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BETTMAN DEALS WELL WITH ROLE AS "LIGHTNING ROD"
Published October 3, 1994
The two sides are far apart on a labor deal. But, "there is much agreement outside hockey, however, that Gary Bettman has a bear of a job" (John Helyar, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/3). Bettman: "I have no choice but to be a lightning rod. I'd rather not be. But I have to be" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/1). Gary Miles writes, "Like him or hate him, they couldn't ruffle him" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 10/2). CRITICS: Ian O'Connor compares Bettman to his old boss, NBA Commissioner David Stern: "If such a crisis materialized when the NBA was hot, when his sports revolution was just beginning to bloom, Stern would've worked the back rooms, would've employed his charm, would've been smart enough to let it all happen" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/2). In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz writes, "Is there a bigger knucklehead than Bud Selig? Yes. Gary Bettman" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/1). In Philadelphia, Bill Lyon writes, "The owners and their mouthpiece have come off looking petty and shortsighted and recalcitrant and just plain mule- stubborn" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/1). BACKERS: In Toronto, Marge Ormsby writes, "Bettman has been publicly savaged and ridiculed for representing the owners in brilliant, sometimes ruthless, style. Throw in the thinly veiled anti-Semitism, then this horrid treatment of one man is a sorry comment on those who purport to love hockey" (TORONTO STAR, 10/2). Roy Cummings writes, "Popular opinion aside, Bettman had to do what he did on Friday" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/2). In Winnipeg, Kelly Taylor notes that Bettman is hated in Toronto: "Out here on the prairie ... there is some reason to believe Bettman was not only telling the truth, but also representing the interests of the Western Canadian franchises" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 10/1). Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs: "He's even better than we thought he'd be" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 10/1). A LITTLE OF BOTH: In Toronto, Stephen Brunt writes, "Hate him for not appreciating that of which he is a custodian, hate him for being an aloof hockey Philistine who is messing with your world. He'll take it as a compliment for a job well done" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/1). "Admirers" say Bettman "has the marketing savvy" of Stern. But others feel Bettman "has deficiencies as a solo act" (John Helyar, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/3). HIRED GUN? In New York, Mark Everson speculates that Bettman will "be around just long enough to get a CBA done, and then he'll be gone -- just another 'sacrifice' that was part of the game plan all along" (N.Y. POST, 10/1). CHELIOS BACKLASH: Chris Chelios made a more public apology for his comments threatening Bettman and his family. ESPN's Karl Ravetch: "Once the mind realized what the mouth had said, Chris Chelios realized he had made a mistake" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/30). Bob Ryan: "He's a defenseman for God's sake." Mike Lupica: "He plays with one helmet, and I don't think that is necessarily enough for him" ("Sports Reporters," ESPN, 10/2). In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont writes, "Talk about sullying the game's image." Bruins President/GM Harry Sinden saw Chelios' comments as union-driven and called it "well-orchestrated, heinous and sinister behavior" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/2).