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Is It Fair To Blame Bettman?

from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, 

The Blame Bettman Bandwagon, which was already bursting at the seams, has been gaining legions of members by the day. It has been very convenient to blame Bettman for everything from global warming to New Coke these days, to the point where it would probably be a good idea for Bettman to ignore Twitter. (Actually, it would be a good idea for everyone to ignore Twitter, but that’s a rant for another day.)

Of course, you’d expect it from fans who are bitter about not having the NHL and can’t get over the fact that Bettman isn’t from Moose Jaw. But as is always the case in times like this when perspective is an early casualty, you’re getting it from people who should know better.

People such as Teemu Selanne, who recently wrote on a blog that Bettman, “is certainly the NHL’s most hated person.” Or John-Michael Liles, who tweeted in all his grammatically correct glory that he, “Just wanted to send out a big congrats to gray (sic) bettman for his 3rd consecutive work stoppage. Impressive stats for someone w no athletic skill.”

So, let’s see here. At last count Selanne has made almost $70 million over the course of his NHL career, which began just a couple of months before Bettman took office. At that time, the NHL had revenues of about $400 million. Now they’re at $3.3 billion. You’d have to be a complete dullard not to realize that Bettman had something to do with that and the subsequent pay raises Selanne received because of those increases.


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


LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

At what rate have the other major sports leagues grown at in the time since Bettman became commissioner?  If he has beaten those rates, then yes, maybe he deserves some credit for the growth of the league, but I guess I’m a complete dullard for not realizing Bettman actually saved the NHL instead of destroying it without being presented any numbers on the subject.  Thanks for the in-depth analysis, Ken.

And yes, you can blame Bettman because this is a negotiation between two people - not 30 owners and hundreds of players.  If he wanted to, he could’ve convinced the owners it was in their best interest to play the current season and deal with this next year - or a thousand different other possibilities of what is best for them.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 09/24/12 at 03:11 PM ET

gowings's avatar

I’m sorry, but nobody is going to make me believe that he gets paid 8m/year to just “represent the owners” and do their bidding. Seriously, if that is really the scope of his job then the owners are really stupid.

Posted by gowings from MTL on 09/24/12 at 03:29 PM ET

DocF's avatar

The Evil Garden Gnome is paid to keep the rational owners from running off with the game.  As long as the owners include people as short-sighted as some of the minions who support their commissioner, the NHL is now in real danger.  Bettman is leading this fiasco.

I am finished.  I have officially washed my hands of the NHL in particular and hockey (pro) in general.  A pox on all of them.

I will go back to automobile racing.  I know what the problems there are and they can be fixed. 


Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 09/24/12 at 04:10 PM ET


At $8 million a year, is he not paid in part to take some of the blame if he is also asked to take some of the credit? And credit for what? I am told over and over again that it is the owners, not the players that make the league. The owners could then just as easily hire someone else to run the NHL since they are the true voice behind eveyrhting that goes on. So is he a replaceable patsy or the mastermind?

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/24/12 at 09:18 PM ET

Mojo Tooth's avatar

You lost me at “from Ken Cambell”

Posted by Mojo Tooth on 09/24/12 at 10:06 PM ET


I question the irrational and visceral hatred some people hold for Bettman. At times it seems there is more at work here than his policies. They talk about his background, the fact he is a New York lawyer, his physical and verbal characteristics or other cultural connotations. I can only suspect that some of this stems from anti-semetic views. That doesn’t mean that everyone who dislikes Bettman’s actions are anti-semetic, but those who focus on an irrational hatred have other things going on.

Posted by timbits on 09/24/12 at 10:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by timbits on 09/24/12 at 11:07 PM ET

Bettman isn’t exactly curing pellagra.

But sure, I’m certain there’s some overlap between the anti-Semite and hockey fan demographics. To what extent do you think it’s an issue? Care to name any names or is it just a more-general shot to anybody who has a problem with Bettman to prove they’re not a bigot?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/24/12 at 10:26 PM ET


To what extent do you think it’s an issue?

By no means is everyone who opposes Bettman a bigot. I only suggest that those who focus on his manner, characteristics and cultural view of hockey possibly have bigoted views. You cannot ignore anti-jewish sentiment in North America and I don’t understand how irrational some get about him unless there is something else at work.

Posted by timbits on 09/24/12 at 11:09 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I only suggest that those who focus on his manner, characteristics and cultural view of hockey possibly have bigoted views.

I get you. I don’t particularly like many of his mannerisms either, but I wouldn’t characterize those as necessarily Jewish traits. I think a lot of the irrational hatred for him comes simply from not knowing that much about where exactly he stands in relation to the NHL and buying a lot of the vitriol.  The whole concept that “Bettman hates Canada” is pretty solidly ingrained in a lot of people’s minds, as is the idea that he’s directly caused three lockouts.  The truth is somewhere WAY central of the rhetoric, but it’s easy to have a scapegoat.

Like I said, I’m sure there’s some overlap, but I’d look to blame simple ignorance more (although ignorance is also a key ingredient in bigotry as well, so there’s that).

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/24/12 at 11:26 PM ET


So why all the recent talk about Jewish holidays and Jewish Lawyers?

This is from today’s Toronto Star. Why the focus on Yom Kippur other than the need to insert it into the story.

There are a few impediments to meaningful talks in the next two days. Tuesday evening marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday that forbids work until Wednesday evening. Bettman and Fehr are Jewish.

Their non-Jewish lieutenants can, of course, work, but the bigger impediment is the starting point for talks. The NHL has made it clear it wants major rollbacks in the first year of any new deal. The players are willing to surrender future earnings, but have held the line on keeping what they have in year one.

This quote is from Deadspin Sept 14, 2012

there’s the conceit that only “insiders,” steeped in lore and custom, know what it takes to make it work on and off the ice. And in the darker corners of barrooms and the internet, there’s the contingent that simply doesn’t like a Jewish lawyer…period.

Today’s Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

Daly said Sunday he expected things to be quiet for the next 24 to 48 hours in deference to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which began at sundown.

Posted by timbits on 09/24/12 at 11:34 PM ET


although ignorance is also a key ingredient in bigotry as well, so there’s that).

I agree!

Posted by timbits on 09/24/12 at 11:39 PM ET


OK one more, this from Sept.18 London Free Press about a Junior Coach tweet.

Chatham Maroons assistant coach is taking heat online for an anti-Semitic message on Twitter about NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

The message - “I wanna punch that greasy #Jew Bettman right in the jejunum” - was posted Friday on Kyle O’Neil’s Twitter account.

Posted by timbits on 09/24/12 at 11:49 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Well, Jewish holidays will factor into the negotiations the same as Christian holidays would if it becomes an issue, but Kyle O’Neil’s tweet there is just awful.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/24/12 at 11:55 PM ET

dougie's avatar

I have a rule of thumb about the Internet. If I really want to hit the send button BADLY, I make myself wait 24 hours to make sure I have the proper perspective.

Right now, I am wanting to use my new-found KK ability to screen out specific posters, BADLY.

It ain’t you, JJ

Posted by dougie on 09/25/12 at 07:24 AM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

Sure, don’t look at his body of work over the past 18 years of being commissioner, pull out the ‘racist card’ and blame it on that - it’s the thing to do these days!

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 09/25/12 at 07:38 AM ET


Posted by timbits on 09/25/12 at 12:49 AM ET

So you find a racist and two people who mention that Bettman is Jewish because it is relevent to the reason why there won’t be meetings that day and now everyone hates him because they’re racist?

If it’s racism then why don’t they hate Don Fehr since, as one of the quotes that you yourself posted, he is also Jewish?

I question the irrational and visceral hatred some people hold for Bettman.

You don’t?  How about the fact that he’s positioned himself as the face of the league?  Why is it irration to hate the man who has been in charge of the league for THREE work stoppages?  To hate the guy who was the face of the NHL’s “f*ck you” first proposal to the PA?

I don’t understand how irrational some get about him unless there is something else at work.

I don’t understand how anyone who loves hockey can look at the situation and see hatred of a guy with his track record as being irrational.

Since the 1994-95 there have been teams that changed owners, there’s been massive player turnover, there’s been PA leadership turnover but there’s been one constant, and that is the head of the NHL, the guy who keeps deciding to lock the players out in order to bully them.

But yeah, it’s got to be racism, right?

Posted by Garth on 09/25/12 at 10:06 AM ET


Heck, even the people who are racists probably only have that racism at 3rd or 4th on their list of reasons they hate the guy.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/25/12 at 10:26 AM ET


Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/25/12 at 11:26 AM ET


Posted by Garth on 09/25/12 at 11:13 AM ET

dougie's avatar

Seventh, actually.

Posted by dougie on 09/25/12 at 11:59 AM ET


I don’t like Bettman’s mannerism, but it has nothing to do with his religion. He has certain annoying ticks (like the way he bobs his head when he talks) that makes his mannerism annoying. He also has this annoying habit of shutting down the league every time a new CBA is needed. I think he relishes being booed at this point.

The question I want answered is how do you determine Bettman’s worth? Comparing the major 4 sports leagues:
Bettman $8 million/year NHL revenues $3.3 B
Goodel $11 million/year NFL revenues $11B
Stern $10 million/year NBA revenues $3.8B
Selig $18.4 million/year MLB revenues $7B

So his salary is well in line with the other major sports if you look at the revenue generated; especially the NBA.  I tried to use the related revenue as reported by each of the leagues. So the NBA shows only $3.8B of BRR which I thought was low compared to the NHL which is often looked down on as the fourth sport. Guess media perception is key, since the NHL is always portrayed as a niche sport.

Since the NHL likes to compare themselves to the NBA,  when you look at the 50/50 split with the NBA and the NHL you also have to take into account that NBA rosters have only 13 players and NHL rosters are 23 players (while the NFL is a whopping 55 and baseball 25). So although there is currently a greater share for NHL players, you have a lot more guys to share the revenue split than in the NBA as well.  What shocked me is that for all the talk about the NHL being the last of the big four, it isn’t so far behind.  The idea that they should be on the verge of another lost season is mind boggling.

Stern’s compensation is all over the board, some sites report 20 to 23 million/year. Much like the NFL’s revenue which I have seen reported as high as as high as $30B.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/25/12 at 01:57 PM ET

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