I love interviews between Gary Bettman and Ron MacLean. Nobody else that I’ve seen holds the NHL Commissioner’s feet to the fire the way MacLean does. Now, that’s probably because very few people have the pulpit MacLean does, but there’s no denying that he’s willing to go head to head on questions other people aren’t.
The latest instalment in the on-screen relationship between these two took place at the second intermission of last night’s Philadelphia/Chicago game, and it saw Bettman go after MacLean for asking questions about franchise values. I know not everybody agrees with how MacLean conducts these interviews, but in this case I thought he did a good job of keeping whatever personal animosity he might have for the commissioner subdued, and that it was the commissioner – if any one – who was overly confrontational.
Bettman didn’t like the questions, and he tried a bunch of different tacks to get out of them. He went from suggesting MacLean’s take on things wasn’t helpful, interpreting what his viewers wanted to see, berating MacLean for ignoring the excellent hockey in order to concentrate on business matters, and so on. Bettman’s generally a little more polished at dodging questions than that; frankly I thought it reflected badly on him.
In particular, his reaction to the southern Ontario suggestion intrigued me. Rather than address MacLean’s point about profitability – a factual and relevant point – he chose to play politics, suggesting that viewers might be offended at how little regard MacLean had for Quebec City and Winnipeg. It’s just a shame we didn’t get an answer to the question.