The Interview: Gary Bettman

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Canada, the ‘covenant’ with fans, Gretzky and on trying to do the right things

The Interview: Gary BettmanIn 16 years as NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman has shaped pro hockey in numerous ways—U.S. expansion, two lockouts, rule changes, the salary cap, the participation of NHL players in the Olympics. The past year, however, counts among the most troubled of his tenure. The league’s tug-of-war with billionaire Jim Balsillie for control of the Phoenix Coyotes put Bettman at odds with many fans, highlighting the combative side of the commissioner’s personality. Earlier this week, he discussed the fallout of Phoenix, fan antipathy toward him, and other hockey-related matters with the Maclean’s editorial board.

Q: It’s been a tumultuous couple of years for you, at least publicly. Do you still enjoy your job?

A: I love the job. I’m passionate about the game, and the people around the game, the way we as a sport connect with our fans. Every job has challenges, things that make the job interesting. I’m not exactly sure, by the way, that I buy into your characterization of tumultuous. That seems to be a little dramatic, perhaps media-centric, as opposed to the reality. But every business has day-to-day challenges, and that’s part of what gets those of us who work going every day.

Q: We want to give you a chance to respond to the broad perception here in Canada that you feel the future of the game lies in the United States—and that the real reason the NHL was in court this summer was to keep Canada from getting more teams.

A: I’ve got to ask you a question about your question. Where does that perception come from? What is it based on? Give me any factual basis and I’ll answer the question.

Q: Well, we could start by pointing you to some of the public opinion polls that emerged during the court process.

A: That’s based on the coverage, not necessarily the reality.

Q: So you’re saying the negative perception of you is the media’s fault?

A: No, I’m not. I’m saying it’s not based on anything. Look, what was going on in Phoenix was an attempt to, not just circumvent, but eviscerate all of our rules and procedures as to the two most important decisions that any sports league has to make: one, who’s going to own franchises and be partners in the league; two, where your franchises are going to be located. That was what Phoenix was about.

Q: Based on feedback from our readers, it’s safe to say most Canadians don’t see it that way. A lot of them saw a struggling franchise in Phoenix, a willing owner in a proven hockey market and the league actually buying the team to stop that prospective Canadian owner from getting control of it.

A: Okay, let’s look at a little history. When Edmonton and Calgary were struggling and there were other places that perceived they could do better because the dollar was stronger, we fought to keep them. Ottawa and Buffalo and Pittsburgh were all struggling and other places felt that they could do better. But we believe we have a covenant with our fans, who make an emotional and financial investment in us. If you run out on them in one place then you’re delivering a message that maybe you don’t take that covenant seriously anywhere. There was a point in the early 1990s when some said there was only going to be one team left in Canada. We never believed that, and everything we did with the Canadian Assistance Program, and with the new collective bargaining agreement, was to ensure that small-market teams—particularly small-market Canadian teams—not only could survive but could be fully competitive. And that’s what you have.

Q: You used the word “covenant” to describe the bargain between the league and its fans. What about the covenant that existed between the league and the fans in Winnipeg, and the fans in Quebec City?

A: We had the same covenant there and we lost in both of those cases. Both teams were struggling. Both needed new arenas and there was no prospect of the arena coming from any source. And the bottom line that differentiates it from all the other cases we’ve talked about, including Phoenix, was that nobody wanted to own a team there anymore. That’s when you reach the end of the line.

Q: But, respectfully, who wants to own the team in Phoenix?

A: Let’s back up. We had a prospective buyer and I was attempting to deliver the offer on May 5 when they put the club into bankruptcy. What then happened was [Coyotes owner Jerry] Moyes, in conjunction with others, did everything they could to make the franchise unsaleable. Through the summer, they lost the personnel, there was no selling of any tickets. They were trying to destroy the franchise so it would have to move.

Q: That seems a lot to lay at the feet of Mr. Moyes. Surely if there was a viable fan base in Phoenix those fans would be demonstrating it now. Instead, as few as 5,800 show up to games.

A: With all due respect, what do you know about the operations of the Phoenix Coyotes? Do you know that they lost most of their staff over the summer? Do you know that most of their employees quit? Do you know that they sold virtually nothing because of all of the uncertainty? Do you know that in the bankruptcy court proceedings season ticket holders were being sent information that says you’re going to lose your season ticket deposits? That the sponsorships weren’t able to be renewed? That they’re doing as well as they are, I think, is pretty good. Time will tell whether or not this franchise was actually destroyed over the summer. We believe that it can be resurrected, and if we’re right then there’ll be a new owner and the team will be there. If we’re wrong then we’ll have to deal with that.

Q: And how is the search for a new owner going?

A: We’ve actually just got it out of bankruptcy court in the last week or so. But we are in discussions with a number of groups.

Q: Prior to this summer, did you see operational problems with the Coyotes?

A: This team wasn’t particularly well run, and in a challenging economic climate, coupled with a variety of other factors, it was less than ideal circumstances. Listen, we have a pretty good track record of fixing these things—Winnipeg and Quebec notwithstanding. And you know, there’s been a lot of speculation about Quebec City getting another arena and wanting a team, and that’s something we’re going to want to look at, at the appropriate time.

Q: What about southern Ontario?

A: If we’re relocating, or if we decide to expand, then we’ll see who the applicant pool is, where they want to play, and it’ll get a very good, hard look. We don’t have this master list somewhere where we’ve ranked cities.

Q: Do the Toronto Maple Leafs in fact have a veto on another team locating in southern Ontario, as they claimed in a letter they wrote you that was submitted to the court in Phoenix?

A: They have the same vote as everybody else in the league. One-thirtieth. It’s a majority vote. They have no veto. That letter was a reservation of their rights, and it’s three or four years old. The fact of the matter is, we’re on record with the Canadian Competition Bureau, we’re on record in the proceedings in Phoenix. They do not have a veto.

Q: Are the Leafs on the same page as you on the issue today?

A: I believe they are. And even if they’re not, it doesn’t matter because they don’t have a veto! Even if they think they do, they don’t. Let’s be precise: relocation requires a majority vote [of NHL governors]. An expansion team, because you’re admitting a new owner, requires a three-quarter vote.

Q: Is there no sense among owners that the goose that lays the golden egg is in southern Ontario, waiting for you to take it—for the league to have another very profitable franchise?

A: You assume a lot of things. You may be right on all of them, but they’re all assumptions that haven’t been studied.

Q: You don’t think it would be a slam dunk that a second franchise in southern Ontario would be profitable?

A: I have no doubt that they would fill up the building. I don’t know what their media arrangements would be in an area that is very saturated. Is Copps Coliseum the right building? Who’s going to renovate it? Should there be a new building in Kitchener or Waterloo or London? Is it easy to get in and out of Hamilton 41 nights a year? These are all questions where, if we get to that point, have to be determined.

Q: Let’s talk a bit about how the league is weathering the recession so far. The early season figures for attendance in a lot of NHL cities seem to be down.

A: It’s all over the lot. I think about half the clubs are up, half the clubs are down. We’re probably, if you take Phoenix out of the mix—which is a unique circumstance—I think we’re somewhere around flat or within a percentage point.

Q: Do you think that you have some markets that are unduly soft?

A: I think there are places that can improve, absolutely.

Q: Ones that you’re worried about having turn into a potential Phoenix situation?

A: No, no. When you refer to a potential Phoenix situation, you’re talking about a bankrupt club. Phoenix didn’t belong in bankruptcy.

Q: Jerry Moyes was losing a great deal of money.

A: He was losing, I don’t know, $20 million to $25 million a year. Okay, so that happens to clubs occasionally. It’s happened to clubs that are doing quite well right now. The fact of the matter is, that club went into bankruptcy because Mr. Moyes was trying to get money from something that he didn’t own. He owned Phoenix, he didn’t own someplace else. You know, I’ve made it a point of not really discussing what Mr. Balsillie did and why, because for me this was never about Mr. Balsillie, this was about our rules. I know you keep asking the questions that point in that direction. But I’d like you to be clear that’s not really something that I think is particularly important for us to discuss. The other side made this very personal, and the only way we could demonstrate from our standpoint that it wasn’t was by not responding to the personal attacks.

Q: The legal files and the legal strategy that suggested that he was unsuitable as an owner. That wasn’t personal?

A: Not by me. The owners decided they didn’t want him as a partner.

Q: Still, it’s hard to remember a one-year period of time when there was as much media scorn, fan anger kind of directed at you. That can’t have been easy.

A: I sensed it in some quarters, but it wasn’t universal. I would submit if you went across our fan base most people would probably tell you they understood what we were doing and why. Listen, I know that we were the subject of a campaign that we decided not to participate in or even try to defend ourselves. We pride ourselves on trying to do the right things. And this notion of tumultuous, I’m not sure I get it. We came off an incredibly successful season, our Stanley Cup finals may have been the most viewed in years, our attendance for four years in a row set a record, our revenues four years in a row—all coming back since the work stoppage—set a record.

Q: You were booed when you presented the Stanley Cup—and that was in the United States.

A: I was booed presenting the Stanley Cup in Detroit to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Had I been presenting it in Pittsburgh I probably wouldn’t have been booed.

Q: It’s been suggested there’s some sort of rift between you and Wayne Gretzky, who was coaching the Coyotes and believes he was owed $8.2 million when the league bought the Coyotes out of bankruptcy. Is there?

A: No, not on our side, and we have made it very clear that we will be extraordinarily helpful and proactive in trying to help him recover what he believes he’s entitled to. Other than the fact we haven’t offered to make a payment right now—on something that really isn’t our obligation—I’m not sure there’s much of an issue. This is something that will continue to work itself out over time.

Q: Let’s switch gears from Phoenix.

A: Really? Okay!

Q: The NHL, probably more than any other sports league, is a custodian of the game. Here in Canada, surveys conducted by Reginald Bibby, a well-known sociologist, show a steep decline in the proportion of young people following the league compared to past decades. There are also stats that show, over the past 15 years, fewer young males are playing the game. Do these trends worry you?

A: Obviously we want our game and our fan base to continue to grow, and that’s a priority to us. I haven’t had a chance to review the Bibby report in depth, but two things jumped off the page at me. One, it appears that all the major sports are down pretty dramatically, and we’re still number one in Canada. Two, that part of it relates to diversity. Our following in families where the parents and the child were born in Canada was vastly different [higher] than where either parent or the child was not. All sports and all forms of entertainment find themselves in a more fragmented place than ever before, because of access to everything through digital media. Is it something we’re focused on? Absolutely.

Q: You talked about opportunities to grow the game and showcase it. Obviously one of those is the Olympics. Yet there’s no commitment to continuing on with them after Vancouver.

A: If you want to put any responsibility as to why we even go to the Olympics in the first place, I’m the one that did that. I thought it was the right thing to do, and I made the arrangements with the Players’ Association, with the IIHF and the IOC. We haven’t said we’re not going to Sochi [Russia in 2014]. We’ve just said we haven’t made a decision, and that seems to have snowballed into something bigger, like we’re anti-Olympics. Stopping our season in the middle is not without its impact. We get to February, we’re about to hit the stretch runs. Teams are firing on all cylinders, the races are close and it all comes to a stop. We have some teams, because of the arenas they play in, who don’t have a home game for three or four weeks, and you kind of lose the consciousness among fans. Then there’s the competitive issue. If you’re an NHL team with a diverse international roster you could send a dozen players, while another team might send one or two. That doesn’t mean you don’t go, it means you balance the pros and the cons. If we go to Sochi, it’s eight hours time difference from the East Coast of North America. Every game’s going to be played between four in the morning and two in the afternoon, live. You tell me—is that worth it, to shut down and impact, potentially, your season? I don’t know the answer.

Q: So did you make an error joining the Olympics in the first place?

A: No. I mean, it’s been a mixed bag. Salt Lake City was great, okay? Vancouver will be great. If you go back and you think about it and you look at the coverage and everything else, Japan and Italy, not so great.

Q: Back, briefly to Balsillie: given all the water that’s under the bridge, is there any chance he could become an NHL owner?

A: There’s a lot of water under that bridge. There’s so much water some could argue the bridge washed out. I’m a believer that it’s a long life and I would never say never. But let’s not get hysterical with the headline. It’s not something that I foresee any time soon.

Q: Is it true you ran into him in the bathroom at the courthouse in Phoenix?

A: Yeah. I said, “Oh, hello.” I mean, where else should you be more cordial than in the restroom?




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The Interview: Gary Bettman

  1. Bettman, you are so full of doo-doo. Claiming that Canadian fans DON'T dislike you because there's no factual evidence? How exactly do you manufacture factual evidence of that, there, genius? You were booed because you were presenting the Cup to the road team? When have you EVER been booed before when that happened?!

    Bettman, shut your $#@%ing mouth and stop insulting our intelligence.

  2. Bettman says in regards to Winnipeg and Quebec "And the bottom line that differentiates it from all the other cases we've talked about, including Phoenix, was that nobody wanted to own a team there anymore."

    The reason noboby wanted to own a team in Winnipeg is because they saw no future in it. Bettman and the NHL were not interested at all in saving the Jets, or doing anything to help. All the measues that were put in place ( like the Canadian Assistance Program and salary cap ) came about after Quebec and Winnipeg were moved and only when the problem spread to Montreal was anything done. The NHL never wanted Quebec or Winnipeg in the league since they merged with the WHA. Any talk to the contrary, is just talk.

    Bettman's solution to all problems is always the same: "Build a new building". Well Phoenix has its new building and still doesn't have any support, so now what? If Phoenix was a Canadian city, the team would have been moved already.

    • The "Poison Dwarf" says "Winnipeg and Quebec City notwithstanding". The truth is that he made no effort at all to keep those franchises in place. There was no league revenue sharing even considered until those teams had been moved south. It had been proposed, but there was no will among the NHL owners to save the former WHA franchises.

  3. Why wasn't he asked about the Whalers, I know this is a Canadian site but the mighty Whale wasn't even mentioned.

  4. Either Bettman purposefully has his head in the sand or he is completely delusional. The overwhelming sentiment, if you read blogs, forums, and MSM comments, is that he is disliked. Moreover, He wasn't booed because he presented the Stanley Cup to a visiting team, he was booed because people generally dislike him and what his is doing to the game.

    And his lame comment about most of the fans understanding what was occuring in Phoenix is a load of bull.

    In either case, dumb or delusional, he should no longer be considered a custodian of the game, nor should he be allowed to continue as commissioner.

    As a side note, I have never been more infuriated by his comments. The one thing people should take away from his comments in this interview is that he takes people, particularly, hockey fans as idiots. His answers, simply put, insult our collective intelligence.

  5. I don't understand why people hate this guy so much. I live in Winnipeg, and I love hockey, but I don't blame him for the Jets leaving. He didn't trade Teemu Selanne for Oleg Tverdovsky.

    • If you don't blame Bettmann then you haven't been paying attention. No, he didn't trade Teemu, but that's not why the team left.

    • Also a Manitoban, and completely agree with you. The team simply was not financially viable at the time, nor was it going to be any time soon. Nobody wanted to buy them, period. Our local governments wouldn't help out, so case closed.

      But it's easy to blame Bettman, since he's the face of the league. Nobody ever said the population in general was all that bright.

    • The problem here is that in the US they will go into debt, do very very silly things and then realize oops there are problems financially. Whereas in Canada people tend to be conservative with their money. Bettman does not see that. He want's to see big grandeur, and lots of money. He is trying to make the NHL something that it can never be…

  6. I'm from Winnipeg and am glad the Coyotes didn't move. I know how it feels to have your heart ripped out of your chest, and would never wish that on another NHL fan whether from Ottawa,Florida, or Phoenix. I support Bettman 100% and can understand everything he is trying to do. If there is ever a viable option for Canada to get another team it will happen.

    • The only difference is, few people in Phoenix could give a damn if the Coyotes left. They have a metro area of about 4.3 million people, yet they can't get enough fans out to come close to filling the arena.

      • Winnipeg also had a helluva time filling the arena most seasons. And clearly Manitobans didn't give much of a damn or there would have been political pressure for the governments to step in and save the club. That didn't happen. Bettman's just a guy who's doing his best in a very difficult job.

        • You must be Bettman's only friend, Sourstud. But you have your facts all wrong. Winnipeg always had attendance better than half the league. There was an ownership group that stepped forward, but the NHL and Winnipeg Enterprises wouldn't do their part to make the Jets viable going forward. Shenkarow didn't have the wealth to continue and the public was decieved to think he was profiteering.

          Ironically, the will needed came later in order to make the Moose viable.

          No doubt Bettman has a tough job, but so do many of us. If this is his best, the NHL is doomed!

  7. Im from Sweden, and i dont like Bettman, and thats saying a lot. He is such an ass.

  8. Everyone that hates Bettman shoudl watch "Bon Cop, Bad Cop".

    • Everyone that likes sub par Canadian movies should watch "Bon Cop,Bad Cop"

      • True, but the good moments make up for the terrible directing. Anyone who wants to see Rick Mercer impersonating Don Cherry should watch "Bon Cop, Bad Cop".

  9. Ho-ly. You really nailed Bettman to the cross. How can anyone expect a guy to be likable who's put on the defense every question asked?

    • So, what? He should only be asked softball questions?

  10. The "Poison Dwarf" is just simply out of touch with reality. He will cling to his failed strategy until the day he dies, or the day the owners wake up. Hockey will never be more than a curiousity in markets without real ice and snow.

  11. I don't really know enough about the specifics to comment, but will relate some hearsay from a very wise friend commenting on the lockout/strike when Trevor Linden (whom I admire) was "negotiating with Bettman.

    His quote, which I'll always remember, was "you don't see Bettman taking faceoffs against Linden, why does Linden think he is capable of negotiating with Bettman?"

    Both are very skilled at what they do, one knew his limitations.

    • That's asinine. Linden helped negotiate a CBA that has been very, very beneficial to the players. The salary floor is one of the reasons teams like Phoenix are struggling.

      BTW, Bettman doesn't take faceoffs because he is one of the very few NHL executives who can't skate.

      • Can't skate? Didn't you read those answers?

  12. I appreciate the enthusiasm of Canadian hockey fans, but most need a hard lesson in logic.

    Gary Bettman has probably the toughest job in professional sports (except maybe the goal tender for the Toronto Maple Leafs), and he's doing his best with a tough situation. Accusing him of being anti-Canadian is just stupid. The NHL let teams die (or move) in Atlanta, Cleavland, Hartford, and Oakland. But when Winnipeg and Quebec City move, it's a grand conspiracy against our great nation? Puh-leaze.

    Garry Bettman deserves a break.

    • How does it feel to be Bettman's butt-kisser?

    • No the problem with Bettman is that he is trying to make the NHL into something that it is not. In the US hockey is not a big deal. I know native Floridians and they tell me, "NHL? What's that?" They are more interested in football or even soccer. To have interest in a sport you got to be able to play it for fun. And in places where there is no winter with snow it ain't gonna happen.

      Is he anti-Canadian? Maybe you have a point. But he most surely is Anti-North. For example why on earth is there no hockey team in Alaska? Don't tell me that there are no hockey players there? Bettman is a casino type gambler, and he is what will make and break the NHL… This is only the beginning.

      I work in the stock market and I see people like these all the time. Sure they make lots of money and drive the big fancy cars, but then one bang and they are gone…

    • The major issue here is where can teams be logically supported. The answer is in Canada!!! There are at least 4 places in Canda right now that could easily support a NHL team. Instead Mr Bettman continues to pursue his dream of making hockey popular in the US when it will never reach the heights of popularity of Major league Baseball, Football or even stock car racing!! It has been mentioned about the Canadian Assistance fund but for several years the Canadian teams have been providing large sums to the league to support these illogical teams placed in non hockey cities in the US!!! Mr Bettman is a pompous a%$ss and needs to go before he damages the game, the NHL and the fanbase even further!!!

  13. how many american teams failed under bettman's watch? find a bettman interview with ron maclean somewhere and see if you still like him

    • What an idiot… I just listened to one of his interviews. He is a pure nutter! Actually he is arrogant and delusional.

  14. The league never had it so good. I'm glad to be an American, the anti semitism between the lines here is disgusting. The NHL is a second rate pro sport in the US somewhere down with indoor soccer. Bettman has tried to raise it's profile and perception, The commenter shere for the most part would rather go play hockey in the woods up in Canada.

    • Your comment is completely un-called for. If someone disagrees with Bettman they are an anti-Semite? You may not like the interviewers or their questions but calling them rascist is unreasonable. In fact, the only one saying anything about race is Bettman when he blames immigrant families as the reason hockey is declining among youth.

    • Where do you get anti-semitism from? I didn't even know the Poison Dwarf was a Jew. Not that it would make any difference to me one way or the other. The reason the NHL shouldn't be in the sunbelt is because of people like you who don't appreciate the skill of the sport, or the beauty of the sport.

    • You r in your own little dream world if u think there is anti-semitism in any of the comments here!! However one can see the anti-canadian sentiments in your statement!!!

    • The problem with you Americans is the game's too fast for you. You can't follow the puck and a blue streak didn't work.(good work Fox). I think you're jealous because it wasn't invented by an American. Years ago I was at a friend's wedding
      in Columbus, Ohio during the playoffs and Toronto was playing San Jose. I checked the radio and T.V. for the score.
      There was nothing mentioned about the N.H.L. How did this city ever get a team? Finally, in order to run the game,
      you have to know how to play it. I'm sure Bettman never picked up a hockey stick in his life. He's an arrogant lawyer
      that is destroying a great Canadian sport.

  15. Gary Bettman reminds me of "Baghdad Bob."

    Problems? What problems? Everything is just fine and dandy. Anyone who doesn't think so is simply ignorant of the facts…my facts.

    I wouldn't trust Mr. Bettman as far as I could pick him up and throw him.

  16. Gary…you dimwit. It is widely believed in many, many circles of hockey that you have a man crush on Sidney Crosby and you have put all of your marketing dollars/attention to that one player. It is also preceived that the Penguins get preferential treatment. Throw in the fact tha tyou are a terrible commish and you had the Wings play back-to-back nights in the Finals for the first time in 50 years. Well…yeah..you got friggin' boo'd.

  17. How about letting a hockey team from Minnesota move to Texas? You were speaking about covenant with the fans?! That was a great first year as Commish, you dolt.

  18. " I was booed presenting the Stanley Cup in Detroit to the Pittsburgh Penguins"

    Ummmm, NO Gary. You were booed when you were announced, not when you were actually presenting the Cup. That seems to be a trend yet you are trying to FOOL yourself.

  19. Two versions of a story. One….the co-owner of the San Jose Sharks said, when it was pointed out the league is keeping Balsillie out,"the owners aren't".

    Second version….Gary Bettman… Question- "the legal files and the legal strategy that suggested that he (Balsillie} was unsuitable as an owner.That wasn't personal?

    Answer……Not by me.The owners decided they didn't want him as a partner.

    Big problem for the commish coming at the BOG meetings Dec 15th.

  20. One thing that was not mensioned, and I think will have a much biger impact on future relocation of team than a bunch of Canadians crying (and acting like 2 year olds) over why they should get more teams, Is the PLAYERS UNION. With player saleries now tied to League wide profit I'm supried that they have not been more vocal about leaving under preforming teams in bad (non hockey) markets. How long will the NHL's experiment with putting teams in non-hockey markets in order to build a biger fan base last. Try giving them an AHL team and let them show they are able to support a NHL team first.

    I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT UNTILL THE PLAYERS UNION GETS IT'S ACT TOGETER AND RAISES THEIR VOICE, NOTHING WILL CHANGE. THEY WILL HAVE TO BE THE DRIVING VOICE IN THE RELOCATION DEBATE

    I also feel it i time to look at reconfigureing the division line ups. The 9 and 10 pm start times for fans trying to watch their team on the road is rediculous.

    So stop the crying and finger pointing up there in canada, grow up, figure it out and get the players (god knows there are enough canadians in the NHL) to drive the relocation.

    • Dan, you seem to be doing some finger pointing and crying yourself so take some of your own advice and grow up!!

      Mr Bettman was and is the one who is acting childish. So childish ,in fact, that he doesn't even recognize reality such as when he was booed because people don't like him!!! His behaviour during the whole Phoenix episode was so very childish!!

  21. Why no mention of the North Stars and Whaler moving. In the the north Stars case there wa an owner pulling up shop in quick fasion ( some will sugest running away from a herasment Law suit) and leaving one of the USA best hockey markets to move to Texas, where was the NHL then. The wild have proven and Bettman has admitted that was a misstake.

    I think it is funny that YOU want to spin this into a "the NHL wants out of Canada and always has" story line. The fact of the matter is at the time when those four teams moved (2 canadian and 2 USA teams) the NHL was letting it happen with little league intervention. The NHL has since change their aproach and is trying to how loyalty to their fans by not letting an owner pull up shop and move after a few lean years, to what the owner thinks are greener pastures. It also sounds like the NHL feels like they should have input into where future expansion/relocated teams will play. Sounds fair to me.

  22. I actually like Bettman and think, on the whole, that he's done a good job. It's incredibly easy to sit back and question every decision. Conversely, it's often incredibly hard to be the one the actually make the decision.

    Look, let's be clear:
    * one or more teams are coming back to Canada in the next 3-5 years (S.Ontario + Quebec City OR Winnipeg)
    * the NHL is staying in the Olympics

    But it's about how the specifics of each point will be negotiated. Bluntly, who gets paid what?

    Hang in there, Gary!

  23. My fellow Americans wake the F up! Hockey doesn't belong in the Southwest or South. This guy has almost made this great product less visible than the MLS, give me a F'n break. Get teams to cities where the game is respected, understood and followed, and the product will sell better on tv. It's a disgrance teams left cities in Canada and Minnesota under this idiot's watch. In addition the idiot doesn't get that the Olympics is an excellent way for the league to showcase it's talent so take advantage of it.

  24. They say one thing in an interview and do something different. Politics as usual.

  25. "I have to ask a question about your question…" Screw you, Bettman. You know you're hated, why pretend?

    Macleans tried to sound tough in this interview, but they didn't ask the question that can and should take this guy down once and for all: where is the U.S. TV contract you promised the owners 20 years ago? Bettman should be asked that question by every reporter he faces. It is the sole reason for his existence and the sole justification the league could ever offer for handing him the power to subjugate everything in the game to his marketing plan. That dream of greed is over. Bettman is an utter failure and he and everything he represents should be expunged from the league. Balsillie is a hero in my books for opposing Bettman as loudly as possible for all the right reasons. When guys like Balsillie run this league instead of guys like Bettman, it will again be something I can support.

  26. Typical ignorant, arrogant american running our game.

  27. How can one ever seriuosly believe a guy that looks and acts like Pee Wee Herman's twin.

  28. Good job; Bettman's responses confirm that he does not understand or even believe Canadian hockey fans. He acts in the best interest of the American franchise owners.

    I feel strongly that no League of professional teams should ever own one of the teams. Phoenix is on track to lose $50 million dollars in one year but Bettman is playing around with somebody else's money just to prevent the start of another Canadian team.

  29. Gary Bettman is my hero. Screw Canada.

  30. Hey Gary,
    Let me start the factual evidence, you're an idiot and I don't like you. The line starts behind me! Although I doubt it's the only line!

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