And Bettman couldn’t change their minds. As he acknowledged this week, he is not a caster of lightning bolts from on high. He works at the pleasure of his employers, the club owners, and when push comes to shove, they call the shots.
I say hogwash. Sure, the owners may call the shots but it is Bettman’s job to educated the owners on league wide issues and not let the owners focus on team-only issues. It is Bettman who has to sell the owenrs on the idea that a new schedule will generate new interest for the league as a whole. It is Bettman that must present the owners the results of fan polls that show that most fans hate the current schedule. It is Bettman’s job to sell the merits of a new schedule to the owners. There has been no indication from Bettman that he has done any of that and Oilers governor Cal Nichols called Bettman out for not doing so.
Nichols said this is where Bettman has to take charge.
“Encouraging those to do the right thing for the game,” said Nichols. “I don’t know about individual conversations with others, but obviously they occur and I guess (Bettman’s) decision to just sort of allow it to happen amongst ourselves is another frustrating thing. We voted for change and then we got into all these (different options). That shouldn’t matter. We already said we wanted change. We should just pick the best one and go ahead. If there’s disagreement, you’ve got to talk to people and convince them. It doesn’t always work, but most of the time it does.”
Stephen Brunt then goes on to say that Bettman doesn’t have the influence on the owners that the commissioner of the NFL does because the NHL doesn’t have a lot of money coming through the league central office (i.e. national TV contract, etc.).
More cash flow from head office equals more influence. Less cash flow equals less central power and, by extension, less concern for the collective.
Again, I say hogwash. All the revenue that comes into the other leagues central offices via TV contracts and other marketing rights is not the commissioners to do with as he pleases, it is the owners to do with as they please. Those other commissioners just give reccommendations to the owners on how to run the league. The difference is in my opinion is that Bettman is incompetent. Either he isn’t doing a very good job at developing and selling a ‘league’ plan or that the owners have lost trust in him because his league plan of the mid-1990’s failed miserably. His plan in the mid-1990’s was to expand into several new American markets expecting that the result of that would be more exposure in the U.S. which would result in a big U.S. national television deal. That didn’t happen. Instead the owners spent all the expansion money driving up salaries beyond what most teams could afford but no big national television deal came of it. People like to blame the big market teams on the rising pre-lockout salaries but the small market teams were just as much to blame spending their expansion dollars in stupid ways. Who gave Yashin that crazy deal? Who gave Jagr that crazy deal? Who offered Federov that big restricted free agent offer? It wasn’t Toronto or Detroit or the Rangers or Philadelphia. But when the expansion money dried up and no TV contracts came from it those small market teams could no longer maintain the big salaries that they helped to create and we know what happened next.
So maybe it is the case that Bettman is nothing more than a mouthpiece and a glorified administrative assistant to arrange and run meetings for the NHL owners or maybe he is just incompetent and not doing his job by adequitely developing and selling his league plan to the owners or maybe the owners have no trust in him because his plan in the mid-1990’s failed miserably. I suspect it is some combination of the latter two and because of that, Bettman must go. Until he does and gets replaced with a competent commissioner the owners trust the NHL is going to be nothing more than a bunch of individuals looking out for themselves.
(Edit: Bruce Garrioch agrees)
I put a challenge out to my readers to come up with one good thing that has happend to the NHL (from a fans perspective) in the time that Gary Bettman has been commissioner. I can’t think of any.
Changing topics slightly, the NHL loses credibility amongst hockey fans when they do stupid things. Even minor things that are just plain stupid. Things like selecting Yanic Perreault to the all-star game as Kostya Kennedy points out.
So, the first Western Conference goal of the 55th All-Star Game was potted by Yanic Perreault. Not Gilbert Perreault, the Hall of Fame forward who at 56 could still score in an All-Star Game, but Yanic Perreault — the journeyman forward who was unemployed the first month of this season before hooking on with Phoenix. Yanic’s a good guy who’s a nice year, but he got picked for the All-Star Game (his first, at age 36) because he’s the best face-off guy on the planet. He wins 62 percent and some Einstein on the All-Star selection committee said to himself, now THAT’S what the fans want to see in a showcase like this — a great face-off guy!
Guys like Paul Kariya, 4th in points for western conference players, were left off this team for Yanic Perreault. Evgeni Malkin and his 24 goals, 52 points in 42 games and a future star of this league was left off the NHL all-star team so guys like Jason Blake and Justin Williams can go. Nothing against Blake, Williams and Perreault but they are not all-star calibre players.