Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 12/15/12 at 09:40 PM ET
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
"He's brilliant. He's mastered the breadth of the industry, and it's a broad industry, with lots of detail," said Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke, who was Bettman's top hockey deputy from 1993 to '98.
"He communicates wonderfully with the owners. That's a big part of his job. He's probably on the phone with 10 different owners every day. He was very fair when I worked for him. A born teacher."
But the knowledge and assurance that make Bettman an effective businessman make him an unsympathetic figure to players, fans and those who have emotional investments in the game.
Owners can be reclusive, but Bettman is out front and an easy target. A New Jersey resident who speaks with the accent of his native Queens, Bettman isn't warm and fuzzy. He's sharply intelligent and can come off as cold. Some Canadians resent that he didn't learn the game in Moose Jaw or Toronto and insist he can't have the good of their game at heart.
Bettman declined an interview with The Times, saying he didn't want his comments to affect the labor talks. Those who know him say he has a human side and has been wronged in the court of public opinion.
"I wish Gary was perceived more fairly than he is in Canada because he's a great guy, a brilliant guy, and he's really been good for our league," Burke said. "You have to look at the metrics of this league from when Gary took over to where we are now, and he's been a marvelous commissioner."
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