I’m sure we’ve all had our share of friends or family that have overstayed their welcome. You know, the ones who promise us this will only be a short term visit until they’re ready to move on with their lives? I think now is that time for Gary Bettman. In the 90s he had a vision to expand the NHL into places never thought possible, Phoenix moved from Winnipeg, Florida, Tampa Bay, Nashville etc. However much success those teams have had on the ice, they’ve failed miserably off of it resulting in financial losses culminating into what is now the 3rd lock-out since 1995.
Gary does deserve some credit though. He’s been able to scale back revenue shares & implement a salary cap which ended Bob Goodenow’s reign as the head of NHLPA. Since then, 2 others have been ousted as head of the NHLPA’s union which led to the hiring of an ex MLB PA leader Donald Fehr. It’s been a battle thus far, much to the chagrin of NHL fans everywhere. The owners want a 50/50 share of revenues with major restrictions on player contracts while the NHLPA wants a slower regression in revenue sharing to 50% and less restricted contracts & there seems to be no end in sight.
Gary has trumpeted many times about how he loves the players, the feeling to say the least isn’t mutual. From what we’ve heard, the owners are quite happy with Gary, by keeping him around for this long he has to have done something right. Revenues have skyrocketed, the Winter Classic along with the HBO special leading up to it have been an instant American classic, year in & year out. This led to a $2billion x 10yr NBC deal for the NHL, guaranteeing $200million each year from 1 network to be divied up amongst everyone. Some will say this is Gary’s dealing others might say it’s happened in spite of him. Either way, the NHL couldn’t have been riding higher than it was at the end of the 2012 season.
The problem I have & it happens traditionally every season during the stanley Cup presentation. Gary Bettman strolls across the red carpet to a chorus of deafening boos to the Cup, already shining on the table, picks up the mic & begins to talk about magic, dedication, thanks to the fans etc, etc, etc. In all honesty, if you’re lucky enough to be at the game & not at home watching on TV, you can’t hear him anyway, so what’s the point, Gary? We know who you are & 95% of us don’t care what you have to say & your presentation & public speaking is terrible to listen to. This moment shouldn’t be about you anyway, so instead why not just hang out in the hallway & let a HHOF member who has won a Cup, who has played for the team that won & allow him to present him with the Cup to the winning team because after all, this is supposed to be a celebration for the fans.
Gary, after this CBA is reached & even if the owners decide to keep you around, step aside, especially away from the microphone & out of the public eye. Your character is stale maybe even at no fault of your own that become a target of criticism from fans & players alike, so its time for you to pass the torch. Maybe it’s time to let someone else become that target, besides you will have done your job from an owners standpoint by getting them to from 25% to 50% in just over 20yrs.
Job well done Gary, the league doesn’t need you anymore, goodbye Gary.