SBJ/Sept. 23-29, 2013/In Depth

He’s the heir apparent, but wait could be long

Bill Daly is flattered when the subject is raised of his possible future as the next commissioner of the NHL — even if that future is far down the road.

Daly has strong support from club owners and executives, who view him as the inevitable and deserving successor to Gary Bettman.

“When the time comes, Bill absolutely deserves to be commissioner,” said Mark Chipman, chairman and governor of the Winnipeg Jets.

“Having watched Gary and Bill interact for 15 years, I can tell you it appears that Bill is next up,” said Nashville Predators CEO Jeff Cogen. “If that’s the case, then our league is in good hands for the next generation.”

Daly is seen as the logical choice to succeed Commissioner Gary Bettman, but he’s content in his role.
Photo by: Getty Images
When told of the widespread support, Daly was appreciative, but made it clear where he stood.

“There are two things to know: I’m 100 percent happy with what I do here,” he said. “And Gary’s going to be here a long time, which is good for me.”

Indeed, there is no uncertainty over Bettman’s future.

“If Gary decides to take a step back someday, Bill would be great, but Gary himself has told me that he still loves what he does and hopes to do it for a long time,” said Calgary Flames co-owner and Chairman Murray Edwards.
“Any transition at the NHL isn’t happening any time soon.”

Daly wants Bettman to stay as long as he would like and pledged to be as loyal to the commissioner as Bettman has been to him.

“I love what I do and the challenges we get to face,” Daly said. “I love working with Gary. I love the sport. There’s nothing that’s pushing me away. If I never had another job in my career and retired as the deputy commissioner of the National Hockey League, it would have been a very good and satisfying career. But who knows what the future holds?”

One thing is certain: When the opportunity arises, Daly will have Bettman’s nomination.

When asked if he would recommend to the board of governors upon his departure that Daly succeed him as commissioner, Bettman said, “Of course. I have great confidence in Bill. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t be my partner.”

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