SBD/December 12, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Gary Bettman Hits 20-Year Milestone As NHL Commissioner With Mixed Legacy

Bettman has facilitated a C$2.9B increase in revenue in his 20 years on the job
Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the NHL hiring Gary Bettman as commissioner, and the Vancouver PROVINCE's Tony Gallagher writes under the header, "It's Been 20 Years Of Bettman: As Far As The Owners Are Concerned, He's Done A Pretty Good Job." Because Bettman has "functioned as a representative of the owners, you could argue he's done a very nice job, particularly with respect to the increase in value of the various franchises over the length of his reign." Bettman has been "responsible for the expansion of the league by six teams, which means there are that many more hockey-related jobs ... and throughout that expansion he's kept the number of playoff teams the same, against temptation to do otherwise." There is "no question Bettman brought a certain professionalism to the position." Much of the increase in revenues during Bettman's tenure -- from C$400M "at the time he took over" to C$3.3B prior to the current lockout -- "has come from inflation and the Canadian dollar." In some ways "you could call him a socialist commissioner with most everything done to punish success and reward failure." But "to be sure Bettman's legacy will be very much more kindly reviewed whenever he does step away if this present squabble ends soon" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 12/12).

BY THE NUMBERS: In N.Y., Jeff Klein notes since Bettman's first full season as commissioner in '93-94, 2,224 regular-season NHL "games have been canceled" because of three separate lockouts. That comes to 9.7% of games scheduled from October '93 through January 1, 2013. No other "major league has a similar rate of cancellation over the same period." Innovative Sports & Entertainment Advisor and BOD member Bob Gutkowski: "To lose almost 10 percent of your games to lockouts, that’s a chilling number" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/12).

REPORT CARD: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason notes Bettman "didn’t take his post until Feb. 1, 1993, but he was hired as commissioner after a meeting Dec. 11, 1992." His anniversary is "hardly grounds for mass celebration," but his tenure "in totality should not be pushed through a shredder, either, as many would believe." Overall, the league is "stronger, and players are making exponentially more money than they did when he arrived" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/12). The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin writes of Bettman, "The current CBA disaster will no doubt be carved on his tombstone." The "problem for Bettman is that his major accomplishments have been obscured from the average fan. Going into the lockout we gave him a C+. We'll wait till this lockout ends to give a final grade. But it's not likely to improve" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/12).
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