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Time To Say Good-Bye To Bettman

from Ken Gray of the Ottawa Citizen,

Look, I’m a big fan of journalist/businessman Mark Sutcliffe and his column Sports Ink in the Citizen. Don’t get me wrong.

Sutcliffe and I might not agree on everything (remember your Canadian Tire column, Mark?), but you have to like his entrepreneurism and contribution to this community.

That said, I didn’t agree with his Sports Ink column on Sunday. I’m not as big a supporter of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman as Sutcliffe, not at all.

Bettman has orchestrated a league that has absolutely glorified violence to the point where the players are being irreparably harmed. Concussions from head hits and fighting would have normal business owners concerned. Sutcliffe would do something about it in his workplace. The pads are too hard. Bettman should have acted.

Furthermore, the game is basically flawed.

continued

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

Comments

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I think he is to blame for global warming, the Taliban and Aids too!

Posted by timbits on 08/02/11 at 11:33 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Posted by timbits on 08/02/11 at 09:33 AM ET

Trying to understand your angle here, what’s your take timmy?

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 08/02/11 at 11:40 AM ET

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Did they hire an amateur blogger for a day or something? What a miserably written “article.”

Bettman has made his fair share of mistakes in the past. But you can’t deny that the NHL has undergone a renaissance in the last six years, and is better than it always has been.

What a nimrod. I’m getting annoyed just thinking about the plethora of holes in his discussions.

Posted by Eros on 08/02/11 at 11:46 AM ET

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A laughably inept article.  Clearly the author hasn’t done any research to back up his points.  Next!

Posted by Eric on 08/02/11 at 11:59 AM ET

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Trying to understand your angle here, what’s your take timmy?

This article tries to blame him for every “inconceivable” thing, I thought I would add a couple to the list.

Posted by timbits on 08/02/11 at 12:05 PM ET

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Based on what Paul posted, I was hesitant to go ahead and read the rest of the article…seeing as it was likely terrible. I went ahead and did it anyway… what a waste of time. its not even worth arguing any of his “points”

Posted by pstumba on 08/02/11 at 12:06 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar

Quite a ridiculous piece.  I am no fan of Bettman, but he’s not to blame for everything.  The game is flawed because the players are too big and fast?  And clearly that’s Bettman’s fault since he was the mastermind of the super-human serum that he secretly placed in the water supply 25 years ago that’s just now creating his race of massive, strong, fast hockey players. 

If this guy thinks that “Bettman has orchestrated a league that has absolutely glorified violence”, he must have never watched hockey in the 70’s, 80s or early 90s.

Posted by Ajax19 on 08/02/11 at 12:10 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Damn, even as an avid supporter of the Bettman’s-gotta-go cause, this isn’t exactly the kind of article I’m cutting out of the newspaper and putting on the clubhouse bulletin board.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/02/11 at 12:15 PM ET

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Oh Paul, please don’t link to Ken Gray again. He’s an embarrassment to Ottawa.

Posted by dzuunmod on 08/02/11 at 12:27 PM ET

cs6687's avatar

What is Bettman’s Corsi rating?

Posted by cs6687 on 08/02/11 at 12:33 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

What is Bettman’s Corsi rating?

Ba-hahahahaha! Brilliant! smile

Regarding the article, Mr.Gray is right.
Changes need to be made to make the game safer.
Force the players to wear shoulder and elbow pads from the 70’s and early 80’s.

And it would have been great if the league forced all new buildings to put in a 200x100 ice sheet.
The players are so big and fast now, there’s barely any room.
It’s the accidental hits that cause the most damage.

Regarding fighting, I know it’s a very unpopular opinion, and I’m fully prepared to be blasted, but it’s time we banned it.

Like Dave Shutlz said, the players are too big and strong, and fight-prepared these days.
In his day, he said none of the top goons trained for fighting. You just fought.
Nowadays, guys are taking boxing and MMA lessens in order to hone their craft.
Heavyweights 20 years ago were barely 200lbs and threw short hockey punches.
Guys are 250+ now and know how to throw a deadly punch.
More and more goons are becoming seriously hurt and guys like Probie, Kordic and Boogard have shown us that concussions sustained from fighting can have a serious psychological effect.

I know fighting is entertaining, but I don’t think that it adds any more value than that.
It’s not like guys are intimidated anymore. Especially when you realize that goons only fight goons.
For the safety of the game and it’s players, the league needs to look getting rid of hard-capped shoulder/elbow pads and removing fighting.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/02/11 at 12:40 PM ET

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Not a Bettman fan at all, but when the NHLPA decides certain equipment is too dangerous it will be banned without question.

LArger rinks work for Olympic hockey among the top 5 or six teams in the World. Use that same sheet of ice when Winnipeg and Panthers play and you will have two more franchises fold by season end. Put the red line back in and just slow the play down a fraction.

The goon is already becoming an endangered species. When no one will fight the MMA trained fighter he becomes useless and we’ve already seen the rise and fall of the mega goon. They fight each other or no one. It is too bad that they are at the short end of the stick in terms of injuries.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 08/02/11 at 01:06 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I know fighting is entertaining, but I don’t think that it adds any more value than that.
It’s not like guys are intimidated anymore. Especially when you realize that goons only fight goons.
For the safety of the game and it’s players, the league needs to look getting rid of hard-capped shoulder/elbow pads and removing fighting.

I know we all get tired of the “dump the instigator rule” argument, but I think its a fair point that you can’t really have fighting and an instigator rule.  Fighting used to be about keeping the other team’s goons off of your star players.  I enjoyed watching Brad May when he was on the Wings two years ago, but its hard for me to remember one fight he had that wasn’t staged with another goon.

I say if we are going to have fighting in the NHL, than the NHL needs to have room within the rules for the likes of Probert or Grimson.  If not, just do away with fighting. I think the Datsyuk/Perry fight was the last time I saw a real fight break out that was two goons racking up penalty minutes for kicks.

As for the commissioner, I have to agree with Ken Grey about the “sunbelt experiment.”  Its a failure.  Of the teams south of the Mason-Dixon line, only Tampa and Carolina appear to be robust organizations.  Even Dallas, a one time cup winner, is in financial straights.  It embarrassing for the NHL in the face of other sports leagues to be constantly contracting because teams that never should have existed are failing right and left.

I think the one biggest place player safety could be improved upon would be allowing defenseman to interfere again.  I watched a Wings game from the nineties last week, and it was amazing how much better the game was then (as far as I’m concerned).  The game was more physical (but less dangerous), and it was more of a shooters game.  Lets go back to those days.  I’d rather see a Shanahan style one-timer from the face off dot, than the crappy tip-in (I’ll say it) Holmstrom-esque goals we see today.

As far as the TV contract goes, I’ll hand that one to the commish.  It took some real cohones to tell ESPN to f/o and go with NBC/Versus/OLN.  If this NBC deal reaches its full potential it could be a bigger deal for the NHL than the Gretzky to LA trade. 

Finally, as much as I hate the salary cap, the benefits of league parity since the lockout are hard to dispute.  I just wish Bettman was more of a hockey guy and understood a little more about the game.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/02/11 at 01:22 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

wasn’t two goons racking up penalty minutes for kicks.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/02/11 at 01:24 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Not a Bettman fan at all, but when the NHLPA decides certain equipment is too dangerous it will be banned without question.

100% agree. NHLPA needs to take care of their own.
I wonder if this is the reason why the NHL isn’t fighting harder for safer equipment?
They might think “If the players don’t care, why should we?”
I saw a segment about the equipment on Sportsnet(?) where Kris King (the dude in charge of this stuff) said they’ve been fighting with the PA for years just to add a layer of soft foam over the hardcaps of the shoulder pads.

Mike Richards complained that if they went to 100% soft caps we’d see a lot more shoulder injuries.
Brendan Shanahan argues that maybe that’s the point. If you’re throwing such vicious hits to the point that your shoulders are separating, maybe those hits don’t belong in the game.
Hitting was established to remove puck from player, not head from player.

LArger rinks work for Olympic hockey among the top 5 or six teams in the World. Use that same sheet of ice when Winnipeg and Panthers play and you will have two more franchises fold by season end. Put the red line back in and just slow the play down a fraction.

Hard to argue this point. I’d still like to see it experimented with.
Exhibition games are almost useless these days. Why not use them for experimenting on new ideas.
One night, put a number of games on Olympic surfaces.
The next night, have all the games feature no blue-lines (once you gain the redline, you’re in the offensive zone).

With a large sample of 4+ games being played on Olympic ice we should get a fairly decent look at how games will look featuring a wide variety of styles.
I’m sure a Wings-Canucks game will look a lot different than a Jets-Panthers game.  But at least we’d have some data to realize if it’s a good idea or not.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/02/11 at 01:28 PM ET

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Mason-Dixon line, only Tampa and Carolina

and Washington Capitals (but pre-Bettman expansion). Even they were floundering when they sucked. Good teams draw, bad teams don’t.

Mike Richards complained that if they went to 100% soft caps we’d see a lot more shoulder injuries.

May just prove the Flyers traded him because he is an idiot. Putting foam over a hard cap doesn’t make the insulated hard cap any less protective, just less of a weapon.

Exhibition games are almost useless these days

True, but you would displace high paying seats that they force the season ticket holder to purchase when shifting to Olympic ice. One of the best views I ever had was at Sal Lake Olympics, where my feet rested essentially even with the dasher at the top of the boards since they rmoved about 5 rows to go Olympic size. These arethe most valuabel single seats in the house. When moving from the Forum to the Molson center, my seats remained in row C at ice level, but rows AA - DD were added to increase revenue, so I know how much teams are unwilling to give up the ice side seats. Gilbert Perrault was responsible for a whole extra row in the smaller Aud in Buffalo just to capitalize on the extra seating.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 08/02/11 at 02:43 PM ET

Alan's avatar

In fact, you could probably put a NHL club in Dawson City and draw better than Atlanta

News flash, *#$%@&. Dawson City has less than 1500 residents. Atlanta was drawing far more than that.

Atlanta had it’s problems, and while this isn’t the place to debate whether the city was suitable for hockey (although various people throughout hockey still believe it is), throwing out a ridiculous town like Dawson City in an effort to make an analogy is the penchant of an awful journalist.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 08/02/11 at 04:35 PM ET

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@Alan: I hate to defend Ken Gray, but are you familiar with the rhetorical devices of sarcasm and hyperbole?

Posted by dzuunmod on 08/02/11 at 04:37 PM ET

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The people who truly understand the dynamics of the game and its economics understand Bettman is hardly to blame for the points made by Ken Gray.  Comparitively, with the NBA in lockout mode and MLB xperiencing declining tv ratings and attendance, the NHL seems to be on solid footing. Only the NFL is a truly successful league but that has as much to do with the game’s cultural relevance to Americans along the lines of soccer’s relevance to Brazilians or Italians and hockey to Canadians.

Posted by Lance from Milwaukee on 08/02/11 at 05:08 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The people who truly understand the dynamics of the game and its economics understand Bettman is hardly to blame for the points made by Ken Gray.  Comparitively, with the NBA in lockout mode and MLB xperiencing declining tv ratings and attendance, the NHL seems to be on solid footing.

Not to be a dick because you’re half-right, but while Bettman is hardly to blame for a lot of what Ken Gray said, he’s hardly to credit for the NBA in lockout mode and the declining MLB ratings either.

The main problem is that Bettman is a businessman.  Not all of his decisions have been horrible, nor have they all been great, but they have all been what he thought was in the game’s best financial interests.  The league does need a guy like that (although I would prefer a guy with less of a Napoleon complex who tends to lie to prospective owners slightly less).  However, what’s in the game’s best financial interests tends not to intersect very heavily with what’s in the best interests of the soul and the competitive spirit of the game.  Bettman has done a lousy job of tending to what makes hockey the sport it is in the interest of making hockey as profitable as can be. 

As a basic tenet, I root for the NHL to make money.  However, That is based on the fact that I enjoy watching it and don’t want to see it fold.  That’s as far as my rooting interest for the financials of the game goes.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/02/11 at 07:50 PM 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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