockout because the owners know that gives them the best deal, period. If the NHLPA would have accepted that deal, there was a better chance Bettman would have been fired since I believe there would have been owners that felt he left something on the table by not locking the players out.  I know this gives the owners their best leverage and as titans of industry this is a great business practice, but doesn’t mean I have to like it.  If someone doesn’t do something I like, I don’t reward them by giving them my money or even my moral support.  Legal doesn’t mean fair or just.  This isn’t a court of law, but public opinion. The only recourse is my wallet.

The NHL could have called Fehr’s bluff and stated they would be willing to continue to play under the current CBA. That is to continue with the NO STRIKE CLAUSE IN THE EXISTING CBA and say they will go forward with a provision that a percentage of revenue will go into escrow to balance the books between whatever CBA existed and the new CBA to be negotiated. This by all accounts I have read , never happened and we have no hockey. Anyone that states this cannot be done is either ignorant of the facts or just not being truthful. It can be done, it just isn’t to everyone’s benefit, but it would have meant hockey would be played as they negotiated.

The owners and players have already lost over a $1 billion and they will never recoup that money. Not just the players, but the owners too. That money is gone forever, the owners may get a greater percentage of future revenues and they may wind up making more net, but the $1 billion in revenue is lost forever. I don’t care who gets what in the end and they don’t care about me. I know they haven’t seen any of my money and that money is lost to them forever during the lockout. As I have done in the past,  I will not give them any of my money for double the duration of the lockout and that usually dwindles the amount of money I commit to hockey when I do come back. That may not be “fair” to one side or the other, but since the NHL/NHLPA don’t care about what is fair and only what is legal, I have every right to not give them my money either.

Another feather in Bettman’s cap - Collin Campbell Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations for how many years? Does he get credit for that one too?

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/06/12 at 10:54 AM 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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