Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: gary bettman
Paul noted that ESPN's Pierre LeBrun tossed off a set of "Rumblings" with Olympic ramifications--and, "Lemme tell ya, kids, them Russkies are gonna be furious that the IIHF won't let them revise their rosters until right before the 'Perfect Olympics'"--and LeBrun's comments were made in parallel with TSN's latest epsiode of Insider Trading. LeBrun, Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie touched on a set of topics that included some bona-fide trade talk and this intriguing topic:
Commissioner Gary Bettman talked about expansion and said nothing was imminent. What is happening?
McKenzie: Bettman said there was no formal process in place but you have to believe there may be an informal process that is in the works. We know the NHL wants to get to 32 teams, the question is when it could happen. The absolute earliest you could add teams to the NHL would be the 2015-2016 season, just less than two years away. The league needs a one-year lead time on that, therefore if anything is happening, it will escalate over the next ten months.
Guaranteed that the sold-out Outdoor Classic in Ann Arbor will be one of the biggest feather in Gary Bettman's cap; if not the biggest.
-Stan Fischler of the Fischler Report where you can read more hockey notes.
George here on the late shift.
The Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek sat down with Gary Bettman a week ago Thursday in New York, and he used what I can only describe as a delightful chat with Chairman Mao as his weekly notebook. It appears that the Chairman is just as prickly in person as he is when engaging in press conferences and conference calls, as this exchange about Bettman's power to eliminate fighting from the game sans approval from the Board of Governors illustrates:
Bettman: I can ban smoking in this office and I can make that unilateral decision. I don’t make the [game’s] rules. I don’t have unilateral decision-making authority and there are people on both sides of the discussion that are very well dug in on their positions. That’s a discussion, as with all elements of the game, that we’ll continue to have internally and the game will continue to evolve.
Duhatschek: Do you a personal opinion about it?
Duhatschek: Would you care to share it?
Bettman: No. And it’s probably not what anybody thinks or has been speculated. There are people here that know, but anyone who has speculated doesn’t know.
The chat covers player safety, expansion, the CBA, broadcasting rights and the NHL's digital presence, and it isn't exactly revelatory, but it's...an intriguing read.
Excerpted from Dream Job
by Richard Pettie at the Globe and Mail,
What I have noticed is that newspapers love to run photos that cast Gary Bettman in a dark light. If they can make him look bad, they will. By 2013, he had been commissioner for twenty years. He is not a basketball guy – he is now a hockey guy, and he knows and loves the sport. Canadian media and fans are really down on him.
I read and hear the ugly things they say about him in letters to the editor or online comments or on talk radio. Yet Gary soldiers through. He gets it much worse than I ever did.
When he was badly booed while presenting the Stanley Cup in Vancouver, I immediately emailed him and apologized for the boorish behaviour of the Vancouver fans. Perhaps some of them were the same ones who rushed out and trashed the city after the game. I also found the way that Gary has been interviewed by Ron MacLean unacceptable (I’m thinking especially of the now infamous June 2010 exchange on Hockey Night in Canada, which was both vitriolic and confrontational). I guarantee that none of the NFL or NBA rights holders in the United States would ever treat a league commissioner that way. If CBC-TV loses its Canadian TV rights, that interview – it was an attack, really – might well factor in the league’s decision.
If he feels threatened by you, Gary Bettman may do something to hurt you, and he has many ways to do that: national broadcast deals, how many games he gives the CBC, the venue for the All-Star game, the venue for the annual outdoor game, another franchise coming into your territory.
For those of you unfamiliar with the CBC outside of Hockey Night in Canada, Peter Mansbridge, host of The National, is kind of like Tom Brokaw and Walter Kronkite wrapped into one, an incredibly, incredibly respected broadcaster, and when he sits down with people on Canada's nightly newscast, it's a big deal.
Mansbridge sat down with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday, and he did indeed confront the commissioner with the John Scott-David Clarkson scrap, the place of fighting and "the code," expansion and, well, probably some stuff they'll talk about on a later date...
Bettman also happened to speak on the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada radio show today...
More for the Canadian folks who are KK followers...
Gary Bettman on HC@Noon to discuss the latest progress with respect to the league and National television rights, and the goal to get national viewers to consume NHL content across all platforms.
According to SportsBusiness Journal's Christopher Botta, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's compensation did not take a hit due to the six-month-long owners' lockout in 2012. Instead, Botta reports that Bettman received a modest raise leading up to the lockout:
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s salary and benefits climbed to more than $8 million for the 2011-12 season, the most recent full season prior to the 2012-13 lockout, according to the league’s newly available tax filing.
Bettman received more than $8.3 million in salary and benefits during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. His total compensation the previous year was $7.98 million.
from Steven Marcus of Newsday,
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, echoing Islanders owner Charles Wang's comments last week, said he would like the Islanders to leave for their new home in Brooklyn "as soon as possible," but said the team is prepared to play out its lease, which expires after the 2014-2015 season.
"I'd like to see them in the newer building as soon as possible," said Bettman, speaking at the Associated Press Sports Editors commissioners meeting," but I believe the Islanders -- not believe, I know -- they're prepared to fulfill their obligations under their burdensome lease. If Nassau County was inclined to let them go earlier I know they would go."...
"If you talked to [general manager] Garth Snow and Charles Wang, they will tell you that their ability to get free agents was impacted by the fact that why would you want to play in that arena 41 times a year when you can go to other places."
Barclays will address some hockey related issues, Bettman said.
from Darren Rovell, with CNBC (now ESPN) on 12/31/08,
DR: How do you bottle this up? It's a catch-22 because you have it and then people start saying Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park. Let's do this 15 times a year.
Gary Bettman: Well, 15 times a year would probably take away its uniqueness.
DR: So how much can you do it?
GB: We've been focused on one a year. I think more than that, two would be the limit. But I’m not even focusing on doing it more than one. There is no shortage a of interest. We've had at least a dozen clubs say “we would love to do this in our market -- our fans would just absolutely love it.” Last we played in a football stadium, this year in Wrigley Field. To play the Bridgestone Winter Classic in a stadium that is almost 100 years old that's had virtually every event except, until now, a hockey game.
Patrick Burke and Gary Bettman were on CNN this morning to discuss the You Can Play initiative.
If you want more of the Phoenix talk, Cotsonika now has an article up on it at Yahoo.
It’s incumbent on NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to score big in Canada, because his timing for the U.S. national package likely produced a deal that is now below market. Why? Since negotiations began with NBC on the eventual 10-year, $2-billion deal in 2011, both CBS and Fox have launched national sports channels to compete with ESPN and the NBC fledgling NBC Sports Channel.
Properties of all kinds are getting ridiculous money from these startups to fill their rosters. The NHL could definitely have used this to sweeten its own pot had they come into the market 18 months later. Not criticizing, just saying that timing is everything in showbiz.
-Bruce Dowbiggin at the Globe and Mail.
Both men sound as if they are on the same page, a good start if you want the NHL to participate in the Sochi Olympics.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
“He’s the little guy from New York who came from basketball,” said (Bruce) McNall. “If he was packaged a different way, it would be a whole different ballgame. He tends to get a little bit of the raw end of the deal because of that alone.
“Remember Gary is ultimately responsible to the owners and they are going to ultimately dictate what he does and doesn’t do. In the case of the lockout, remember a very small handful of teams made any money the last several years. Even the Kings didn’t make any money, even winning the Cup. So there wasn’t a lot of motivation for the owners – other than in the Canadian cities and a handful of the East Coast teams – to want to play. It was almost cheaper to lock the doors.
“So getting a 10-year deal, they were looking for a long-term deal to get something to stabilize things for the long term. Sad as it is, that’s the nature of the beast – and therefore, I think he accomplished the job they were looking for. In a way, it’s easy to blame Gary because fans only look to what they know and what they see. Either it’s greedy players – and they can’t understand why they’re making millions of dollars and it’s never enough – or it’ll be greedy owners – and they’re making millions of dollars and that’s never enough. I think it’s too simplistic to look at it that way. I think he did a pretty good job in all that.”
more on Bettman plus more hockey topics...
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
There will be no cake with 20 little wafer hockey sticks or stick-shaped sparklers or 20 little licorice pucks to mark this day.
Did you really expect NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to mark his 20th anniversary on the job in such an ostentatious manner?
"I don't typically dwell on those types of things," Bettman told ESPN.com this week.
And so instead of a grand celebration of two decades as commissioner of the most unique if not difficult of pro sports leagues to manage, we start instead with a bathroom story.
Brian Burke went to work for Gary Bettman in the old league offices in Manhattan in the fall of 1993, a few months after Bettman took office as commissioner.
One day Burke went into the bathroom and found Bettman picking up paper towels from the floor. Burke joked with his boss that there was actually someone whose job it was to look after that mess. Bettman whirled on Burke and asked him if he knew what time that person started work.
No. Burke did not know.
That person came in after 5 p.m., and so until that time, anyone who came into the league office to do business with the NHL was going to use this bathroom and he was going to find it clean, Bettman explained.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Bettman’s era has brought some important positive changes to the league. Revenues have quintupled in size and player payrolls followed suit. The NHL played a series of regular-season games in Europe and Japan, broadening its global appeal. It created the successful Winter Classic, the annual outdoor game played on Jan. 1 that has caught the imagination of the U.S. TV viewing public. Television revenues have grown significantly as have league sponsorship deals. He helped stabilize wobbly franchises in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa through the Canadian currency-assistance program and enabled Minnesota and Winnipeg to get their franchises back.
Still, Bettman’s legacy will be forever coloured by the rancour and animosity of three lockouts. During the second, in 2004-05, the NHL became the only major professional sports league to lose an entire season to a labour dispute. So in spite of salary growth, many players regard him as a villain.
“The hockey has grown a lot in every which way so I think for the most part, he has been very successful – and obviously, we all appreciate that,” said the Anaheim Ducks’ Teemu Selanne, one of only a handful to play during Bettman’s entire reign.
“We – the players – are very lucky to have the lifestyle that we have. But if you ask any player, nobody’s happy that he also had three work stoppages. Obviously, that’s the only minus we are looking at from his part.”
from Tom Hoffarth of the LA Daily News,
Would anyone in attendance Saturday have showered recycled trash upon Bettman had he showed his face on the ice during Saturday's presentation, one in which Kings Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller was the master of ceremonies, every Kings player was introduced and handed a Tiffany ring, the Stanley Cup with all their names engraved on it was brought out and then passed around one more time and a ginormous banner was rolled out and then floated up into the rafters above the Kings bench?
Bettman would've been welcome to the party. He could have popped out of a cake, thrown confetti in the air and done doughnuts on the Zamboni.
But apparently it was too much of a risk for Little Man Hate.
from Stu Hackel of the Red Light,
With his expression of sorrow for the lockout he engineered, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman hopes to turn the page and put the focus of the fans, players, sponsors and media back on the ice where, he said, the attention belongs.
What he stopped short of expressing was a pledge that he would commit to working with the NHLPA to find a way of preventing anything like what we just went through from happening again.
Addressing the players, the league’s business partners, and the fans, he said, “I know that an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the past few months, but I owe you apology, nevertheless.” It was a nice sentiment, but if he really wanted to erase the hard feelings, the best thing he could have done was make some sort of statement that this third lockout was wrong for the sport, that it was too damaging and the league was committed to finding a better way of fixing problems in its labor relations.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
If fans had their way, Gary Bettman would be gone. Short of that, he would never award the Stanley Cup again. Following his third lockout as commissioner of the National Hockey League, they don't want another chance to boo him. They would rather not see another of his fingerprints left on what they consider sacred.
But if the lockout has reminded us of anything, it's that it doesn't matter what fans think of Bettman. It matters what the owners think. And so, when the NHL's board of governors ratifies the new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday in New York, it would be fascinating to hear the feedback Bettman gets from his bosses behind closed doors. If only we could.
Not everyone is happy with Bettman himself or the deal itself. Not by a long shot. This negotiation took too long and turned too ugly, and this CBA might not solve the league's underlying problems in the long run.
Still, in conversations with top officials from both high- and low-revenue teams over the past two days, amid all the rancor and rumors about Bettman and his future, the commissioner continued to receive support. It could be the opinions of these particular people. It could be spin. But there it was.
The hockey experts at Sportsnet take a look at Gary Bettman.
from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,
Monday marks the 100th day of Gary Bettman’s Unnecessary Lockout. Are we having fun yet, kiddies?
At this point, we’re hoping for a shutdown. Blow it up and start over, without a half-dozen dead-weight teams and the man Larry Brooks calls the Canceler-in-Chief, because if Bettman announces the cancellation of a second full season, he should announce his own resignation at the same time.
If the deal you killed a season to get was so bad that you had to kill another entire season to get a different deal, then I’m sorry, but you’re an idiot. If the owners have a shred of intestinal fortitude, they’ll tell Bettman not to let the door hit him on the way out.
Because Gary Bettman has done the impossible: He’s made it look like the NHL would have been better off with Gil Stein.
more hockey notes...
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Everyone on the ice gets it. If a player doesn’t, if he repeatedly errs, he is out of the league. It is impossible to win on a consistent basis or on a grand scale without respect for the risk and reward equation that serves as the fundamental principle in every winning NHL locker room.
Yet, they are unable to compute this elementary fact of life in the boardroom on Sixth Avenue that serves as headquarters for Canceler-in-Chief Gary Bettman and his scrambled vision of hockey, in which he is willing to throw the figurative puck up the middle over and over again with only the faintest hope of connecting.
Bettman is willing to take the monumental risk of canceling yet another season as opposed to the meager rewards of limiting players to seven-year contracts and refusing transition rules that might cost NHL owners comparative pennies weighed against the cost of the second canceled season in the last eight years of his regime.
This is a man, quite frankly, who would first be shown the bench by Rangers coach John Tortorella, then scratched, then placed on waivers by Blueshirts general manager Glen Sather for the purpose of a buyout.
For Bettman is not an individual with whom a team can achieve success. He is not an individual who can be relied upon to see the entire rink, to process the big picture, to recognize that the business of hockey is not personal.
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
It’s just such a sick joke now, this lockout. It really is. Is Gary Bettman not the most tiresome person in the world by now? Gary no doubt about it will enjoy a nice, comfy Christmas at his Saddle River, N.J., home – the same town where Richard Nixon lived out his final years. The rest of us have to remain living in his Captain Queeg-ish nightmare of a hockey world, where he’s circling the steel balls in his hand, wondering who ate the strawberries. (I stole that analogy from the great Michael Farber, my friend and mentor from Sports Illustrated. Always steal from the best)....
Bad management. Yep. Of course, it’s not Bettman who is to all to blame for the NHL’s financial problems. The bulk of blame, of course, goes to the confederacy of dunces known as the NHL owners. But that’s tired ground by now. After all, hasn’t everybody pointed out the stupidity and hypocrisy of idiots like Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, who signed two players to a combined 26 years and $196 million in salary over the summer – but now is part of a cabal shutting down the game partially over the length of contracts for players? It’s a joke, right? Right? Guy signs two players for 13 years each at $98 million apiece, then sanctions a lockout principally over salaries and contract lengths? HA HA, great one! But no, it’s no joke. Sorry.
But Bettman’s act has grown so tired, in charge of all of them. A more imaginative, resourceful, cerebral, humane, intuitive commissioner would have never let this third lockout on his watch never take place. Instead, we’re all just left with the same “take it or leave it” BS and “Let’s play this move next, and when they play that move, let’s play this move after that, and when they play their next move, we counter with this move and…”
God, isn’t it just so over now for everyone? Honestly. Bettman, my ultimate diagnosis of the man is: he’s fatally stubborn. He can’t seem to admit ever making a mistake, which will do everyone in eventually. Take his stewardship of the Phoenix Coyotes, for instance. Please.
from Jonathan Mahler of Bloomberg,
In case you missed the latest news - - the National Hockey League has a hard enough time getting people to pay attention when games are actually being played -- Commissioner Gary Bettman went nuclear last week, filing a lawsuit against his own players.
The suit was intended in part to affirm the legality of the NHL’s ongoing lockout. We’ll have to wait for a federal judge to rule on that. What we can safely say now, with his league about to lose its second full season in less than a decade, is that Bettman is the most inept commissioner in North American professional sports.
Bettman wants to eliminate signing bonuses, cut the salary cap, increase time in the league required before free agency and set the maximum duration of contracts at five years. By one economist’s estimate, these proposals would reduce the average player’s wages by 15 percent to 20 percent.
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."
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.
from John Brennan of NorthJersey.com,
Wrapping up our five-part series on the depositions of the czars whose sports leagues are suing New Jersey to try to prevent sports betting at the state’s casinos and racetracks, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had his turn on Nov. 19.
During a couple of hours of testimony, Bettman echoed similar themes to his colleagues’ depositions – gambling is the most pernicious scourge out there because it can create a perception of “fixed” games; no specific studies have been done on this because it is self-evident; the leagues would prefer that Nevada didn’t have sports betting, either, but they’ve come to terms with that.
Bettman, whose deposition was released Friday like the others, said the league generally is “connecting” effectively with its fans. Of course, due to the current lockout, “they might be a little cranky, and understandably so”:
Los Angeles-based attorney William Wegner, who questioned Bettman on behalf of the state, then interjected, “Especially in LA, because we finally won the [Stanley] Cup.”
“I’m sorry we haven’t been able to hoist the banner,” Bettman said, adding that he was there and “I didn’t get booed presenting the Stanley Cup.”
added 2:39pm, Watch Bettman present the Cup to Dustin Brown below...
from Stephen Brunt of Sportsnet,
Oh, he was mad all right.
With Gary Bettman, there’s no mistaking it. The tense, twitchy body language, the eyes bulging a bit, the normally scripted public relations speak suddenly sounding like the words of a real live human being. That loss of control doesn’t happen often in public settings, but when it does, the whole world knows the commissioner is peeved. This was special, though, standing at the podium in New York on Thursday night. This was extraordinary.
And for some sitting at home interpreting the National Hockey League lockout as though it were a game or a night of theatre, this was evidence finally, that the lawyer who was the National Basketball Association's gift to hockey finally, really gave a damn about the sport just the way the fans do.
Could be. Could be that Bettman desperately misses all of those nights at the rink. Could be, also, that he doesn’t like the idea of having “Only Sports Commissioner Ever To Lose Two Full Seasons To Owner Lockouts” engraved on his tombstone.
But here’s an alternate explanation.
What set Bettman off was staring across the bargaining table at his mirror image.
The full conference went around 45 minutes including the Q & A, but this video released by the NHL is the first 9 minutes or so.
added 9:38pm, Bill Daly joined by Bettman at times also talked today. Watch the 4 minute video below...
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
So if anyone imagines that what has happened this week will end up seeing Bettman given the bum's rush out of the NHL's New York offices, his briefcase and foam fan finger flying out behind him onto the Avenue of the Americas, they will be sadly mistaken.
In many ways, such discussion is moot given that Bettman is approaching his 20th anniversary as commissioner. Assuming a new deal extends at least six years (does anyone hear 100?), how likely would it be that Bettman would still be at the helm next time around regardless of how this played out?
It may matter to the legion of fans, players and agents that naively blame Bettman for this entire mess. Were that life was that simple. It's not.
Still, as we watch intently for that pinprick of light to grow into something more, something like a real hockey season, it's worth noting that regardless of how we got here and how history will judge the winners and losers, this much is undeniable: while you can argue Gary Bettman is the author of most of this labor darkness, there is no light this week without him.
from George Johnson of the Calgary Herald,
The question now being: Why, oh why, did this take so long? Where was this degree of urgency in October? November?
Honestly, it leaves you shaking your head.
If one night of serious discussion with the right people involved is what was needed to trigger meaningful dialogue, both sides should be ashamed — or at least, more ashamed — at the lost prestige, the lost revenue, the lost loyalty.
By barring commissioner Gary Bettman and the Donald, the main protagonists in this nasty business, from the room on Tuesday, unencumbered by their grating, condescending George and Martha/Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? routine, the initial bargaining session lasted for over five hours.
And if there is — fingers remain crossed here — headway made that ultimately leads to a resolution in this unseemly impasse and gets the league back on the ice by New Year’s at the latest, what earthly use are either of them going forward?
The two sides met, deliberated among themselves, broke for chow, convened again. Exhausted media, long bereft of fresh angles with which to fill space or airtime, hung out hobo-like in the hotel lobby, trying to avoid eye-contact with increasingly suspicious hotel staff (The sight of Donald Fehr furtively working his cellphone being enough to induce spasms of activity and conjecture).
The reason there’s no agreement yet is that Gary Bettman has made promises he can’t keep. And if he doesn’t keep them and loses half an NHL season — or more — in the process, he will be out of a job that pays him $8 million a year.
That’s why there’s been little negotiation from the NHL. That’s why there’s no hockey. And that’s why there won’t be hockey until the owners order Bettman to sit down and negotiate, or a union decertification forces the league to bargain instead of bleed.
See, Bettman promised seven or eight owners that he could get another lopsided deal. If he doesn’t get it after losing a billion dollars in league revenue, he’s probably out of a job.
So Bettman is holding up the game to save himself, and one imagines he’s still convincing a small group of men that he can squeeze more from the players. That small group of owners, in turn, is keeping the arenas silent.
-Barry Rozner of the Chicago Daily-Herald where you can read more on this topic.
from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,
Let’s face the truth, folks: Gary Bettman has become hockey’s worst enemy.
Bettman is now the author of three lockouts and the disastrous expansion into the Sun Belt, egomaniac, a man who would rather destroy the National Hockey League than form a workable partnership with the players. Under his watch, the NHL has already lost more games to labour disruptions than the three other major North American team sports combined — with no end in sight.
This is why we are staring into the face of a winter without NHL hockey. Because Bettman, a pint-sized Grinch with a pea-sized heart, has no passion for the game. He does not like or respect the players, he has no use for the journalists who cover the game, he doesn’t care a fig for the thousands or tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced because of the Bettman lockout.
Above all, Gary Bettman has nothing but contempt for the millions of fans who provide the financial engine that drives the game. Bettman talks about “our wonderful fans” but what he means is “the suckers who keep buying tickets, no matter how badly they are treated.”
continued (subscription required after five articles in 30 days)
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
If Bettman and Fehr legitimately understand anything about the ethic of the game, then they know about the aforementioned price of failure too.
Fail too often, and especially fail too often in the big moment, and soon enough, somebody else will get their turn.
It’s a ruthless, but fair system, when the stakes are so high. Real hockey people would know the rules going in, and accept them for what they are.
So a modest proposal that echoes comments made by the Florida Panthers’ Kris Versteeg about Bettman and the Washington Capitals’ Roman Hamrlik about Fehr and their respective job futures this past week:
If the two leaders are ultimately unable to come to terms on a new CBA in time to save the 2012-13 season, then both should immediately resign from their respective positions when the cancellation becomes official.
And more importantly, they should pledge their willingness to do so, publicly, now, in the third week of November, before all hope is lost.
First Donald Fehr, followed by Gary Bettman.
from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Bettman spoke with the Free Press for just over 30 minutes Sunday morning.
Here's the entire telephone interview.
FREE PRESS: At this moment, where do things stand and what is the gulf between the two sides preventing a deal?
GARY BETTMAN: There seems to be a fundamental disagreement on many of the core issues. We have proposed a 50-50 split of HRR (hockey-related revenue) which has not been agreed to. We have raised issues with respect to how the system works and the adjustments we think need to be made, and there doesn't seem to be agreement or even a willingness to agree on them.
FP: The players say, "We gave to get to 50-50. Why should we give any more? There's nothing in this deal for us." What do you say to that?
GB: Twofold. One, we want to make sure the system works well and continues to work well. There are certain trends and issues that have arisen that we believe need to be adjusted in order for us to have the competitive balance that we want and need to enable us to continue to grow the game. What's in this deal for the players? Give or take $14 billion over the next seven years.
FP: The league has 30 teams. Not all are stable and the league remains in flux. There are franchises that don't work. The players say revenue sharing should fix those problems. But meaningful revenue sharing historically comes from league-wide revenue such as national TV rights, and there's not enough in that pot right now to fix all the league's woes. It's hard to get markets like Toronto, or even Winnipeg for that matter, to subsidize teams like Phoenix or Miami that don't generate substantial gate revenue. Is this the crux of why there is a lockout?
GB: Not completely. It's not wholly inaccurate, but it's more inaccurate than not....
I missed this article yesterday, so in case you missed it...
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Of course, hockey’s trough has been a crowded receptacle, as players lapped up money their owners couldn’t afford to spend, while owners gobbled up expansion money from a bunch of cities whose presence was supposed to ensure that dream American TV contract that floats all the other big sports.
We know now that a sport that is not indigenous to two-thirds of U.S. states never gets that mega American TV deal with. Simply placing franchises in football states like Texas, Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina doesn’t get you football money, a misguided fourth-down gamble that will surely be Commissioner Bettman’s legacy.
Today, Gary has his teams in Nashville, Anaheim, Dallas, Florida, Tampa, Carolina, Columbus, Phoenix and San Jose. But he never got the TV deal to go with them.
Worse yet, the only way to make most of those markets tenable is to revenue share.
And isn’t that rich?
The collective financial losses of sunbelt teams over the years will one day surpass their sum total in expansion fees gobbled up by Original 21 owners. Perhaps they have already.
Today, a lockout based on forging an economy in which the Columbus Blue Jackets can make a profit is killing the game.
from Sean McIndoe at Grantland,
It turns out that the speech Bettman originally wrote for the event was edited at the last minute by a league PR staffer. I've obtained that version. Here's what Bettman really wanted to say that night:
Hi, Gary … I had a chance to look over your prepared remarks for tonight’s Hall of Fame ceremony. Awesome work as always, boss. I hope you don’t mind, but I made a few teeny tiny edits. Hope that’s cool! Deletions are (striked), additions are in bold.
[Walk onstage to
Darth Vader themegeneric music.]
Thank you, James, and good evening,
Tonight the all-time roster of
that sport with the pucks and the ice and no slams dunksthe Hockey Hall of Fame is further enriched by my presencefour remarkable performers. Four legendary scorers. Four outstanding leaders. Who let's be honest, have not aged wellhail from four different parts of the hockey world.
from Jeff MacGregor of ESPN,
And in the whole, long history of disasters and capitalism, has there ever been a bigger disaster than the National Hockey League or its mortician, Gary Bettman? The decommissioner has managed in just 20 years to make the league invisible. An afterthought. An unfunny punch line to a joke no one recalls. By his own accounting, the league is poised on the brink of insolvency. Again. Still. A constant invalid.
Bettman's legacy will be $60 million league "relocation fees," a shell game of mishandled franchises and indifferent cities, ineptitude and cupidity and a National Hockey League too big in fact and too small in the imagination. And a long history of bungled union-busting. On behalf of his owners, whenever the CBA comes up for renewal it has been Bettman's practice to bring a gun to what should be a butter knife fight. And even those fights he loses. The game staggers on. In arenas built by taxpayers.
All due respect to the relevant parties, but any one of us could pick a fan at random out of the stands at an OHL game in Guelph or Kitchener or the 'Soo and find a better head and a better heart to serve the game of hockey.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
The Hockey Hall of Fame is not a church. It just feels like one – the stained-glass ceiling soaring in the Great Hall; the Stanley Cup sitting upon a pedestal, like a chalice upon an altar; the honored members immortalized on frosted-glass plaques, looking like ghosts.
It is tempting to call it "the sanctuary of our game," as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman did Monday night during the ceremony inducting Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin.
Even in difficult times," Bettman said, "we find ourselves reassured to be here to recognize ultimate achievements on the ice
But do you know what the Hockey Hall of Fame really is? It is a converted bank. And do you know what the NHL really is? It is a business, and among the things it sells are nostalgia and sentimentalism. It capitalizes on the reverence of "our game
The lockout taints even that.
Sorry to be so cynical, and sorry to write this on an occasion that should have belonged to the inductees and the inductees alone – Bure's speed, Oates' passing, Sakic's wrist shot, Sundin's backhand.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Even people on Gary Bettman's side no longer know what they're fighting for.
Three league executives contacted Monday all gave the same general answer when we asked why Gary Bettman should care how the players' money gets split up, as long as he gets them to 50-50 with the players.
To a man, the three voices echoed the same sentiment (and we paraphrase): "Get rid of the back-diving contracts, because those work against the spirit of the cap. After that, player contracting rights matter very little to me."
Somehow, commissioner Bettman and his deputy Bill Daly have made it their quest not just to get the players to a 50-50 share of Hockey Related Revenues, but also to dictate when a player can become a free agent, when he qualifies for arbitration, how long he can sign for, what colour his car should be, what he should name his dog…
Bettman wants half the pie for his owners, but also wants to tell the players what kind of ice cream to put on their half. Even people who work with the teams don't see the wisdom in losing games over that, we're starting to learn.
from Jesse Spector of The Sporting News,
With negotiations on hold—Fehr said on Sunday he did not know when talks would resume—Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press reported that Bettman and Daly "are still expected to attend the Hockey Hall of Fame induction."
Sure, why not? Bettman and Daly already have teamed up with their NHLPA counterparts to bring down hockey in the present, and seriously hinder the game's future. Might as well go for the hat trick and spoil a day meant to celebrate the past.
Make no mistake, if Bettman and Daly show up at the Hall of Fame on Monday—a day that is supposed to be about Sakic, Pavel Bure, Adam Oates, and Mats Sundin—they will steal the spotlight. Newspapers and television stations only have so much space and time to devote to hockey, and the presence of the NHL's head honchos would require chronicling at the expense of the Hall of Famers. Even if Bettman and Daly refuse to speak to the media at the ceremony, their no-comments would merit a story.
These men are supposed to be the guardians of hockey, above all else. Even in labor negotiations, as badly as they are going, Bettman and Daly can at least say that they are working in the best interests of hockey, trying to keep the NHL on solid financial footing. Showing up at the Hall of Fame inductions, at a time when they have to know their presence will distract from the celebration, is not in anyone's best interests.
First Bettman folllowed below by Fehr who is expected to talk again after getting off the phone with players, etc.
I will cover that in another post.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Neither NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman nor NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has distinguished himself thus far in terms of charting a course to a successful resolution to the current lockout of the NHL’s players.
Strategies on both sides have been at best curious and at worst deeply flawed.
Were it not so, wouldn’t we have had a deal weeks, even months ago? Or at the very least had leadership plotted differently, would we not have seen the current series of in-depth talks, the first of their kind in the process, take place long ago?
There is no shortage of critics of both men, and all you need to do is take a passing glance at Twitter to get a sense of the underlying anger and disappointment at how this has unfolded.
Without going over every burp and hiccup along the way -- and there have been many ominous noises emanating from both sides in this tedious process -- only the significantly brainwashed believe that blame for the current situation lies more squarely on one side than the other.
from Christopher Botta of SportsBusiness Journal at The Sporting News,
Experienced league-side executives refuse to count out Bettman, no matter how long this third lockout drags on.
Robert Caporale, an alternate governor for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1991-97, said much the same. “Gary has to lead 30 owners who, quite frankly, are not used to being led in their other businesses,” said Caporale, now chairman of Game Plan, the sports and entertainment investment banking and consultant services firm. “Ultimately, this lockout is on the owners and players. If another season is lost, Gary should not be held responsible.”
That’s seen as the case no matter the vitriol toward Bettman in these recent weeks and months. To that end, the NFL and NBA lockouts brought frequent and heavy criticism of Goodell and Stern from the players of those leagues, and while some argue those relationships have not returned to any level of pre-lockout collegiality (particularly in Goodell’s case), all parties have returned to business—whether that means playing the game or managing the operation.
Don Meehan, president of the player representation agency Newport Sports Management, believes NHL players will be civil toward Bettman and continue to promote the league’s brand whenever a new deal is reached.
“I would think that players would be able to put aside their personal feelings and understand that both Gary Bettman and (NHLPA Executive Director) Don Fehr are retained to do a difficult job,” said Meehan, whose agency represents NHL stars Steven Stamkos, Henrik Lundqvist and Jarome Iginla, among others. “In CBA negotiations, there are times when the issues allow one to be emotional and frustrated. But we have to accept and understand that is part of the process. When it is all said and done, we have to have professional respect for each other.”
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Gary Bettman’s lost hockey season is Donald Fehr’s wrecked World Series — legacies that haunt the respective heads of the NHL and Players’ Association.
Forget the record revenue generated last season by an NHL that can claim a salary-cap system and a major network broadcast partner. Pay no mind to the organization and unity that only three years ago was unimaginable to anybody associated with the union.
The Stanley Cup was not awarded in 2005. The World Series was not played in 1994.
Bettman, NHL commissioner since 1993, and Fehr, two years into a tenure as NHLPA executive director but owner of that same position with the baseball Players Association from 1986-2009, are as infamous for what they have lost as much as they are famous for what they have gained for the sports with which they are most associated.
As bleak as things look now there's a good chance he might get the last laugh on his critics.
Perhaps a deal gets signed and in the not too distant future the league's Phoenix mess is a memory, the New York Islanders are selling out the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the NHL returns to full houses in Quebec City and is eagerly anticipating a second team in Southern Ontario.
Hockey could become an established fixture on a burgeoning NBC Sports Network and the players might find themselves richer than they could have ever dreamed, with their 50 per cent (or so) share of a potentially $5-billion revenue pie driving the league's average salary to $3.6 million, more than triple what it was coming out of the 2004-05 lockout.
David Stern is getting out and will be acclaimed for what he's done for the NBA. If Bettman gets out at the right time and the league continues on the path he's put it on his enemies might have to find it in themselves to say something good about him -- even Donald Fehr.
-Michael Grange of Sportsnet where you can read more on this topic.