Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/08/09 at 11:49 AM ET
via Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
If Wayne Gretzky, the single greatest attraction in hockey history, chooses to pass on tomorrow night’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony, what an embarrassment that will be for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his fellow owners.
And what an indictment of the damage remaining from the attempt to salvage the Phoenix Coyotes.
The very fact that the NHL has cut a deal to buy the Coyotes, which has basically excluded Gretzky and the money owed him, may save them a few million dollars in the process but won’t be worth the alienation created with the most important player the game has known. The relationship between Gretzky and the league is the worst it has ever been no matter what rhetoric is spread.
Of all that Bettman has bungled over the years, this may be his largest gaffe from a public relations point of view. Hockey is a hard enough sell in the United States and selling out Gretzky will end up costing them more in the long run than it would have cost them to pay The Great One what he was owed.
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