Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Bettman Saga Silently Rolls On...

Ed Willies, from the Province, wasn’t impressed with Gary Bettman’s latest trip to Vancouver. Last night Gary casually put down any speculation that he could be asked to step down by the league’s BOG. The arrogance drips for his quotes as he mentions that even he isn’t sure how many years he has left on his contract… four maybe five. Rest assure, it runs through the end of his latest and greatest CBA. Maybe the owners will strategically re-up him after he oversees the next work stoppage and another CBA… we might as well make this a cyclical process. Bettman again spun answers like a yoyo, saying that the NHL’s deal with Versus was a good one and they were willing to trade viewership for better coverage. His criteria for that, of course, is that Versus covers hockey in between periods and not other sports. Forget the .02s for regular games and a disastrous .7 for the All-Star game (a 76% drop from 2004). Forget that the All-Star game placed 18th on the Neilson in Dallas, the host city. Bettman lied to NHL fans, saying that all major polls show that only 25% of fans disagree with the current schedule. While not major, one from my site says that 65% of fans WANT a balanced schedule (248 votes). While not surprising, Bettman’s deal, should it have been voted on recently by owners is disgraceful. It essentially displays that owners are content with the state of the NHL; that they do not care what fans think. Do you ever wonder why Gary doesn’t make too many public appearances? Because he is ridiculed by fans everywhere he goes. And forget speaking at on-ice ceremonies. The great NHL Commish was booed mercilessly at Wayne Gretzky’s jersey retirement when he was handed the mic.

A couple of quotes from Willies’ article that will make you want to lose you cookies:

Bettman remains impervious to any criticism of his administration or the game's direction, as the commissioner again demonstrated during a 40-minute presser in which he said absolutely nothing of interest.

He will tell you the Versus deal is good for the game. He will tell you it's part of a master plan that will launch the NHL into a golden era. He will tell you the new conomic order has positioned the NHL for a prolonged period of prosperity.

And, it doesn't bother him one iota that others would look at the league and draw a far different conclusion about its prospects.

"I do it at the will of the owners," Bettman said.

Bettman, for his part, understands what's good for the owners is good for him. He's presided over two work stoppages, hasn't been able to deliver a national TV contract and his mere presence is a divisive point among NHL fans.

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