SBD/Issue 87/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Columnists Sound Off On NHL All-Star Festivities

American Airlines Center, which hosted this week’s NHL All-Star festivities, “wasn’t packed for Tuesday’s skills competition,” and the “late-arriving crowd” for last night’s All-Star Game “didn’t feel much different ... than a regular-season Stars crowd,” according to Jean-Jacques Taylor of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB for years “formed the big four of professional sports,” but Taylor writes, “Now, I’m not really sure where hockey fits into the mix. It’s certainly behind the other three sports, but it’s also behind college football and basketball, golf and NASCAR. And it will stay that way unless [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman makes some significant changes” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/25).

SCHEDULE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, on not changing the unbalanced schedule: “We’re in the middle of a three-year rotation and to force the change before we finish the cycle probably would be unfair to some of the teams. So the notion is we have one more year of this and then we’ll make whatever change everybody’s comfortable with” (“Mike and the Mad Dog,” YES Network, 1/24).

Some Criticize Bettman After
BOG’s Scheduling Vote
BETTMAN TO BLAME? In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch writes what frustrated “most everybody” about the NHL governors rejecting changes to the schedule this week “was the lack of leadership shown by Bettman after two-thirds of the 30 governors agreed change was needed, then stayed within the status quo.” When the governors fail twice “on a resolution to produce a schedule that fans can embrace, you have to question Bettman’s leadership” (OTTAWA SUN, 1/25). In Ft. Worth, Jim Reeves writes Bettman is “supposed to be the commissioner for the entire league, not just 11 provincial thinking owners concerned with only their own interests. He needs to act in the best interests of the league, not just a few teams” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/25). But in Toronto, Stephen Brunt writes, “This time, it’s not really his fault.” Bettman “works at the pleasure of his employees, the club owners, and ... they call the shots.” The success or failure of Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello — who voted against the changes –- are “based on selling tickets, sponsorship and local television, not on whether the [Blue Jackets] struggle or thrive” (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/25).

MINORITY REPORT: Bettman, “opening a luncheon this week on diversity in hockey, proudly made note of 39 cities offering inner-city programs with the help of the league.” But he said that he is “not satisfied with the number of minorities in the NHL — currently 31,” or about 5% of all players (AP, 1/25).
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