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NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN's job "might seem less consequential than some of his counterparts," but it is "infinitely more complex than most," according to Michael Farber of SI. Bettman must "confront a variety of borders -- geographic, cultural and even linguistic." His league is on the "periphery of the American experience for many, in the marrow of Canadian life for most." While Bettman has "grown the footprint of his league in the U.S., many in Canada want to leave their footprints on his prostrate body." He has been "called the worst commissioner in sports history." He also has made the NHL a "thoroughly modern league, expanding it from a licensing company into a media company." The three lockouts are "jagged shards, characterizing a tenure in which Bettman has inarguably benefited ownership long term but roiled the game short term." Nevertheless, the game already "seems to be roaring back." The average NHL salary in Bettman's "first full season was $558,000." Last year, the average NHL salary was $2.45M. Former Sabres Managing Partner & Minority Owner LARRY QUINN said, "If you're an employee and your institution's bottom line has gone up like that, you'd be looking at this leader and saying, 'Isn't he great?'" Univ. of Michigan sports management professor RODNEY FORT said Bettman will "go down as one of the greatest commissioners in pro sports." He added, "If you consider his job description, he has been completely masterful." Farber notes Bettman is employed by the owners, whose "share of hockey-related revenue has increased from 25% to 50% since" the league's second lockout in '04-05.
BORDER GUARD: Canada is "simultaneously the rock of Bettman's game and the pebble in his shoe." Bettman has "saved at least a couple of scuffling Canadian franchises." He also has "swung the truncheon, relocating two others to American cities." Former Maple Leafs President & GM BRIAN BURKE said, "His image in Canada is so unfair." Farber notes Bettman "gave the country its coveted seventh team" when he relocated the Thrashers to Winnipeg. He "developed the Canadian Assistance Plan," spanning from '95-04. On the macroeconomic scale, "rewards for his Canadian support have been significant." But the "backslapping" for Bettman "has been minimal." The question is what has Bettman "done to alienate fans?" Is it something "as concrete as lockouts or is it something as intangible as his mien or manner?" Former Nordiques co-Owner & President MARCEL AUBUT said, "There's a little bit of arrogance in him that sometimes doesn't help, but people who know him understand he has a big heart" (SI, 3/11 issue).
While MLS Timbers COO MIKE GOLUB has yet to get Owner MERRITT PAULSON on board, Golub and his wife SAM are all about yoga. This weekend the couple will hit up a party, do some yoga and cycling, swing by one of his favorite food trucks and catch a movie. All squeezed around the Timbers' home game against the Impact on Saturday.
DATE NIGHT: Friday, my wife and I are going to try and catch a movie. Maybe "Amour" or "Zero Dark Thirty." Those are the two on our list. We haven’t seen a movie in a while. I also have a friend’s going-away party from adidas. Then I’ll take my wife out to a vegetarian restaurant. She’s actually a vegan, which is even harder for me (laughs). One of our favorites in town is a vegan place called Natural Selection. It so happens -- and we didn’t know this until we became fans of the restaurant -- that the chef and owner is a member of the Timbers Army.
DOWNWARD DOG: On Saturday, my wife and I usually do either a yoga class or a cycling class first thing in the morning and one of us tries to walk the dogs down to the studio. I find it’s really relaxing. I have an ongoing argument with my boss, our owner Merritt, and he claims yoga isn’t truly exercise. He obviously is wrong and I keep on trying to say, “Just come to the class, and I’ll prove you wrong.”
FARM FRESH: Then we have a healthy brunch somewhere, either home or at one of our spots. Portland also has a great farmer’s market. It’s not quite open yet, but typically on Saturdays we go there and we’re part of a cooperative where you pick up fresh produce at the farmer’s market.
JUST FOR KICKS: Saturday is our second home game against Montreal. It’s a 7:30pm game, so I’ll probably get here 2:00pm or 2:30pm. I tend to walk the stadium with our Senior VP/Operations KEN PUCKETT. I try to check in with the various departments. … Merritt and GAVIN WILKINSON -- our GM -- and I typically before games open have a meal; it’s sort of a pregame ritual. There’s a buffet, so I undo all the gains I made in yoga. We started a program last year called the Food Cart Alliance. Every game there’s a different food cart that comes and takes over one of our stands and offers their food. So this Saturday is one of my favorite food carts in town. And I had nothing to do with this, this was voted in! It’s called Nong’s Khao Man Gai. It’s Thai street food.
THE GIFT OF TIME: After our first year, Merritt gave a few of us a really nice watch. I started wearing it in the second season to games and the watch has a great record. So I wear it as good luck.
TAKE A HIKE: Sunday, we’re up early and either exercising or hiking with the dogs. Portland is awesome because there’s amazing hiking right in the city. Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. We have trails five to ten minutes from our house. So there are many options right here in the city and also the Columbia River Gorge.
TAKE YOUR PICK: The Sunday N.Y. Times has always been a ritual of mine, so I can’t do without spending a couple hours with it. There’s a really cool app called Instapaper. Once you install the app, both on your mobile device and desktop, any webpage that you come across, you hit read later and it saves it to your Instapaper. It’s actually great for traveling because you don’t need to be connected to the web to read it. But I also like to read up on stories that I wanted to read during the week but I didn’t have time. There’s a couple of weekly newsletters, like JOE FAVORITO’s weekly online newsletter, in which I may flag some interesting stories in the sports and media world that I like a lot. Then I also try on the weekends to listen to some of the podcasts that I didn’t get around to, like MLS' “ExtraTime Radio." There’s also a podcast “Soccer Made In Portland” that I enjoy and “The Best Soccer Show.”
Rockets GM DARYL MOREY has received a four-year extension through the '17-18 season (MYFOXHOUSTON.com, 3/7)....FIA President JEAN TODT is "set to enter a second term at the end of this year." Todt is "able to extend his tenure by another four years into a second term, and it appears he will exercise this option due to his great backing following an interview with AFP" (NBCSPORTS.com, 3/7)....Former Twins VP/Marketing PATRICK KLINGER has launched Patrick Klinger & Co., a sports marketing activation firm (Patrick Klinger & Co.)....The CHL Denver Cutthroats named cycling's USA Pro Challenge Senior VP/Marketing & Operations BEN RIFKIN President (Cutthroats)....Kansas State Univ. named Bowling Green State Univ. Assistant AD/Football CLINT DOWDLE Assistant AD/Administration (KSU)....Raycom Sports named GARY BLITZER Sales Dir and MEG LITTLE Client Services Manager. Blitzer will work out of Atlanta and Little out of Raycom's HQs in Charlotte (Raycom Sports).
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In Akron, Nate Ulrich reports the Browns are "on board" for the film "Draft Day," provided reported plans for the new KEVIN COSTNER film to be shot in Cleveland come to fruition. Browns President ALEC SCHEINER said, "It’s a great thing for the city. It’s a great thing for the team. The NFL has totally blessed this." Costner originally was "set to star as a fictitious general manager of the Buffalo Bills, but ... he’ll now portray a GM of the Browns" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 3/8).
COURT REPORT: A Jackson County, Kan. jury "sided with the Chiefs on Wednesday, ruling the NFL organization did not discriminate against a former employee when he was fired." Former Maintenance Manager STEVE COX claimed that he was "terminated in 2010 because of his age -- he was 61 at the time." Two additional age-discrimination lawsuits against the Chiefs, both "brought by former employees who also believe they were wrongfully terminated, remain headed for trial" (K.C. STAR, 3/7)....Former NFLer CHRIS ZORICH on Thursday was charged with misdemeanor federal offenses for "allegedly failing to file federal income taxes for four years" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/8)....
TYING THE KNOT: MICHAEL JORDAN appears "ready to get married again," this time to his longtime girlfriend YVETTE PRIETO. Jordan "appeared at the main Palm Beach County courthouse Thursday morning to apply for a marriage license" (AP, 3/7)....LEBRON JAMES will "wed fiancee and high-school sweetheart SAVANNAH BRINSON during the weekend of Sept. 13-15 in San Diego" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 3/7).
NAMES: Sources said that Flyers D CHRIS PRONGER has "GM material written all over him." He already has been "helping Flyers GM PAUL HOLMGREN this year, scouting players on video for Philadelphia and watching the odd junior game" (ESPN.com, 3/7)....South Carolina DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY on Thursday said that he has obtained a $5M insurance policy "through the NCAA" (POSTANDCOURIER.com, 3/7)....Fox Sports' JOE BUCK recently "lorded over the peak of Tanzania's 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro." He said that he "wouldn't do it again and would 'rather go see a movie'" (USA TODAY, 3/8)....Warriors co-Owner JOE LACOB "sold his luxury condo" on the Las Vegas Strip to a local casino exec," taking a loss of more than $1M on the deal (VEGASINC.com, 3/7)....Baseball HOFer ERNIE BANKS, Pro Football HOFer RICHARD DENT, Ravens LB BRENDON AYANBADEJO and former NFLer HUNTER HILLENMEYER wrote a letter stating the Illinois General Assembly "should act now and give same-sex couples the freedom to marry" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 3/7)....TSN analyst BOB MCKENZIE on Thursday "passed the 500,000 follower threshold" on Twitter. He "averages 300-plus new followers every day" (TSN.ca, 3/7)....Patriots TE ROB GRONKOWSKI on Thursday was a "celebrity model" at a Neiman Marcus soiree and fashion show to benefit the Art beCAUSE Breast Cancer Foundation (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/8).