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Has Bettman Met His Match?

from Stephen Brunt of Sportsnet,

Oh, he was mad all right.

With Gary Bettman, there’s no mistaking it. The tense, twitchy body language, the eyes bulging a bit, the normally scripted public relations speak suddenly sounding like the words of a real live human being. That loss of control doesn’t happen often in public settings, but when it does, the whole world knows the commissioner is peeved. This was special, though, standing at the podium in New York on Thursday night. This was extraordinary.

And for some sitting at home interpreting the National Hockey League lockout as though it were a game or a night of theatre, this was evidence finally, that the lawyer who was the National Basketball Association's gift to hockey finally, really gave a damn about the sport just the way the fans do.

Could be. Could be that Bettman desperately misses all of those nights at the rink. Could be, also, that he doesn’t like the idea of having “Only Sports Commissioner Ever To Lose Two Full Seasons To Owner Lockouts” engraved on his tombstone.

But here’s an alternate explanation.

What set Bettman off was staring across the bargaining table at his mirror image.

continued

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

Comments

Evilpens's avatar

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOL

Posted by Evilpens on 12/07/12 at 02:23 PM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Posted by Evilpens on 12/07/12 at 02:23 PM ET

EP’s really gone over the cliff in the past 24 hours..

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 12/07/12 at 02:31 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

yep I’ve gone over the cliff laughing at clown farts like this who think Fehr is besting Bettman. Burkle who gives tons of money to the democrat Party & only the Democrat party & has gotten awards from the AFL-CIO was beyond Pissed off by Fehr BS & released a statement thanking the Players, BUT not Fehr, when the guy fights like hell to protect his privacy & likes to work without fanfare.

He is Known as a Very union Friendly guy, Not my words the Medias words !!

Some people fight like hell to avoid reality

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) is obviously one of them

Posted by Evilpens on 12/07/12 at 02:48 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

yep I’ve gone over the cliff laughing at clown farts like this who think Fehr is besting Bettman. Burkle who gives tons of money to the democrat Party & only the Democrat party & has gotten awards from the AFL-CIO was beyond Pissed off by Fehr BS & released a statement thanking the Players, BUT not Fehr, when the guy fights like hell to protect his privacy & likes to work without fanfare.

He is Known as a Very union Friendly guy, Not my words the Medias words !!

Some people fight like hell to avoid reality

LivinLaVidaLockout is obviously one of them

Posted by Evilpens on 12/07/12 at 02:48 PM ET


You have mental problems.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 12/07/12 at 02:56 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Some people fight like hell to avoid reality

Posted by Evilpens on 12/07/12 at 02:48 PM ET

Wow.  Just…..astounding

 

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 12/07/12 at 03:18 PM ET

Avatar

I don’t understand this type of thinking.

The people Fehr represents are out half a billion dollars relative a previous offer he rejected (or, more specifically, ignored). He just knowingly marched poor, unwitting Brad Richards and Marty St Louis to what had the look of a public announcement of their pending execution.

And yet, he’s being praised because he’s made someone else mad? What is this guy’s job again? Is it to be a troll or is it to make his guys as much money as possible?

Posted by larry on 12/07/12 at 03:19 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Posted by larry on 12/07/12 at 03:19 PM ET

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH ! making too much sense for some RW fans LOL

Posted by Evilpens on 12/07/12 at 03:21 PM ET

Avatar

what you saw last night was the beginning of the end of bettman’s run as commissioner. there is no way league can allow him present the next winner of the Stanley cup whenever hockey comes back.

Posted by FlyersFan on 12/07/12 at 03:23 PM ET

Avatar

I’m sure Burkle would be much happier dealing with Goodenow.

Burkle can be the most union friendly guy in the world, but when it’s his own money at stake and he’s not been one of main guys running the talks for the league, what he has to say at this point carries as much weight as some random player on twitter.

Oh no….he’s pissed as hell at Fehr.  Guess what, loads of players are pissed as hell at Bettman.  Fehr’s not holding up a deal any more than anyone else regardless of what Burkle thinks.  Either side could get a deal done if it really wanted to, and certainly could have several months back.  There’s no more good guys in this fight, even if it seemed like there was at some point.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 12/07/12 at 03:32 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Much like why I’m not sure why owners care about how the money is carried between individual players after they got their overall share locked down, I’m not sure why fans are all that interested in what players essentially “spend” to stand up for what they obviously feel is a principle.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/12 at 03:55 PM ET

Avatar

I’m not sure why fans are all that interested in what players essentially “spend” to stand up for what they obviously feel is a principle.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/12 at 03:55 PM ET

And what principle is that? Making Gary Bettman mad? While I do sympathize with the idea of wiping that smug look of his face, if that’s worth half a billion to anybody they’re out of their minds.

Or, perhaps, you’re referring to the principle I see from Scott Upshall today in my twitter feed, which can be summed up as “I don’t care if we ever have hockey because I’m already stinking rich.”

But in any event, this is of concern to me for the same reason watching an innocent acquaintance set himself on fire in a court room as if that would get him acquitted would be of concern to me. Because it’s illogical, senseless, harmful, regrettable and, ultimately, pointless.

Posted by larry on 12/07/12 at 04:17 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Valek

FlyersFan

2 more clown Farts with no clue

Posted by Evilpens on 12/07/12 at 04:35 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

And what principle is that?

To prevent being treated like cattle.

But in any event, this is of concern to me for the same reason watching an innocent acquaintance set himself on fire in a court room as if that would get him acquitted would be of concern to me. Because it’s illogical, senseless, harmful, regrettable and, ultimately, pointless.

We share a similar level of concern; my concern lies more with what got that innocent acquaintance into a courtroom where he’s been improperly charged with something in the first place.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/12 at 04:38 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by Evilpens on 12/07/12 at 04:35 PM ET

Hey look, more name calling!

Posted by Garth on 12/07/12 at 04:40 PM ET

Paul's avatar

The name calling really should stop and do remember, you can always ignore a member’s comments by going into your Profile, Utilities, Manage Ignore List and submit the member name you wish to ignore.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 12/07/12 at 04:44 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

EP’s boss:  “Hey, we’ve posted record profits….but we don’t think much of you and we’d like to reduce your salary.  And take away some of your holidays.  Why?  Well, because we can, obviously.  Not like anyone supports your rights anymore.”

EP:  “Fine.  But can I still lick your boots?”

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 12/07/12 at 05:04 PM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

Posted by Evilpens on 12/07/12 at 04:35 PM ET

Hey look, more name calling!

Posted by Garth on 12/07/12 at 04:40 PM ET

How surprising.

EP, do you feel like the players owe you something personally?  Do they OWE you to play this season?  Do they OWE it to the owners to accept their best offer when it doesn’t meet the players’ expectations?

If the answer is yes, you need to hire some representation to get in on these negotiations.  Or wait, was Burkle-Sidney your tag-team of representation that failed in delivering last night?  The greatest sole reason the NHLPA exists as it does today is to negotiate as a group of players in such financial matters. 

I’m sorry things haven’t gone well for you so far and that Crosby wasn’t able to “save the lockout,” and about your delusion that pro-union means “agrees with the union”

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 12/07/12 at 05:04 PM ET

Avatar

We share a similar level of concern; my concern lies more with what got that innocent acquaintance into a courtroom where he’s been improperly charged with something in the first place.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/12 at 04:38 PM ET

While I’m in complete agreement that Bettman and the owners started this mess when they had no damned reason to, writing articles praising Fehr’s success in failing at his job—and make no mistake, the job of every union negotiator everywhere is to maximize the comfort of living for his clients (whether that be through more money, better standards of living, more co-workers to reduce workload, or just minimizing takebacks if that’s all he can do)—because he’s made some loathsome jerk angry at the cost of his responsibilities and the exploitation of his charges, as this writer does, are way off base, in my view.

Tell me it didn’t make you a little sick to see the look on Martin St Louis face when he, quite earnestly and unexpectedly, was trotted out by Fehr, under false pretenses, only to have every hope crushed in front of everyone, which was exactly what his union boss wanted.

There is no reason to praise Donald Fehr for any reason after that sickening, cynical, self-serving, exploitative farce he put on last night. Especially because he’s made some smug jerk angry at considerable cost to the people who trust him.

Posted by larry on 12/07/12 at 05:34 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Posted by larry on 12/07/12 at 05:34 PM ET


This isn’t over, so the sort of conclusions you are making seem awfully premature considering that the hand isn’t yet over.  Furthermore, there is no way any of us commoners can know the details what has/hasn’t gone on in these negotiations and what Fehr has/hasn’t accomplished.  And finally, the players are still very supportive of Fehr and they have had multiple representatives in the room for every meeting.  He is obviously doing the job he was hired to do, and doing it in a manner that satisfies his employers.  So, to say he is “failing at his job” or being “self-serving” is completely baseless.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 12/07/12 at 05:52 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you on principle here, but kind of on definition. It kind of depends on who really makes up Donald Fehr’s clients here as far as what he really should be doing to serve their interests. 

If Don Fehr is working for THIS SPECIFIC Union as it is currently built, then he is damaging these clients earnings.

If Don Fehr is working for the collective concept of the Players’ union regardless of the people who currently make up that constituency, then it’s arguable about whether his tactics to annoy, expose, and frustrate a contentious NHL leadership aren’t doing the greater overall good.

Brunt doesn’t come right out and say that, but there are definite hints that the second definition is what he’s going after.  So while he is making a loathsome jerk angry, it’s actually a part of those responsibilities because it’s also serving to neutralize this part of the threat. 

If Fehr can long-term get the NHL to stop going with the anchoring bargaining tactic where they start off with half as much as they want to pay and then play chicken with actual hockey games until they get close enough to be comfortabe, then it can be seen as a victory not just to the long-term constituency, but also to the game of hockey itself.

Of course, the dark side to this is that when you pick back at the bully, the likelihood is that the short-term result of that is that he beats the shit out of you and then comes around to realize that it’s probably just not worth fighting you again.  You get sad things like Martin St. Louis’ face.

Of course, that’s all contingent on the rather flowery idea that Don Fehr is doing what’s best for the overall game and that the current players are committed to the personal sacrifice that they themselves are paying for the benefit of future players.  I can’t even particularly get myself to commit solidly to that idea… or at least commit to the idea that Don Fehr might be doing that altruistically.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/12 at 05:55 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Fehr is obviously trying to make it very uncomfortable for the NHL to use the brinkmanship that is the only tool in their box.
The idea that the owners can strong-arm the players until a prescribed date and then just get a deal done is insulting.
The thought of a big rich twat like Jacobs having an aneurysm because the other side doesn’t want to sit quietly at the table until he’s ready fills me with joy.  I hope he is throwing chairs all night somewhere.
The aim that Fehr is going after is exactly what he said last night…“to end the strategy of lock-out first and ask questions later….”
So he is trying to frustrate them.  Good.  I hope they are steaming.  I hope they are so put out that they approach it differently next time.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 12/07/12 at 06:59 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

Fehr is obviously trying to make it very uncomfortable for the NHL to use the brinkmanship that is the only tool in their box.
The idea that the owners can strong-arm the players until a prescribed date and then just get a deal done is insulting.
The thought of a big rich twat like Jacobs having an aneurysm because the other side doesn’t want to sit quietly at the table until he’s ready fills me with joy.  I hope he is throwing chairs all night somewhere.
The aim that Fehr is going after is exactly what he said last night…“to end the strategy of lock-out first and ask questions later….”
So he is trying to frustrate them.  Good.  I hope they are steaming.  I hope they are so put out that they approach it differently next time.
Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 12/07/12 at 06:59 PM ET


Absolutely true. This is still 100% on the Owners because of their bad faith unproductive negotiating tactics. The Owners and Bettman have learned nothing from the previous lockouts because the Players have always let themselves be walked over. The Owners will not see the Players as partners until the Players stand up to the Owners and beat them at their own game. The only way the NHL can prosper is if the Owners and the Players can work together as partners to grow the game. For the long-term health of the game, this season has to be cancelled. If it takes into next season as well so be it. If the Players cave yet again, we will all be right back here in the same place in 10 years when the CBA the Owners cram down the Players’ throats expires.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 12/07/12 at 07:52 PM ET

perfection's avatar

I’m impressed with Fehr actually. It sucks to be a fan for sure in the middle of this mess (I WANT HOCKEY DAMNIT!!!), but the fact is that a lesser negotiator would have either taken a worse deal than the players will ultimately get or would have a mutiny on his hands. The players have known for years that Bettman and the owners would go into this with a lockout-first mentality and Fehr has been preparing them to ride this out. As some of you pointed out, the absurd offer the league put forward right before the season was supposed to start proves that they intended to lock the players out all along. Yeah, players are losing revenue, but a lot of these owners are losing a LOT more. If their ultimate “victory” here was such a forgone conclusion, they would not be so angry right now. They would have poker faces daring the PA to take the league over the cliff. But Bettman and the owners are instead fuming, not because Fehr is just “making them mad”, but because they KNOW that he’s playing this right. The players are unified, the owners’ offers keep getting better and better and Fehr is counting on the fact that it will get even better still. That’s why there’s all this talk about the league pulling things “off the table”, because it’s the only way to create uncertainty. But the fact is that it’s obviously a bluff. They’ve been pulling things off the table the whole time only to then actually INCREASE offers in subsequent proposals.

I think that the ultimate deal will be as good and probably better than what the league just offered the other night. They may lose the season, they may not (and I think we’ll have one or two more few day blocks of dramatic near misses), but I think everyone’s known roughly the date when the league will cancel the season and I think Fehr is AT LEAST holding out for the best deal until that point. At that crossroad, various priorities will have to be reassessed on both sides. But as of now, nobody’s praising Fehr for simply pissing off Bettman, but rather the fact that Bettman is so genuinely pissed is indicative that Fehr is improving the deal for these players little by little on an almost daily basis. It’s definitely a game of chicken so Fehr could quite easily overplay his hand, but to say he’s not been effective thus far is naive and nearsighted (Evilpens’ apparent specialties!)

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 12/07/12 at 08:24 PM ET

Avatar

I’m impressed with Fehr actually. It sucks to be a fan for sure in the middle of this mess (I WANT HOCKEY DAMNIT!!!), but the fact is that a lesser negotiator would have either taken a worse deal than the players will ultimately get

Here’s the problem, perfection: the deal Fehr proposed yesterday—that the NHL rejected—was less lucrative than one he was presented with in October. If another negotiator would have settled for that, the players would have had a better deal.

More specifically: what Fehr is, himself, now proposing is worse than what he’s already rejected, at least, for the people who pay his salary.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/07/12 at 05:55 PM ET

I see what you and hockeytown are getting at. The theory that baseball has labor peace simply because past disputes have been too destructive and difficult that strongarming just isn’t worth it. Maybe Don Fehr even believes that. Lord knows, I have no idea what he’s working towards.

But I just don’t think it’s realistic. I think baseball has peace because too many people in baseball make enough to use their team for primary income. The Islanders or Jackets of the MLB make a shitload. In some cases, more than baseball’s “leafs” would make. There’s simply not appetite for fighting labor because primary income is disrupted. Hockey isn’t primary income for all but. like, 2 owners. It’s just not lucrative enough right now.

If labor kicks the ass of NHL owners, which isn’t happening now, they’ll either redouble their efforts, which is what they did when Goodenow scored 2 knockouts in a row, or sell their teams to people who will.

And while it could be argued the NHL -should- have a system that would make that possible in the future, nobody has proposed such a thing. Or even noted the real issue that will cause a long-term problem in hockey, asymmetrical growth. The only person to mention it, which was Fehr, acknowledged it -once- in July, then forgot about it and moved on to more important things, like proposing some 0% escrow BS, or clearing his throat loudly in meetings, or kicking M St Louis (who is, incidentally, the very embodiment of everything that’s ever been right about this sport) in the balls from behind and whatever else he’s been doing instead of the job the people who pay his salary hired him to do.

So instead of watching a Pens-Flyers game, I just watch this baseball guy pull a pied piper/judas iscariot routine in front of his clearly color-blind brother to prove some irrelevant point to a basketball guy I dislike while he stands in front of some typical bald New York management *#$%@& I don’t like, at the expense of people who deserve respect, and none of this will mean anything to their successors. This whole thing is pointless and sucks.

Nobody is winning. Nobody is smart. And if anybody has met his match, it’s because the bar is so low.

Posted by larry on 12/08/12 at 02:48 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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