Under Bettmans leadership, the following has happened:
Now as I type this I'm having a dispute with an individual over at Bucsdugout.com on the successes of Gary Bettman. Why those discussions are going on over there, i haven't the foggiest. But when someone says that the aforementioned Bettman is thought kindly of in Pittsburgh, i was taken back. I haven't been in the loop per say for a few months now, but I found this a bit hard to believe. My thoughts after the jump.
Lockouts in 1994 which cut the NHL season in half from 84 to 48 games, as well as a lockout in 2004-2005 which as we all know cost and entire season. It is fair to say these two items significantly impacted TV deals in the negative and stunted the league's growth and popularity. After steadily dropping ratings from the start of his tenure to around 2004, Bettman decided to pass on a TV deal with NBC in which no money was paid upfront, instead opting to go with Versus (then named Outdoor Life Network). The only bright spot from that acquisition is that in January Comcast ( then owner of Versus) acquired NBC. And since a major TV deal with NBC has been completed. Obviously the jury is still out on this deal as to its long term benefits to the league, but one has to wonder if said deal will give the league the face time it needs, facetime that could have been gained through ESPN.
Also under Bettmans watch we have seen long time staples of the NHL relocate and subsequently relocate again. Minnesota Moved to Dallas only to have a Minnesota team pop back up seven years later. Quebec (after finally getting some support for Sakic) moved to Denver. Winnipeg moved to Pheonix, and this one is one of my pet peeves. He allowed this club to move out with out so much as batting an eyelash only to see Atlanta move to Winnipeg about a decade and change later. I am firmly convinced that the only way Winnipeg got a team back is because there was no way bettman could stop it. Now you have the NHL in conjunction with the City of Phoenix paying the expenses of the Coyotes. The argument could easily be made that If the citizens of Phoenix wanted an NHL franchise, they wouldn't have filled for Bankruptcy in 2009. So another deal was reached to keep the team in Phoenix for the upcoming year and once again its future is uncertain. Fortunately for the fans in Phoenix, there is a cap floor that must be met which is forcing the yote's to spend, otherwise it's a safe assumption that the fire sale would have already been completed. Does that mean that the team will be competitive? Not hardly, but i would assume that they will send out at least a feasible team. Columbus and Nashville are the only shining stars of the most recent expansion period, however some years ago there was even talk of Nashville picking up shop and leaving.
Finally under GB's tenure we have seen the rise, fall, and rehash of the trap, A slew of head injuries ending numerous careers and in some rare cases lives from TBI's (traumatic brain injuries) and the league's ultra slow response to the problem. We've seen the elimination of two line passes, and the possibility of touch up icing's. We have also seen a psuedo crack down on fighting, the institution of the diving penalty (which is hardly ever called), and sky-rocketing salaries. NHL justice under Bettmans tenure has been a joke, the early end to the careers of Eric Lindross (no tears from me, but some dont like it), Paul Kariya (tears from me but some say meh), and as painful as this may sound Sid's future is up in the air as well. I could go on and on with this subject. I have a TBI as well as PTSD. I find it deplorable that it took these players, and a slew of others including Colin Campbell's son to have any impact on the leagues rule change. When you see what has happened in the NFL, With returning vets like myself, and so on, to take so long to do something is unconscionable. As far as the supposed crack down on fighting, I could go either way on this. Enforcers are on the way out and have been for the last 10 years. But teams like the Penguins continue to sign one or two every off season for protection for their big stars. To me that says all that needs to be said about the league's enforcement of its crack down on fighting as well as its ability or lack there of to protect its stars.
The job of a commissioner of a league in my opinion is multi-tiered. He needs to protect his sport, grow his sport, and ensure the players and the owners are playing well together. The hiring of David Ferh tells me that isn't/won't happen. The sport has fallen mightily from its perch in the 70's and 80's to an afterthought on the four letter. only getting a 5 minute bite on occasion during sportscenter. While it's inability to grow in expansion markets such as Atlanta and Pheonix is more a testament of poor leadership from those respective franchises, its also a failure on the league office to not do everything it could to ensure those markets could succeed by approving owners who not only care about the sport but have the vision to make success happen. I have said it and I will continue to say that while publicly Bettman lobbied for the pens to stay in Pittsburgh, privately I have a hard time believing he wasn't chomping at the bit to "open up another market". Dont get me started on protecting the league, protecting this league means you protect its greatest players. Which still hasn't happened. Obviously my view on the ginger midget (i'm giving myself a +1 for the Sherlock Holmes reference) is that he has been a resounding failure for the last twenty years. For some reason Firefox wont let me attach a poll....so i guess we'll just go with comments.