I’m not sure if you’ve heard this or not, but not everyone loves Gary Bettman. The anger and frustration so many fans feel while hockey continues to not be played has to be directed somewhere, and the current commish has willingly made himself the target, taking the heat off, well, almost everyone and everything else.

Few public figures can be the object of so much scorn and keep their position for too long, so some day, somewhere down the road, Gary Bettman will hang up his commishing boots, take his shmillions of dollars, and go do whatever the hell it is that he likes to do in his spare time (skin kittens?).

So, given that yesterday was election day (yay/boo your guy won/lost!), we here at Backhand Shelf figured it’d be a good day to asses who would be the most popular replacement in the eyes of us, the fans.

The candidates:

Brian Burke

His Wikipedia page tells his story pretty clearly:

After graduating, Burke became an NHL player agent. In 1987, he was hired by Pat Quinn to be the Director of Hockey Operations for the Vancouver Canucks. In the 1992–93season, he left that job to become General Manager of the Hartford Whalers. Burke stepped down[4] after one year in Hartford, so he could join the NHL front office as executive vice president and director of hockey operations, under league commissioner Gary Bettman.

Plenty of ties – that resume is basically a homerun for the office of NHL commissioner (I have to believe he’s already more involved than we know he is in League affairs). He’s been on both sides of the League, knows the inner-workings of the business side, and is plenty smart enough. To top it all off, he wouldn’t pansify (that’s a word today) up our NHL. Truculence!

Bill Daly

The current Number Two at the NHL, Daly has been Bettman’s right-hand man for long enough that he knows exactly how things work, for better or worse. He’s had the ultimate internship for the position, has seen which strings to pull when, and the fact that he’s currently moving along the CBA negotiations is another feather in his cap (assuming they get it done). Also, he scares me for some reason, so I had to include him.


Brendan Shanahan

Shanny has experience as a player, and has recently been climbing the front office ranks of the NHL, currently serving as the league’s Vice President of Hockey and Business Development and head disciplinarian. The role he’s taken over isn’t an easy one, and much like the head of NFL discipline, he’s in favour of keeping the game rough and tumble. If that’s what the NHL wants – and it likely does, as they quietly know some violence sells – then he’s done everything they’ve asked of him, and could keep moving up the ladder.


Ken Holland

Any time you have an organization that’s only known success, you have to find the common thread. Here’s your reason. The Red Wings executive has kept Detroit at the top of the “best organizations in hockey list” with his even temperament and smart decisions. He’s a thoughtful, intelligent dude that I think would be a great fit for the role.


Mike Murphy

Murphy is currently the senior vice president of hockey operation for the NHL, and has a long history with the league. He’s been a player (556 points, all-star game included), he’s been a coach with the Kings, Canucks, Senators, Rangers, and Maple Leafs, and has been in the NHL front office for awhile now (you know him from a controversial call in the 2010 playoffs). That resume might be enough to get him the job.



Ron MacLean

Ha, okay, not happening, the NHL probably hates him. STILL: if this were a fan vote, I wouldn’t brush him aside too quickly. He’s got plenty of experience dealing with the league, he’s been a ref, he’s a smart guy…Okay I can’t even talk myself into this one.



Lou Lamiorello

 If we found some leaked emails in the next few days that said Lou has been secretly running the league all these years anyway, you’d be zero percent shocked. He’s already heavily consulted by the League, and has been in the game since he was a fallen angel and launched the successful, always-growing business, Hell.


Bobby Orr

This one’s not happening for the sheer reason that Orr would never want the job (though the pay has to be pretty enticing). But he’s A) a beloved public figure, B) been involved in the game all his life and C): been in the player agent business since 1996, and is now president of the Orr Hockey Group agency that currently represents 30 active NHLers.


If you have any other suggestions as to who would be a good candidate (David Stern is free, I hear. Maybe some young savvy businessman? Or, gasp, businessWOman??), leave it in the comments, and click “other.” Let’s see who fans would most like to see take over the very difficult office Gary Bettman currently sits in.

Comments (18)

  1. I voted Lou on party lines, but I don’t think he’d take the job, even if it was offered to him. He’s no spring chicken, and his legacy is in New Jersey.

    I would be very happy if Burke took over, but I don’t see that in the cards. To the owners, Burke is too much of a wild card. They want someone in there who will do their bidding and make them money, not the best person for the sport of hockey, sadly.

    • Nice all of our choices but one were hockey guys. Running a league and running a team are two different things. The NHL is in its best position due to having a non hockey guy run it. Look at the NFL, they are not picking concussed old middle linebackers to run it. NBA, MLB, all choose guys who can run things bigger than a team. Before you pounce on old Bud, he made his money before buying the Brewers. I think it would be smarter to look at owners who run businesses, and well run teams. Red Wings, Jets, and Hawks, would be better choices then the ones listed.

  2. How about Don Cherry. If I’m going to have a commissioner who’s a bumbling fool, I want him to have some gusto. Plus, if he’s in office, Brian Burke can’t go behind him and screw him out of his job. Oh Wait…..

    • Don Cherry is my top choice for his strong personality – he’ll get everybody in line in a hurry, even if he ruffles a few feathers. Plus he can draw (American) attention to the NHL with his brash nature alone – they may or may not buy though.

      Wayne Gretzky is my second choice. On top of being the greatest player ever, he is diplomatic, down to earth, respected, and very astute. He cares enough about the game, the league (from owners to players), and even the fans and would do everything to make the best possible decisions for them all (even if he can’t please everyone).

  3. other: Scotty Bowman, i know he’s old but i would throw his hat in if the owners had a mutiny and got rid of bettman before his current extension expires and they needed a quick fix/mediator. even still i would go with other and put in Stevey Y. if shanny is in consideration no reason stevey shouldnt be but lack of qualifications make this seem like a long shot. i will say this, i hate burke as a g.m. but as a commissioner i would love it because i would have way more basis for hating him.

  4. I couldn’t vote for Ken Holland only because I am a Red Wings fan, and we can’t let him go anywhere… ever…

  5. I think Burke would be the best for the game, and he is who I would vote for. Living in NY, my vote for the top position (President) doesn’t really matter much though. I voted for Burke.

    I’d put money on Daly getting the job if/when Bettman’s time is up though.

  6. …Whimsical as it may seem, I would nominate Ken Dryden.

    He has all of the necessary qualifications and has expressed some very sensible opinions about the financial competitiveness, integrity and safety of the game.

    I believe he’d restore a great deal of goodwill and lost dignity and would be respected by fans, players, owners and the media.

  7. Even though Burke might not be best Gm he is the perfect candidate. He cares for player safety, he is a nonsense guy, he has principles (even though he pisses leaf fans)

  8. If you want an ex-player(s), pack the front office with Sutter brothers. Hard working, straight talking and not afraid of getting hands dirty. How different is the NHL from ranching anyway?

  9. Greg wyshynski the voice of the people

  10. I elect Steve Kouleas…

  11. Jeremy Roenick. It sure would be entertaining.

  12. Second the Ken Dryden nomination, but obviously it needs to be Tim Thomas. Seriously though, I’ll throw Dick Patrick’s name into the hat. grandson of Lester Patrick, 3rd generation hockey guy, deserving winner of the Lester Patrick award for “outstanding service to Hockey in the United States”, former chairman of the NHL Finance committee, and current partner with Ted Leonsis’ Washington Capitals. And finally we can get the old Patrick division back.

  13. mitt romney since his schedule is pretty open the next 4 years

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *