21 September 2012

How about we cut Gary Bettman a little slack?

So the National Hockey League is going through a little bit of a lockout, perhaps you have heard about it. And as usual, the villain of the situation is the man pictured above, commissioner Gary Bettman. Arguably the most unpopular commissioner in sports (although that is like trying to pick a good Resident Evil movie), this is the third lockout since Bettman took over of the league in 1993. But I think we need to cut Bettman a little bit of slack here, quite frankly.

Now do not interpret this piece as a complete defense of Bettman as by no means am I a fan of the commissioner. I think he overexpanded the league (just like the NBA) and into markets that hockey would not be successful in, like South Florida and Arizona (I give him a pass with the Atlanta Thrashers because the original franchise, the Flames, were hurt by mediocre attendance and poor finances but were good on the ice and the Thrashers were never good, hence the low attendance). I am a firm believer in more teams in Canada, we need a club in Quebec, just like we needed to have a club back in Winnipeg, and maybe another team in Southern Ontario.

But, like every commissioner in a work stoppage, Bettman has his hands tied in this lockout. People really do not realize that the commissioner essentially works for the owners as they have to confirm him to run the league so he cannot stray from them, whatever the owners say he has to go by. That is just the way it is.

Plus I feel that people are essentially ignoring the NHLPA in looking who to blame. The Players' Association was a complete mess during the lockout back in 2004 and it cleared showed that their disorganization led the owners having the better hand throughout negotiations. So the NHLPA knew full well what it was doing when it brought on Donald Fehr to first consult, then to serve as its executive director. Fehr, of course, ran the MLBPA during the infamous 1994 lockout and he was known as a tough negotiation and one of the stronger union leaders in recent memory, cut out in the mold of his mentor Marvin Miller. Bringing on Fehr made the NHLPA signicantly stronger but also sent the message that they would have a harder line during negotiations.

Everybody knows who loses when these two sides and I do not have to say whom. All I am saying is let's ease up a little on Bettman. I know that's hard for some but if you were in his position right now, what would you do?

No comments:

Post a Comment