SBD/March 11, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Gary Bettman Quietly Negotiated Five-Year Extension With NHL BOG In November

Bettman's five-year extension was unanimously approved by NHL BOG
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "quietly negotiated a five-year contract extension last November," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. Bettman's current contract, which pays him $7.2M annually, was set "to end this summer," although the NHL BOG "may have earlier picked up an option that extended it to 2012." One source said that the five-year extension was "unanimously approved by the nine-member executive committee." Bettman "confirmed via e-mail he received an extension." Bettman wrote, "Old news. I believe my contract has been extended four times, each time with the approval of the board of governors." One governor said that he believes Bettman also "reached an understanding with the executive committee" that Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and COO John Collins "will also be retained beyond this season." Daly, who earned $1.9M last season, "would only say he does not have a contract." One governor said that NHL BOG Chair and Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs "made the move with an eye toward the end" of the CBA in September '12. The governor said that the board "wants to head into negotiations with the NHL Players' Association with solidarity on the management front." The BOG "does not want any perception Bettman could be a lame-duck commissioner if he does not have a new contract" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/11). CBSSPORTS.com's A.J. Perez notes Bettman "has never been a fan-favorite," but "lost is the fact that Bettman is popular among the only contingent that counts: the league's 30 owners" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/11).

PERFECT STORM: In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote this week has been a "perfect storm" for Bettman. The NHL's "two areas of greatest vulnerability, the two issues that attract the most public scrutiny and open the league to charges of being structurally unsound and run by outlaws, have been played out in some of North America's largest media centres this week." In one corner, the league-owned Coyotes are "quite possibly headed to Winnipeg," while in the other, "you have the violence issue, which this week was played out in an entirely different, nearly unprecedented fashion" when Canadiens LW Max Pacioretty was seriously injured by a hit from Bruins D Zdeno Chara. The overall impression for the league is "instability and mayhem." Bettman "has weathered such events time and time again," and this "won't bring him down." But it is "remarkable that at a time when the other North American leagues should be attracting gobs of negative publicity over their impending labour troubles and potential stoppages in competition, it's the NHL that's getting all the bad ink and being widely described as a league in turmoil" (THESTAR.com, 3/10). The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt writes, "A question arises naturally as one of the worst weeks in National Hockey League history draws to a close. So just who is in charge here?" Brunt: "This must be Gary Bettman's time. ... He's the only person with the power to say that what came before was wrong, and what happens from here on must be right" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/11).
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