Friday, January 26, 2007

Bettman the Master Politician

After reading this article from Mike Heika and Gary Jacobson of The Dallas Morning News, one would be led to believe that the league is approaching the peak of its existence. After all, Gary Bettman said:

About t.v. ratings = "We're committed to doing the right things over the long haul and we're confident over time our ratings will grow."

Real quick, Mike Chen from Fox Sports counters with "Bettman wants to say that the league is being patient and they're confident that with the right treatment, TV ratings will grow. The problem is that they've tried pretty much damn near everything. TV sports ratings are like a mudslide and the NHL is trying to fight its way upstream." In his article, he investigates the drop in t.v. ratings for all four major sports from 2000-present. Not surprisingly, he found that the NHL has seen the biggest decline. Read more here.

On attendance - "I think the fact of the matter is we're playing within about 1 percent of our attendance last year. Last year, we set an all-time attendance record. Were it not for last year, this year would be the all-time attendance record. So we're really not having attendance issues." Nevermind these articles. They're all false. Some of the biggest hockey markets in the States aren't really facing dramatic losses... not Boston, not Philadelphia... two blue-collared cities. Not St. Louis. And on and on.

More - "But we're still playing close to 90 percent of capacity." Has this guy been to a game in a while. I went to the Caps game last Saturday and I would say it was a little more than half full. Even sadder, teams are being forced to offer cheaper tickets these days to attract fans. The Caps just GAVE AWAY 300+ tickets to the Canes game tomorrow night.

Health of teams financially - "Vastly improved. Most of our teams are either making money or breaking even. The teams that are losing money are losing less. My goal is to have all of our clubs at least breaking even or making money, and at the same time." That is one thing he is good at... putting money in the pockets of owners. Rest assure though, as his fan base gets flushed down the toilet, owners will not be making money. The quick fixes will run dry... I wouldn't be surprised if Bettman asks the proper authorities to cut down on time zones in North America to one so that he can have one big division with minimal travel costs. BTW... have you ordered your $400 jersey yet? It's steamlined!!! You'll be 8% faster!

On the new rule changes - "I think the feedback from the general managers and from the coaches, and from the players, and, as importantly, from our fans, has been overwhelmingly positive. People like the game, they like the style of play, they like the speed, they like the flow, they like the scoring chances, they like the increase in scoring. We're committed to maintaining the standard." Ha... fans... any time this guy gets around fans they boo him. How would he know what the fans think? It makes me sick to my stomach any time he even says the word fans. I genuinely believe that he does not care one bit about what fans think. His goal, as he mentioned already, is to make the owners money. And overwhelmingly positive??? Who is this guy kidding? Is that why arenas are sitting nearly half empty on some nights?

When asked about the hitting, emotional, and physical play, Bettman countered with "While statistics only take you so far, I think the people who say we've taken hitting out of the game haven't been watching the game because, actually, we had more hits last season than we did in '03-04. " I wish they asked him when the last time there was a rivalry in the NHL. Look that up in your stat book Uncle Gary.

On the new uniforms - "They'll have more freedom of motion, they'll be wearing fabrics that enable them to breathe and not retain as much sweat in their uniforms so that they'll be lighter, I think this is going to enhance performance. " That is wonderful. And how much do they cost should I want to purchase one? What's that? $400? I am sure you'll make some good sales off those jersies. You do realize that your jersies now cost 2-4X as much as any other pro jersey out there, right?

So now, let me get this straight.... we have the second highest attendance mark of all time; arenas are 90% full on any given night on average; t.v. ratings will grow and it is not a big deal that the NHL has seen the biggest drop off since 2000 because all sports are down; there are more hits in today's NHL than there were pre-lockout, and the new jersies will make players 8% faster. Don't let the overwhelming number of articles steer you wrong ladies and gentleman... Uncle Gary has spun the truth into you and you will be a fan of his new product. Zippy chance...

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