Gary Bettman is the worst commissioner of the four major sports. If he remains commissioner of the NHL for any longer, it may become the four major sports with Nascar as #4. The way things have been going since he took over in 1993, this seems increasingly likely, as he seems to have Stalinesque staying power. How can this man be in charge, having overseen two work stoppages during his tenure?
My main contention with Buttman is that neither he nor the owners in his league ever seem to think logically and get things right. I must give him credit though for the new rule changes enacted after the lockout that have made the game faster and more exciting to watch. Here is a list of grievances that highlight the idiocy of the league that must be altered for the league to continue to exist.
1) Lack of a decent television contract. The league will have a difficulty getting a contract because of its abysmal ratings, but at least get it on ESPN2, or USA, anything but Versus which many people do not even get with their cable packages.
2) Promote your stars. Yes the league has been marketing a lot with Ovechkin and Crosby, which is warranted. But the league also has players like Jagr, Kovalchuk, Thornton, Brodeur, Sakic, Hossa, and Heatley. They must also display these players and attempt to market them to fans. In addition to this, the All Star game did not include Jagr and Kovalchuk, when players who did not deserve to make it such as Rick Nash and Yanick Perrault were there because of the idiotic one player per team rule. Many players were not even on the All Star ballot, when it could have been changed online (there were no paper ballots).
3) The schedule is just abysmal and the league did nothing about it this past week. You play divisional opponents 8 times a season. It becomes boring and redundant and does nothing to create or promote rivalries. The Canadian teams rarely play each other, which are some of the fiercest rivalries in the sport. It also does little to help Western teams which need all the help they can get. The Eastern stars need to be in Western arenas more than once every 3 years to put people in the seats. After the initial excitement from the return from the lockout, leaguewide attendance is down this year. Something must be changed so that teams play each other at least once a year, yet the league remains reluctant to do anything despite much outcry from the fans.
4) He has taken fighting out of the game. Enough said.
5) He expanded too quickly and into bad markets. Raleigh, Nashville, and Columbus do not have teams in professional sports for a reason, yet they exist in the NHL. Please explain this one to me.
6) This is not such a big deal, but it just demonstrates the incompetency of the league as a whole. The league is building a store in New York similar to the NBA store that will sell tickets and team products that plans to open late in 2007. The NBA store is on 5th Avenue which is the ultimate shopping and tourist destination. Yet the NHl store is on 6th Avenue in a primarily financial and office district with little tourist pedestrian traffic.
I truly believe that someone with more common sense and some fresh thinking could do wonders for the league. Unfortunately, commissioners never seem to leave as evidenced by Bud Selig's present 18 year term and Bettman's 13 year term.
My three entries are all quite bitter. Perhaps something over the weekend will inspire me to have a more positive 4th post.