Brooks : Bettman’s Blown It

Posted in Hockey at 5:55 pm by

While avowed labor union opponent Dino Costa has repeatedly praised NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for his inflexibility during the league’s current suicide mission, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks is slightly more in touch with life on Planet Earth, declaring the game’s “Canceler-In-Chief” to be “the Igor Ulanov of pro sports commissioners.”

Bettman is willing to take the monumental risk of canceling yet another season as opposed to the meager rewards of limiting players to seven-year contracts and refusing transition rules that might cost NHL owners comparative pennies weighed against the cost of the second canceled season in the last eight years of his regime.

I would defy any owner to explain why the season should be canceled over the difference of one or three years in maximum contract lengths in the current proposals of the NHL and the NHLPA.

The league’s proposed contract term limits are meant to devalue free agency. The league acts as if players spent the seven seasons under the expired collective bargaining agreement fleeing small markets for big markets even as all available evidence contradicts the theory.

There is also the NHL’s take-it-or-leave-it refusal to accept transition rules regarding amnesty buyouts and the 2013-14 cap that would present clubs mechanisms with which to comply to the new CBA. Rather, the league seems intent on punishing teams that obeyed every rule in the book while spending money in attempting to build champions.

5 responses to “Brooks : Bettman’s Blown It”

  1. Brooks is laboring under the popular misconception that it’s Bettman’s responsibility to find a solution that creates labor peace and brings hockey to the fans. That is wrong. Garry Bettman’s job is to protect the financial interests of the owners of the franchises.

  2. GC says:

    Bettman supervising hockey’s slide from 4th place amongst North American pro sports to somewhere between greyhound racing and cockfighting is probably not to the financial interests of franchise owners.

  3. WeWantheFunk says:

    It’s safe to assume based on their hard-line stance up to this point that the owners consider the potential fallout from a cancelled or shortened season to be an acceptable tradeoff for getting their way CBA wise.
    And quite frankly, why shouldn’t they? Fans in traditional hockey markets are going to come back like a mistreated girlfriend to a returning ex (he’s sorry. He means it. This time it’ll be different, honey, just give me a chance. Don’t you want it to be like it used to be? I do. You know I do.)
    Fans in the non-traditional markets never cared in the first place, so there isn’t anything to lose. I could be wrong about that, and I’d welcome some input from someone in Miami, Tampa, Nashville, etc. But here in Vancouver, it doesn’t matter. People are going to be mad, but I really can’t see them getting mad enough to quit showing up, watching on TV, etc.

  4. GC says:

    I don’t think your hypothesis is incorrect. However, if that is indeed, the stance of a majority of owners, I think it’s pretty shortsighted. Presuming the players fold before losing a second consecutive season, I think you’re right about (most) fans in hockey-crazy towns coming back. But I also suspect Bettman is stunting the long-term growth of the sport. Some of those fans are currently learning how easy it is to get thru a winter without the NHL as they might be interested in more than one sport.

    Not to get all weepy on you, but I also think anytime a work stoppage results in something as extreme as an entire season being cancelled, you’re denying fans the kind of moments that change someone from a casual fan to full-fledged drooling obsessive. I don’t mean a Wild/Predators game in November, nor do I mean the Skills Competition or even the Winter Classic. Barring an unlikely resolution, Bettman will soon have presided over 2 full-season assassinations in 8 years when no other North American major professional sports league has suffered even one.

  5. WeWantheFunk says:

    I don’t think you’re wrong about them missing out on the long term growth, in terms of hooking fans. The playoffs and cup finals are arguably the only parts worth watching and I’d wager they’re responsible for the majority of new fan interest and growth of existing fan interest – especially in non-traditional markets. However, I really don’t think that said lost interest weighs all that much to the owners, collectively, compared to a new CBA that keeps their player costs under control. I also get the feeling that the NHL doesn’t feel like they’re ever going to beat basketball and football, but that there’s really nothing waiting to take over their market. If that’s the case, they’re third fiddle when they leave, and third fiddle when they get back – from their perspective there’s nothing to lose. (Again, that doesn’t mean they’re right.)
    Fan interest waxes and wanes, and it’s something that can come back. When it does come back, the only way it means anything to the owners is if the labour costs are beat down to a point that they’re seeing the amount of gravy they want.

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