Everyone seems to hate Gary Bettman, and I think I’m supposed to too. I’m just not certain why.
Sure, I know he can seem smug and unlikeable. And I haven’t always agreed with everything he’s said, or the way he promotes (or rather, doesn’t) the NHL. But overall, I think he does the job pretty well.
Canadians, more than anyone, hate the guy. Check out the Macleans magazine interview with him. I couldn’t get over the questions he was asked, like he has some grand plan to royally f**k the game, screw Canada specifically, then disappear into the mountains somewhere.
Somehow to the interviewer, the fact that Canada didn’t get another hockey team overshadowed the more important stats – that the league has been doing better in all the major categories (revenue, attendence, merchandise, etc.) for four years now. The game is fun to watch again, players are earning fair contracts, and teams that we once feared we’d lose (I’m looking at you, Alberta) are on solid ground thanks to revenue sharing (and a stronger Canadian dollar).
I can’t imagine how much Bettman has learned in his days as Commissioner. This guys knows the ins and outs of the job better than any new guy handed the baton would, and think – is there really a commissioner in any sport that’s liked? David Stern (NBA) is an asshole, right? Bud Selig (MLBA) is an asshole too, isn’t he? And what of Goodell (NFL)? What’s he so mad about in all his interviews?
It’s a tough, unpopular job. You’re the figurehead that absorbs the abuse, in Bettman’s case, the chastising taken for trying to restore the league into the American consciousness. Just because you disagree with the guy doesn’t make him a pedarest or something. He hasn’t committed an actual crime along the way that I’m aware of, did he? Did he test positive for steroids somewhere along the line?
There were times in the US when the NHL was a punchline. Not only were no highlights shown on TV (or respect given anywhere, really), but I think I only heard about the league when metaphors for dead things were needed. Yup. Dog got hit by a car. I walked out the front door, and he was just layin’ there, deader than the NHL. Poor thing never had a chance. Sports radio hosts crucified it. These days, those same hosts are scrambling to get to know the league again so they can at least hold a conversation on our resurgent sport.
The league has done a great job of taking Crosby and Ovechkin, making them saviours, and watching the game grow with them. Crosby winning a cup? No small potatoes for a league that certainly needed a boost like that. People actually tuned in to watch it happen (watch, this year it’ll be an Atlanta/Nashville final).
I’m not saying I wanna hang out with Bettman. Let’s just acknowledge that he has done some good for the game, and that he might have one of the toughest jobs in America. Probably the toughest job in sports.
If you read my blog, you probably like hockey. And Bettman has done well to bring the game back into the “major four sports” category. You can’t hate on that.
Random sidebar: The coach of the Kansas Jayhawks football team is “under investigation” (what, for eating porkribs for breakfast? Have you seen the size of this guy?) for apparently “grabbing a player, jamming his finger into his chest”… and something else inconsequential. There might be more, but I just heard that much on SportsCenter.
I’ve been sitting on stories about my junior coach, waiting to turn it into a five part series or something but… f**k. These kids are reporting their coach because he got slightly physical? And they’re football players? No wonder they’ve started losing games.
My junior coach had a “f**k up and get hacked” rule. You didn’t listen, he shot a puck at you. And not low. He pinned me to the glass with his stick under my throat for laughing while he was explaining something. Skated nearly the length of the ice after seeing me laugh. It wasn’t cool, but whatever. What, I’m gonna quit cause I have to listen? Report it to SportsCenter? Get a lawyer?
Man up, Kansas.
One more thing. To the woman he did this to her poodle for Halloween… go sit in the corner and think about what your life has become.