The name Gary Bettman is synonymous in hockey with several things, most not suitable enough to whisper in church or repeat on the pages of this blog. Fans voice their displeasure with the league commissioner on the internet – and en masse when he is announced in attendance at an NHL arena and when he hands the Stanley Cup to the victorius team in June.
For 113 days while the National Hockey league was locked out for the third time under his tenure – Gary Bettman himself acted like the fans did not matter in this – and that the league would stand fast against the union.
Today, the commissioner apologized to the hockey word, players, owners, and to the fans.
“To the players who were very clear they wanted to be on the ice and not negotiating labour contracts, to our partners who support the league financially and personally, and most importantly to our fans, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I’m sorry,” said Bettman. “I know that an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the past few months but I owe you an apology nevertheless.”
What does that mean? Nothing to me. He had to say it. He could not walk out and announce a deal that didn’t include a personal apology for what evil wrongs he has done to the sport. I cannot put any faith in the apology however, knowing his track record, and envisioning going through the same ordeals again in ten years when this CBA expires.
Who knows, I could be wrong. Maybe he does realize that he only makes the salary he makes because his league is successful, because the average American drags his ass to an arena as often as possible, spending hard earned money that they might not be that easily parted with.
Ten years is a long time – I don’t think that Gary Bettman will make it to 30 years as league commissioner, and that could bode better for negotiations of the next CBA (am I really having this conversation with myself – the league is ramping up and I am already thinking of the next lockout? There is something wrong with me.)
How did that crow taste Mr. Bettman. I would love to see some data analysis on how much was lost while these men squabbled over dollars to play a boys game.