Saturday, November 17, 2012


Thank you, Ian White. The defenseman from the Detroit Red Wings fired a smart bomb
directed at NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who has presided over three work
stoppages since becoming head of the league in 1993.

"I gotta be honest. I personally think he's an idiot, White said. "Since he's come in, I think
he's done nothing but damage the game."

I'm not in favor of White calling Bettman an "idiot" in the press, but credit him for shaking
up this ridiculous stalemate between the owners and NHL Players Union. At least, White
is making and making it appear like somebody actually cares about what's going on.
More than 300 games have been wiped out already and the lockout has napalmed the
best thing going in the sport, The Winter Classic.

Bettman has one heckuva record when it comes to work stoppages. There was a lockout
during the 1994-1995 season that reduced the schedule from 84 to 48 games. The lockout
of 2004 lasted 310 days, the longest in sports history and the NHL set a record no league
wants to be associated with, becoming the first one to cancel an entire season.

Now, Bettman has this mess on his hands and he's not exactly rolling up his sleeves to
get something done.  On Thursday, he called for a  two-week moratorium before
negotiating again. That's right, he wants to make sure he and family have enough time
to hunt for their own turkey and prepare all the trimmings. Bettman really should searching
for the golden goose because it's lost and if the commissioner doesn't find it soon,
this league is going to kill it and suffer financially in the long run and take a PR hit that
might take a long time to recover from.

While he's been commissioner, it seems the NHL has missed more games than it's actually
played. The MLS isn't this dysfunctional and absolutely nobody cares about it. People
aren't exactly burning through the turnstiles or helping the NHL set record ratings.
ESPN cared so little about the league, they let the NHL go find a better deal. Not sure
going to the then-Versus network could be considered a better deal because nobody could
find it and the numbers showed, few people were watching.

The NHL caught a break when Versus became the NBC Sports Network and gave it
some credibility. The league appeared to have some momentum with some big-market
teams like the Chicago Black Hawks, Boston Bruins, and Los Angeles Kings hoisting
the Stanley Cup over the last few years. But any momentum, the league built,
has been squashed with the latest lockout.

Sad thing is, few people outside die-hard hockey fans are missing the NHL. With
the NFL, College football, college basketball, and the NBA, there are plenty of
options for fans out there. And like most things, it's out of sight, and out of mind.
Many people have certainly forgot about hockey and it's quite easy to.

I understand that Bettman works for the owners, who sign his $8-million-a-year
paychecks. But come on, can't the NHL ever get things right? This stop-start thing
is really an embarrassment. The NHL generates billions of dollars, yet nobody seems
to have a solution for getting a deal done. Perhaps, it's not just Bettman who is an
idiot. It seems that everyone associated with the No Hockey League, is as well.


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