It's Time For Bettman to Go

The upcoming outdoor game is drawing a great deal of excitement in the hockey world, and that is good. But I happen to think it is being handled very stupidly by the league office. It is yet another mistake in the horror that has been Gary Bettman’s tenure as commissioner.The current state of the game as a clutch and grab circus is enough for fans to want Gary Bettman sacked worse than Mike Keenan. But if you don’t think there’s anything wrong with the game, then consider this opinion.

Hockey is struggling to find any identity at all with fans in the USA. I am an avid American hockey fan and I know there are many like me. But when televised games are getting worse ratings than World’s Strongest Man reruns from 1985, it doesn’t take neurosurgeon to figure out that something is wrong. Anybody whose favorite team is broadcast in their local market by Fox Sports Net has to know what I’m talking about. Are any of you tired of the constant plugging of that stupid poker tournament on Thanksgiving? There are hockey games to be played on that day.

What does this have to do with the outdoor game? Plenty. While the game is the only thing that matters in Canada, I’ll bet that most Americans don’t even know it is taking place. How soon we forget the Michigan-Michigan State outdoor game.

Instead of promoting the hell out of this game in the USA and subsequently televising it, the NHL is again going unnoticed. This is a great opportunity to show everyone the great roots of hockey and how exciting it can be. Those of us who are lucky enough to have the NHL Center Ice package will likely have a chance to watch it, but where does that leave the fans the game needs to attract?

How could this have been rectified? Well, one way was to make the Montreal-Edmonton game the only one on the schedule for Saturday so that fans who are loyal to their team wouldn’t have to miss it because their squad is playing at the same time. Earlier in the week, the only game on the docket was Buffalo at Ottawa. Why not do some creative scheduling to enable all hockey fans the chance to watch? Another way would have been to do an outdoor game in both countries. How about a Colorado-Detroit outdoor game in Michigan, where the college game was such a hit. The game’s best rivalry, highly promoted, in front of 50,000 fans and televised nationally. If you don’t like those teams, pick two more American teams.

The point is, Bettman and his cronies had a golden opportunity to expose non-hockey fans in the USA to our great sport. Instead, most Americans that care will have to read about the game online and watch short video clips on SportsCenter. And those that don’t care don’t even know it’s happening.

As for me, I’ll watch the first 2 hours on Center Ice until my Avalanche begin their game against Los Angeles, because the scheduling goons (the same ones who have somehow managed to keep the Maple Leafs from coming to Denver for six straight seasons) decided to test my commitment to my team. But you can bet your rear I’ll be switching back during commercials. Especially if they are promoting stupid poker tournaments.

So, many thanks, Mr. Bettman. Your services are no longer required. Why don’t you and Bob Goodenow have a Celebrity DeathMatch and maybe we can have a hockey season in 2004-05. So long as it doesn’t conflict with the 2004 Thanksgiving Poker Tournament.

15 Responses to It's Time For Bettman to Go

  1. jerzjayme says:

    the first blame also has to be put on ESPN, where according to them hockey is “made in america, delivered on thursdays”

    maybe they should have played the game on a thursday


  2. Habfanforever says:

    Bettman is not only ruining hockey for American fans.

    He’s trying to Americanize it when it has its own identity.

    The outdoor game was a great success with huge ratings due to Canadian hockey fans feeling that outdoor atmosphere, reminiscing about the good old days. I mean who hasn’t played pond hockey in wintertime? Who hasn’t walked in from -20 celsius with icecles haging from their noses only to sit in front of hockey night in Canada with a mug of beer, coffee or hot chocolate? That’s what it’s all about. The traditions. Bettman is tearing them down. If they could do an outdoor game between Detroit and Colorado in Michigan, it would be the best thing for American fans. Start traditions, get people the feeling of the whole hockey atmosphere.

    If it would be broadcast in the states, I’ll bet ESPN would give a damn.

  3. Muniac says:

    I have felt all along that the NHL has been changed to “attract” the US market and in doing so has made it not only boring but dangerous for the players.

    Clutching and grabbing and the “stickwork” we see has slowed the game down BUT we aren’t having the fights anymore that made hockey so unable to be promoting south of the border.

    I guess they never heard of the “Broadstreet Bullies” and Gordie Howe was not one to take anything off of anybody.

    The talented players are “targets” nowadays with no “Semenko’s” allowed to make you reget touching the “great ones”.

    Bettman’s not hockey, sure his son plays it, big deal. I agree that it’s time to put a hockey man in charge.

    Make the NHL the National Hockey League it used to be.

  4. defenestrate says:

    I know! Let’s start a petition!

  5. wingsrock34 says:

    maybe its better most americans didnt see the game will all the hype it had i dont think the game lived up to it (i am american, a red wing fan and did see the game thanks to CBC) and it would have given then a negative first impression to the “new american fan market” people are talking about

  6. Donovan says:

    I watched it, and enjoyed it greatley. One question;

    What did they keep calling those things under the players helmets? I’ve worn one for year and just keep calling it a ‘hat’.

    PS- Cherry is going to have a fit after tonights Simpsons Hockey Dad thing.

  7. brewstar03 says:

    Great article. I can’t stand Gary Bettman and his constant talking about how the game of hockey is perfect right now. You know the game is a mess when guys and heroes like Mario Lemieux and Guy Lafleur and Wayne Gretzky complain about how the game is being played and handled. Vote Bettman off the island.

  8. Showerhead says:

    it’s called a toque! rhymes with fluke. i think it’s a Canadian word only.. and it looks french so it probably came from Quebec.

  9. wingsrock34 says:

    ya one of the only funny parts of the simpsons Malcom on the other hand was hilarious i totally related to that

  10. Jack_Laviolette says:

    Théo wore a “Tuque” (ph.:-tuuke-) over his mask, and a “Cagoule” (ph.:-ka-ghoul-) under it. Players also had “Mitaines” (ph.:-me-ten-) under their gloves but I did not see any “Foulards” (ph.:-foo-lard-) on their necks.

    Don’t miss next week’s French Pick-Up Lines Breviary – learn how to score in french!

  11. HabsNick says:

    I also believe Bettman had his chance and missed it by a mile. Let’s trade him and Goodenow for a few draft picks and… okay, let’s just get rid of em.

    Bettman’s error lied into trying to make hockey popular by making it more like football and basketball. Hockey mustn’t have to be changed to become popular, it shouldnt try to take the place of football in the heart of americans because that just wont work. Don’t say “Hockey is like football, only more fun, watch it instead” but more like “Hockey is different than football but it’s also very enjoyable, how about you pick a team you like and watch them too? It’s a lot more fun than watching a sitcom right?”

    What they need is to *teach* people to like hockey, it needs fans like you guys to grab your friends and acquaintances and show them how hockey is fun. The whole Fox puck business “because americans have trouble following the puck on screen” was a load of BS, I seriously don’t think the whole american people have worse eyes than canadians. It needs people like you to tell them how the game is played, how the game was played, all the great moments throughout hockey’s history.

    They need to have 5 minutes capsules in between periods that shows how the game is played, and show great moments of hockey. Be it the Miracle on Ice, Guy Lafleur streaming down the ice, Gretzky’s thousands of points.

    Now hockey fans, go out and teach! bring people to watch hockey and tell em why it’s great!

  12. MoscowDynamo says:

    Could not agree more with every word! Bettman is a detriment to the NHL. Finally, a topic every fan who knows something about hockey can agree upon! Gary must go!

    Praise CBC! (I’m lucky enough to live in a border city that receives perfect reception, rendering ESPN a laughable waste of time).

  13. Megaroset says:

    The tribe has spoken.

  14. Sands says:

    I looked all over for this game on ESPN… all over… could not find it. Bettman does suck and i agree with this post. Good post and keep it up.

  15. Primis says:


    While I understand the ideas and frustration behind them, your demands and expectations really are too silly when you consider a couple things:

    #1) On the weekend at this time of year, In the US, FOOTBALL IS GOD. College football on Thursdays and Saturdays, NFL on Sundays and Mondays. And you really can’t change that unfortunately. Football is too unique a sport — 16 games a year, one game a week, then a short playoffs (or bowls in college). The NHL can’t take that on. The NBA can’t take that on. Heck, MLB probably couldn’t take that on.

    #2)The NHL and hockey in general have a LOT of competiton outside of football. The NBA is in full swing now and with a certain demographic you’re not going to be able to penetrate that. And quite frankly the NHL would have been able to maybe make some strides but ESPN got the rights to the NBA and… so guess who’s second-fiddle again.

    What competition does the NHL have there? The CFL is over already, even… In the US, it has to deal with NCAA Football AND Hoops, NFL, NBA, the end and beginning of the ever-growing-in-popularity NASCAR season, the end and beginning of the MLB season… just to name a few…

    #3) Seriously now, how is Bettman any worse than David Stern, Paul Tagliabue, or Bud Selig? Well for one, I can guarantee you Betteman is doing a phenomenal job with his sport compared to Bud Selig with MLB. I don’t see Bettman stepping in and literally deciding the rules for outcomes of games, and I don’t see Bettman’s family owning a franchise in the lague he’s commissioner of.

    Bettman doesn’t have Problem Children[tm] like everyone on the Portland Trailblazers, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Shaq…

    Bettman doesn’t have mounting evidence of Owner Collusion to deal with like MLB is undergoing…

    Bettman doesn’t have rampant problems with kids graduating high school and then being drafted #1 with all the hyp in the universe centered on them (hello Lebron)…

    Bettman doesn’t have an ever-growing public microscope staring at the league drug policy, with accusation of THG, HGH, andro, etc, while turning a blind eye anyways (hi there MLB, NFL).

    Bettman doesn’t have Patrice Brisebois publicly making fun of Saku Koivu’s cancer like Kenyon Martin made fun of Alonzo Mourning’s kidney disease in a practice…

    …need I continue?…

    Are there problems? Yes. Are they all Bettman’s fault? No.

    Owners have been too stupid with their teams, is that HIS fault too? Officials won’t call the rules right, and the league refuses to crack down on the officials the way the NFL is starting to do to theirs (that’d be Van Hellemond’s fault though as Head of Officials, not Bettman’s). Just to name a few.

    Really the biggest problems trace STRAIGHT BACK TO THE OWNERS. They are the ones who ultimately decide on things like an outdoor game, or when a team plays (they don’t make the schedules, no, but they can complain about arena availability and lack thereof because they’ve already made other committments).

    You really want to improve the league? Yank Bill Wirtz the hell out of Chicago and get someone with an IQ above 7 in there. Go up and smack the NYR ownership for putting a team with Eric Lindros, Brian Leetch, Pavel Bure, Mark Messier, Alexei Kovalev, Anson Carter, etc, on the ice for years now and still having them completely suck. Complain to your team’s owner on high ticket prices, or for choosing to black out home games for stupid reasons (again, hello Bill Wirtz).

    Maybe instead of looking for one single scapegoat everyone needs to start pointing the fingers at their own teams’ owners and management. They ultimately put the product on the ice, market it locally, pay the salaries, decide the ticket prices, deal with the arenas… not the league.

    But no… you guys are all copping out, looking for the one sacrificial lamb to appease gods to save them from disease, instead of actually trying to heal and eliminate the disease from within the entire herd… and then you’re all going to bitch and whine and moan when the stupid sacrifice doesn’t work.

    It makes no sense. Your cries for Bettman’s head make no sense. Your excuses make no sense. You’re all bandwagonning on a wagon going nowhere.

    If you all really cared, and were REALLY taking interest in the league, you’d start AT HOME, WITH YOUR TEAM, AND YOUR OWNER, and ask yourself what they’re doing to promote the game…

    — Primis.

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