Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/07/12 at 09:16 PM ET
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke, who has the experience of being a Bettman employee, as the NHL’s director of hockey operations from 1993 to 1998, and of sitting with him in governors’ meetings, says he is the smartest man he’s ever met.
“When I worked for the league we would say about a guy, ‘He’s smart but he’s not Bettman-smart,’ ” Burke said.
Bettman is coming up on his 21st year as commissioner because he uses those smarts to keep the NHL’s 30 owners and their lieutenants mostly headed in the same direction. It may not be a direction completely in line with his personal views, which Bettman assiduously keeps to himself, but it is one he believes in strongly enough to stick to resolutely.
Bettman keeps the governors in line with a combination of methods.
There is legislation – he introduced a rule that allows him to reject a collective agreement proposal from the NHLPA with only eight votes from the 30 owners. Firing Bettman would require three-quarters of the owners to approve, something he negotiated when he took the job.
Bettman also made sure most of the other owners owed him enough, by naming them to the powerful governors’ executive committee or shepherding their attempts to buy a team or letting them bend the rules, that they will not cause any trouble. Finally, he makes sure he is aligned with the two most powerful owners, Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins, the chairman of the board of governors, and Ed Snider of the Philadelphia Flyers.
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