Heated negotiations can bring out the worst in anyone, but is NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman getting a fair judgement being cast as the villain by hockey fans and the media in the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations?
Gary Bettman has been commissioner for just under twenty years, and in that time, the National Hockey League has now seen three separate work stoppages. The 1994 lockout lasted 104 days and knocked out just over eighty games, and in 2004-2005 the entire season was cancelled. Now we’re only one month into our current work stoppage situation, but cries against the owners have and Bettman have been flooding cyberspace for quite some time.
However, this is not one of those times. I’m not here to condemn the man, but I’m also not going to pardon the guy either. The commissioner does not have a fan favored record. He has a tough job, and very publicly has to make some unpopular decisions. (Would you want to anger a country full of hockey fans?) I’ve heard and seen more fan and media claims that Bettman doesn’t give a puck about #thefans, that he just wants to take advantage of #theplayers, and that he’s just a plain ol’ hockey hating meanie.
The ongoing CBA negotiations have been brutal (PR wise) on the NHL (as will always happen when the “L” word comes into play), and there was no time wasted on vilifying the owners whose only saving grace is that they have been pushing more proposals to the table to move negotiations along.
Gary Bettman has been referred to as one of the worst managers in sports, and one of the best. It’s all dependent on the outcome. These are rough patches of ice we’re skating through now, but if a solid CBA can be agreed upon on the other side of this lockout, all the better for hockey.