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Is Gary Bettman A Hockey Hall Of Fame Candidate?

from John Dujay of Canada.com,

It was 20 years ago today that the NHL found an obscure NBA executive and anointed him as the first ever commissioner.

Now before you start spitting mad at the thought of this question, consider it carefully: Does Gary Bettman belong in the Hall of Fame?

All of that cursing is not going to get you anywhere, especially if there are young children around. Just consider the state of the league in 1992 and the state of the league today (disregarding the current lockout, about which reams of words have been written).

Total revenues were around $400 million and now they are more than $3 billion annually. There were 24 teams then and now there are 30. As well, the league just signed a $2 billion TV deal with NBC.

So in terms of pure revenue and growth, it’s a no brainer: Bettman’s tenure has been wildly successful. If he were a CEO with those numbers, he would be lauded as a visionary genius and be on the cover of Forbes magazine.


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


henrymalredo's avatar

Bettman will end up in the HHoF, if he deserves it or not.  He won’t get in until he retires (They don’t want another Gil Stein incident), but pretty much every person involved in the ownership and running the league gets induction if they hang around long enough.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 12/11/12 at 01:51 PM ET


I would nominate the black and silver NHL podium for Hall of Fame status. smile
Unfortunately, @henrymalredo is correct, Bettman will one day be in.

Posted by mc keeper on 12/11/12 at 02:18 PM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

I hope he’s in the same HHoF stall as Sidney Crosby.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 12/11/12 at 02:34 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

I hope he’s in the same HHoF stall as Sidney Crosby.

Cue the “Jackatoreum” photo.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 12/11/12 at 02:36 PM ET


My question would be, how different would the league look if someone other than Bettman was commissioner for the last 20 years?  Everyone who defends Bettman claims he’s just doing what the owners tell him.  If that’s the case why would he deserve to be in the HHoF? 

I have a feeling that a commissioner who wasn’t just an owners’ mouthpiece, and was truly working towards the interest of the NHL as a whole including both the players and the fans could have done better.  At the very least, the league wouldn’t have lost as many games to labor strife as it has during Bettman’s reign.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 12/11/12 at 03:56 PM ET


I may not like Bettman, but he was, undeniably, better at his job than HHOFer John Ziegler, who also happened to be a pension-raiding crook, to boot, something that not even Bettman was smarmy enough to have attempted..

Posted by larry on 12/11/12 at 06:29 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Is Gary Bettman A Hockey Hall Of Fame Candidate?

LOL. Good one!

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 12/11/12 at 07:06 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

The Jackass hall of fame?

Posted by Down River Dan on 12/11/12 at 07:21 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

I’d sooner burn Bettman at the stake right in the middle of Times Square.

HHoF my ass ... pffffffff ... no way.

Talk about contract lenght limitations ... If the President of the United States can only serve 2 terms why not put a limit on how long some putz can be NHL commissioner ??

Bettman has been a disaster .... too many teams ... teams in the wrong markets ... improper equipment .... too many added & altered rule making referees more visible & more likely to change the outcome of a game.

What he’s done to hockey is flat out obscene.  If I were Canadian I’d be livid. As a lifelong Detroiter I can only be pissed.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 12/11/12 at 07:28 PM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

My question would be, how different would the league look if someone other than Bettman was commissioner for the last 20 years?

That’s the reason I think it’s a bit off to give him credit for the growth in revenues (what, a six-fold increase I think?) the league has experienced since he has served the last 20 years.  With the growth of sports as a whole, a commissioner would have had to have done something seriously wrong to not achieve at least a major portion of the growth Bettman has achieved; who really knows the variance.. but back in ‘94 the NBA and NHL were neck-and-neck in terms of popularity.  Basketball is a global sport now, deeply penetrating Asia, and hockey has grown throughout the USA… on the peripherals where non-traditional markets hardly even notice when it’s gone.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 12/11/12 at 09:33 PM ET


but back in ‘94 the NBA and NHL were neck-and-neck in terms of popularity.

I can’t attach any numbers to support this, but my recollection was that Michael Jordan would have had better name recognition than the President in 94. Probably the same with Bird and Magic. Gretzky would have been known, but not like that.

I’d be awful surprised if the NBA was the same size as the NHL in 94. Or ever.

Posted by larry on 12/11/12 at 09:47 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Ask the Habs fans how they feel about Clarence Campbell being in the HHOF.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 12/11/12 at 10:11 PM ET


I don’t think Commissioners should be included as an individual, but all of them should be recognized for their role. Good, bad or otherwise. They are what they are and as such are significant to the game of hockey.

Posted by timbits on 12/11/12 at 10:32 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

He should be in the labour relations exhibit.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 12/11/12 at 11:30 PM ET


How can he not be in?  He made the NHL a top shelf league.  It was a bush operation when he took over.

the league does everything first class now.  Revenues are 5-6 time what they were when he took over.

Players may hate him but they’d be making peanuts without him.

Posted by 13 user names on 12/12/12 at 02:58 AM ET


Bettman will get into the HHOF only because sports leagues generally put their commissioners into their respective HOF’s.

But I agree with previous comments that :

a) with all the increased revenues for all sports in the last 18 years, he would have had to be really bad not to have revenues rise

b) yes, there are 30 teams in the league, but it’s too many. There are still too many franchises not doing well or have been/are in bad locations.

Also, yes, the NHL has made Versus into the NBC Sports Network, but it was the freaking Outdoor Living channel broadcasting fishing shows back in ‘95. How could the NHL not help? But does the NHL really have more visibility than it did when it was on ESPN? Don’t think so.

As well, there have been three lockouts in 18 years under his watch totaling two full seasons of games and counting. That’s 10% of the games under his term. Can any other commissioner in sports history boast that dubious distinction?

After the last lockout in ‘05, he told us that the new CBA would give stability to the league and lower (lol…LOWER? Like any of us believed THAT) ticket prices. The NHLPA basically capitulated and he was overjoyed that he got everything he wanted. Of course, none of that happened and now he and the owners want more? Even with league revenues increasing by so much? What happened? Why did the CBA of ‘05 that he was so happy about not work out for him?

And this is coming from someone who most frequently sides with management in these negotiations. But not this time…and I can’t stand Donald Fehr from when he was director of the MLBPA. I can’t even believe I’m siding with him now.

All I know is the ‘95 lockout shortened season felt incomplete and invalid to me. They’ve done it again with this season even if they announce an agreement today. And of course losing the ‘05 season was a disgrace.

HHOF for Bettman? Probably will happen. But he is also probably in the top 5 most hated commissioners in the history or major league sports too.

Posted by glenNYR on 12/12/12 at 03:17 PM ET

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