After reading the title of this post you probably think I'm nuts for attempting to tackle a subject like this, you're right I am nuts. But I am writing this post in honor of a dear friend who passed away last week. If you're on twitter chances are you've probably tweeted with or heard of Patricia Thoms. She was a follower of mine and a huge supporter of my writing, and by huge I mean never missing a single article. But she was also a friend and one of the nicest people I've ever come across. When I had my contest on my FaceBook fanpage 2 month ago, Patricia submitted an idea and her idea was:
It's a pretty tough topic to cover and because of that I picked another topic instead. But Patricia knew I could tackle this subject, and I've decided to give it a try in her honur. Here we go:
There's people who believe he's done a fantastic job and others who want him fired, either way Gary Bettman has made quit an impression on the NHL. But with this latest lockout he has taken the game into, more and more people are calling for his head. So to satisfy those people let's take a look at what the NHL
would be like without Bettman.
For myself being so young it's almost impossible for me to fathem a NHL without Bettman, as he's been the commissioner for my entire life. I grew up learningthat Bettman was a jerk who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted, including sacrificing the fans. Over his 19 year tenure of the league the game of hockey has drastically changed. A salary cap was implemented, more teams were planted south of the boarder, they signed a television deal with NBC and who could forget the 3 lockouts the game has faced. One thing that can not be refuted is the growth of the NHL under Bettman's reign. He has turned the NHL into a multi-billion dollar business and has convinced NBC to carry hockey games to help the game reach more people in America. One could argue that right now, aside from the lockout, the NHL is in the best position it's ever been in terms of popularity and fan support. Love him or hate him, the game right now is because of him and he's done a lot of good.
Unfortunetly the good he's done has been over shadowed by some of his less brilliant moves and as a result not a lot people like him, in fact many believe it's time for him to move on. Due to the fact he is so unpopular and my task in this article is to talk about life without him, I'm going to talk about 3 things that would be different in the NHL if Bettman had never been NHL commissioner.
1. US Expanantion
When Bettman took over the NHL his goal was to expand the NHL, particularly in America. When he took over the NHL was functioning with 24 teams, he added 6 more and re-located 4 other franchises, 3 of which left Canada and landed in the US. His decision to focus on southern markets and move teams to "non traditional hockey markets" has earned him a lot of criticism as many of the teams placed in smaller markets are losing money. One could say his focus on expanding the game into places it shouldn't have been taken is the reason behind this latest lockout, as smaller market teams are crying poor looking for support. While you can't say there would be less teams in the states if Bettman had never taken over, it's a safe bet to assume they wouldn't be in such small markets. Who knows under a new commisioner would we see more Canadian teams? His goal to take hockey to the small markets may just be his dimise.
2. Donald Fehr as NHLPA Head
The moment the NHLPA hired Fehr to help them negotiate a new CBA is the moment the 2012-2013 season became jepordized. The reason the NHLPA hired the man responsible for ruining the MLB is
because Bettman and the owners pushed around and took advantage of the players during the 2004-2005 lockout. As a result the players were determined to not let that happen again and decided to bring in the big guns to stand up for them. How's this for a resume; 6 of the last 8 union contract negotiations Fehr has been involved with have involved work stoppages, not good news for fans holding out optimism. If Bettman (or another comissioner) hadn't taken advantage of the players last time, we probably wouldn't be witnessing a spitting match between two egotistic men.
3. Salary Cap
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with having a hard salary cap as I love the parity in the league right now. Virtually every team enters the season with a chance to succeed and challenge for the Stanley Cup and without the salary cap that wouldn't be the case. There would be 5 teams that would dominate the league and the rest would be left in the dust. The main reason for the last lockout was because the owners and Bettman wanted to put a hard salary cap into place so teams would have a limit on how much money they gave their players. Had another comissioner not been so determined to get a salary cap, the players would be making much more and there would be no parity in the league. The rich owners would literally be buying the Stanley Cup.
There you have it folks, 3 things that would be different in the NHL if Gary Bettman wasn't around. If you didn't like this article, I'm sorry but I wrote it for a friend. At the end of the day hockey and the NHL are just a game, life extends beyond just hockey and we need to make sure we're living life to the fullest because we never know when the final buzzer will sound. Remember it's just a game, don't take it too seriously. RIP Patricia, you will be greatly missed!