SBD/January 28, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Columnist Examines Gary Bettman's Mixed Legacy Of Financial Growth, Labor Stoppages

NHL revenues have jumped from $732M per year to $3.3B under Bettman's watch
Gary Bettman’s tenure as NHL Commissioner "has brought some important positive changes to the league,” but his legacy will be "forever coloured by the rancour and animosity of three lockouts,” according to Eric Duhatschek of the GLOBE & MAIL. In spite of salary growth, "many players regard him as a villain.” Ducks RW Teemu Selanne, who has been in the league for Bettman's entire tenure said, “The hockey has grown a lot in every which way so I think for the most part, he has been very successful -- and obviously, we all appreciate that. We -- the players -- are very lucky to have the lifestyle that we have. But if you ask any player, nobody’s happy that he also had three work stoppages. Obviously, that’s the only minus we are looking at from his part.” Duhatschek wrote people “struggle to separate the personal from the professional” when assessing Bettman's legacy. Some will “always consider him to be an outsider, never having been steeped in hockey culture.” Former Sabres Managing Partner & Minority Owner Larry Quinn said, “On Gary overall, if you looked at every category and separated yourself from the personalities and said, ‘has this business grown over his tenure?’ There’s no question it has." Duhatschek notes following Bettman’s first full season on the job in '93-94, NHL revenues “amounted to $732-million and annual player salaries averaged $558,000.” Revenues by the end of last season had “nearly quintupled to $3.3-billion, and players now earn an average $2.55-million.” Many NHL GMs “expect Bettman to work until his 65th birthday, on June 12, 2017.” He “could announce his decision to retire then, but stay on for the 100th anniversary season” in ’17-18. Meanwhile, with the CBA in place until at least ‘20, the question becomes whether he can grow the NHL "to 32 teams" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/26).

BACK IN THE SWING OF THINGS: The CBC’s Glenn Healy said of the league’s opening week, “Is it fool’s gold to look at some of these league numbers and say, ‘Wow, the league is doing great. Look at the television numbers, eight regions had unbelievable opening weeks.’” Healy: "They’re offering great discounts, you’re giving away Center Ice at a discounted rate.” But The CBC’s Kevin Weekes said NHL COO John Collins “has done a great job growing it in spite of this lockout,” and the NHL “will do a much better job growing revenues with an entire year and also, being in a new fiscal year” (“HNIC,” CBC, 1/26).
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