from mbrodsky at of St. Louis JewishLight,
In the late 1960s, Gary Bettman would finish classes at his Queens high school, take the subway to Madison Square Garden and whip out his student ID card to land a ticket for 50 cents to a New York Rangers game. He’d sit in the arena doing his homework until the game began and he could cheer on favorite players like Rod Gilbert and Eddie Giacomin.
Though the Rangers were a storied hockey club, Bettman was drawn to the newer franchises.
Growing up in a single-parent home, “I didn’t have the passing on of [fandom from] generation to generation that a lot of kids did, so I would tend to gravitate toward expansion teams so I would have instant history,” Bettman, the National Hockey League’s commissioner, told JTA in a telephone interview from his Manhattan office.
“At the time, I didn’t realize what I was doing. As I reflect back on it, it makes sense.”
On Feb. 1, Bettman will mark his 22nd year as NHL commissioner, his longevity trailing that of only five others — including ex-NBA chief David Stern — in the annals of America’s four top sports leagues. Stern had hired Bettman at the National Basketball Association more than a decade before Bettman took the reins of the hockey league.
On Thursday, Bettman, 62, was recognized by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America with the Louis Marshall Award — the first time the New York institution has bestowed the honor for “exemplary ethics and communal commitment” on a sports figure.