Gary Bettman has a target on his back. A big, fat one, written in bold, black colour so that everyone can see.
For the last 4 months, Bettman, the National Hockey League’s commissioner, has deprived hockey fans from watching their sport, being heavily involved in the third NHL lockout in his nearly 20 years as head of the league.
North American sports fans are no strangers to lockouts and the old headline of Money-Hungry Owners Vs. Money-Hungry Players, and as always, nobody wins.
But take a blind guess at who lost again for the third time in 2 decades? That’s right, us, the fans.
This time is much different than 2004-2005, when the entire season was wiped out. Many players had left to play in Europe, most notably the Kontinental Hockey League, based Russia and surrounding countries.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals superstar, had previously scared us all when he hinted that him and other Russian players wouldn’t come back. While Ovechkin did come back this week for the start of training camp, others, such as former Anaheim Ducks and now-New Jersey Islander Lubomir Visnovsky has already said he’s staying in the KHL for the remainder of this season.
Back to Bettman, though. While in the last few seasons, the NHL has enjoyed a great period, party due to the brilliant idea of the Winter Classic, one of the highlights of the Bettman era.
Since the first Winter Classic in 2008, popularity has soared. I don’t remember a single season before 2012 when the playoffs were getting so much attention.
Ultimately, though, the cancellation of the Winter Classic, and 4 months of the season has been a big blow to the sport of hockey in general. While the NHL lockout might not be all Bettman’s fault, the majority of the blame has to fall on him.
There’s a lot of articles going around the internet about what the NHL should give back to the NHL, including the free gift of NHL GameCenter Live, lowered prices on tickets and merchandise, and countless other things.
While all those things, as I’m sure everyone would agree, would be great, do you know what I really want? The ouster of Gary Bettman.
Whether it be by his resignation, or any other form, I want him out, and out now.
If the NHL really wants to send an apology and a positive message to their fans, it all starts from the top.
The patience of hockey fans is weaning thin, and and top of the dismissal of Bettman, I think the NHL owes the hockey fans of the world by releasing whichever players wish to play in the IIHF World Championships in May. While I understand what that means, potentially releasing their best players in the middle of the playoffs, that’s how much the NHL owes its fans.
Will teams do that? Of course not, but with a strange schedule this year, the playoffs may end early. Still, hockey has some of the world’s greatest fans, and the NHL just isn’t doing them justice.
So I would run away, Gary Bettman, before you and your league get run away.