Oh wait, they do.
Why though? Why do hockey fans love to hate this man? Reasons vary all over the place, and I suspect many do it without reason just to join the crowd. Here are some reasons that people hate Bettman:
- Two lockouts so far, with a 3rd possibly on the horizon. (I’m sure that’s completely his fault)
- Receiving a salary in excess of $8 million. (He certainly does less than Wade Redden making over $6 million in the AHL, right?)
- Expanding the NHL from 26 to 30 teams (How dare you grow the sport!)
- Allowing franchises to leave Minnesota, Quebec, Winnipeg, Hartford and Atlanta. (Why don’t you buy the franchises and keep them there!? You’re making $8 million!!)
- Adding teams in Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, and Columbus. (Okay, Atlanta was a failure, clearly Bettman is a failure.)
- I’m sure plenty of other reasons that I don’t know or care to list. (comment below if you feel necessary)
|Not pictured: 30+ management people above Bettman.|
Here’s the question I would love to ask those that hate Gary Bettman: What do you know about him and his position?
“The League shall employ a Commissioner selected by the Board of Governors. The Commissioner shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the League and is charged with protecting the integrity of the game of professional hockey and preserving public confidence in the League. The Board of Governors shall determine the term of office and compensation of the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall be elected a majority of the Governors present and voting at a League meeting at which a quorum was present when it was convened.“
As you can see, Bettman’s appointment came from the Board of Governors. At this point, a lesson in the league structure is necessary.
The NHL itself is led by a Board of Governors. This Board consists of representatives from all 30 NHL teams. Each team appoints a governor and two alternates, with the governor usually being the team owner. One of the governors also acts as chairperson for the Board (currently Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs). Among the duties of the Board of Governors: 1) review and approve the purchase, sale, or relocation of member clubs, 2) hire and fire the NHL commissioner, 3) there’s a bunch more, but it’s unnecessary for this post.
Take note of the previous few paragraphs. Gary Bettman is an employee of the NHL, and his boss is the Board of Governors, which is essentially the NHL’s 30 team owners and their friends. So let’s address some issues here.
|LOL Gary, I'm not even gonna be in the league for that lockout talk.|
Wanna grab some Chik-Fil-A tomorrow?
Bettman is the reason for these lockouts.
Bettman makes $8+ million.
Are you unhappy that he makes too much money? Maybe you should start questioning his employer(s) instead of him about that. I know it’s crazy, but he doesn’t just decide what he wants to make. As stated in the NHL Constitution paragraph I quoted above, “The Board of Governors shall determine the term of office and compensation of the Commissioner.” The NHL owners are paying him that money, and they have a good reason to do so. Not only does he represent them and pursue their wishes, but he is also the ultimate scapegoat for the public to throw under a bus while the owners take very little flak. It’s much easier to attack one name than an organization, and that one name is worth $8 million to the owners. Especially when you almost never see those 30 owner names (see below!).
Despite all of these things, there is a trend amongst fans. People either make a statement about the players or Bettman. Here is the hierarchy though: Donald Fehr represents the players. Gary Bettman represents the owners. It’s either Fehr vs. Bettman or the players vs. the owners (and truthfully, it’s very much the latter since the former are just representatives). Somehow public perception is generally the players vs. Bettman though, why let facts get in the way of a good rant after all?
So with all of this, I say the following: Blame Bettman if you want, but know what you’re blaming him for and what he actually does. If you’re upset about a potential lockout though, your effort is wasted on blaming Bettman, the NHL as a league, or a myriad of other options. Take a look at the 30 NHL owners who have lined their pockets with your money. They hand that money to Bettman, they hand that money to players, and they hand it off to their bank accounts all over the world. Now after spending all of that money, they are complaining and throwing a hissy fit. Why?
Here’s why. Some of those owners (Nashville, Florida, Tampa, etc.) are not lining their pockets with money anymore. Their accounts are dwindling while they pay players at an increasing rate. They legitimately do need help to survive. Meanwhile, other owners (Toronto, New York, Montreal) are laughing on their way to the bank because they don’t even need a Stanley Cup run to line their pockets with cash. They don’t need help at all. The initial proposal from the NHL is a wonderful idea for that first set of teams. It helps them save money and brings them back into the game. Oh, the second set of teams loves it too because they can make a second lining of cash in their pockets. All of the owners win…just at a detriment to the players.
The players are aware of this and have suggested a different solution. Hey Toronto, how about you help some of your board members out and give some money to Tampa, since, ya know, they actually make the playoffs every so often unlike you. Hey Philly, how about you pay some of Shea Weber’s contract for Nashville after you tried to bully them with your big market money (Idea from Jeff Marek of Sportsnet). Etc. Small market owners will love it, big market owners will hate it, but we’ll have to see how that dynamic turns out on the owners’ side.
So finally, to bring this full circle, do you know who will be indifferent to both offers? Gary Bettman. He will react and counteroffer with whatever the owners would like to do, because that’s his job.
By the way, here are 30 names that you have not seen enough media coverage on. Some of them need help, some of them don’t. I have a feeling you can figure out which ones fit into which category (hint: look at their team spending habits). Here are the majority owners or chairperson for each team:
Anaheim – Henry Samueli
Boston – Jeremy Jacobs
Buffalo – Terrence Pegula
Calgary – N. Murray Edwards
Carolina – Peter Karmanos
Chicago – Rocky Wirtz
Colorado – Stan Kroenke
Columbus – John P. McConnell
Dallas – Tom Gaglardi
Detroit – Mike Ilitch
Edmonton – Daryl Katz
Florida – Cliff Viner
Los Angeles – Philip Anschutz and Edward Roski Jr.
Minnesota – Craig Leipold
Montreal – Geoff Molson
Nashville – Predators Holdings LLC (Thomas Cigarran)
New Jersey – Jeffrey Vanderbeek
NY Islanders – Charles Wang
NY Rangers – James Dolan
Ottawa – Eugene Melnyk
Philadelphia – Comcast-Spector (Ed Snider)
Phoenix – The NHL
Pittsburgh – Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle
St. Louis – Sports Capital Partners (Tom Stillman)
San Jose – Sharks Entertainment Enterprises (Kevin Compton)
Tampa Bay – Jeff Vinik
Toronto – Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (Larry Tanenbaum)
Vancouver – Canucks Sports and Entertainment (Francesco Aquilini)
Washington – Ted Leonsis
Winnipeg – True North Sports and Entertainment (Mark Chipman)