Nah, the failure in communication is internal, with what the NHL says, and what the NHL does.
Gary Bettman’s press conference last night was definitely something to watch. I’d never seen him that animated before, and anecdotes of him getting angry and stomping out of the room during negotiations seem a little more plausible. The problem is that when he speaks, he’s just been totally disingenuous, and his later actions tend to be inconsistent with his words.
It’s Thanksgiving in the land of Uncle Sam, and after yet another setback in NHL negotiations, the hockey world refuses to smile back at Gary Bettman. Not that it ever did; but it certainly seems more palpable on a day of thanks.
With people taking to the twitter machine to broadcast what they’re thankful for to the world, it is clear that nobody — literally nobody, except for maybe 30 or so very wealthy people and a couple of internet trolls — is thankful for Gary Bettman. Here is a (very) small sample of said sentiment. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been wondering since the start of the CBA negotiations why Bill Daly was the person speaking for the NHL. He’s never seemed like the ideal communicator from a PR perspective, as he occasionally comes off as condescending and can be overly blunt, flippant, or laughably obtuse at times. He’s been casually dismissive of the NHLPA and their offers, making it seem like the NHL as a whole is the same way. Frankly, I’ve felt that he often damages public perception of the NHL more than he improves it and I wondered why he was doing all the talking instead of Gary Bettman.
I have long since abandoned hope that this season is going to actually happen.
That whole thing started when I wrote a column for Puck Daddy saying I was somewhat optimistic that, given the frequency with which both sides of the labor battle were meeting prior to the NHLPA’s counterproposal — and that only came after a prolonged period of retiring to their respective corners and staring angrily at each other while firmly not-negotiating anything at all — and like three days later there was some sort of public pissing match. In retrospect I should have thought the league would swat that offer down as being far too logical and therefore unacceptable, like Dikembe Mutombo in his prime.
And the disgust on both sides seemed only to mount in the days leading up to and indeed immediately following the expiration of this past, dearly departed collective bargaining agreement. Now were Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr not only glowering at each other in meeting rooms, they were both throwing up their hands to the media like, “Do you believe I have to deal with this friggin’ guy? He’s being TOTALLY unreasonable!”
And so it was that the sides haven’t met in quite a while. There was kind of no point to it, if you want to be really pragmatic about it. Here’s how that kind of meeting would go:
Up until the NHL’s Gary Bettman era, pro sports didn’t deal with a whole ton of work stoppages. It was somewhat rare to be locked out by one of the big four sports leagues. But, since he came around….yikes.
The NHL has missed more games than any other league over the past two decades, and is on track to miss more. That’s meant that a good number of players were around for two lockouts; heading into the third of Bettman’s tenur, there are a total of 14 who will have been a part of all three. Read the rest of this entry »
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expired last Saturday, the fifteenth of September in the year of Our Lord Two-Thousand-and-Twelve. Although we knew that it was gravely ill for several months, many of us had held out hope that it might, somehow, be extended. Now we realize the futility of these hopes, and it is time to say our final farewells to the CBA that was.
It was a good CBA, full of joy and laughter. Whenever things seemed bleakest, it was always ready to cheer us up with a hilarious UFA contract or a comically one-sided trade. It was generous, too, giving ever-increasing profits to owners, cheap ELCs and bizarrely-averaged cap hits to GMs, enormous contracts to players, and unprecedented parity to fans. Truly, this was a CBA that thought always of others, sharing its largess widely and taking little for itself. The desperate rush of teams and players to sign contracts in the final hours of its life is a moving tribute to its kindness and popularity.
This video popped up online last night at some point. Chris Chelios, Cam Neely and Wayne Gretzky, a few of hockey’s major stars at the time of the first NHL lockout all the way back in 1994, all spoke up against then-new NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Until that point, the NHL only had a “president”, but when Bettman took over from Gil Stein in 1993, he became the first commissioner. We know this already, but part of the issue with Bettman, and something he’s never been able to shake off, is the idea that he’s not a hockey guy, that he’s just some American lawyer determined to take over the game. Here’s the video:
There’s a great picture, one I couldn’t find online, of Gary Bettman just after he was named commissioner. He’s sitting on a beach somewhere, a young-looking lawyer in an oversized black and orange NHL jersey and cap and the most disingenuous smile you’ll ever see. In short, not a hockey guy. Neely saw it, Gretzky saw it, but Chelios had the best comments, in retrospect:
If I was Gary Bettman I’d be worried about my family or Gary Bettman’s family I’d be worried about my well-being now. He’s going to affect a lot of people you know and some crazed fan or you know, a player you know they might take it into their own hands and figure they’d get him out of the way and things might get settled. You hate to see something like that happen but he took the job.
The main thing is he doesn’t know anything about hockey, that’s obvious. You know he doesn’t recognize players like Jeremy Roenick and Brendan Shanahan in the meetings and you know, whether it’s just little man syndrome thing or whatever…