UnitedHealthcare Health insurance that includes all Western PA hospitals
Monday October 5 2015
Leave this field empty.

Just a Tool

PSR Logo
Gary Bettman is a tool. Please, hold your applause until the end. Fans and players alike are quick to hurl a litany of defamatory and derogatory digs at the NHL Commissioner of two decades.

His distaste among the sport’s most loyal is on display annually when his Stanley Cup presentation is drowned out by a chorus of boos. Bettman hates hockey, Canadians and cameras. He is a basketball bigwig considered a cancer to the very league he serves. And certainly, he will kill the NHL if he hasn’t already.

Did I get that right?

One footnote that escapes the Bettman critics, though, is all the good he’s done for the sport. And, as far as the damage, how much is he to blame?

The current work stoppage is the NHL’s third since the former New York lawyer was announced as commissioner. Dating back to his 1992 inauguration, the league has lost nearly 2,500 games due to lockouts. That total amounts to almost 10 percent of all scheduled NHL contests under his reign. If that doesn’t impress you, maybe this will: no other North American professional sports league has even lost 1,000 games in the last 20 years.

Here are some more numbers for you.

When Bettman was hired as a young NBA executive to direct a flailing NHL, the sport was totalling $400 million per year in revenue. That figure is nearly $3 billion below what the league’s total earnings are now. The big boost can partly be credited to a $2 billion television deal with NBC –– a contract that likely wouldn’t have been available had Bettman caved to ESPN in 2005.

Even struggling teams are generating hundreds of millions of dollars each season. The average NHL organization is now worth $282 million according to Forbes. Quite impressive considering that total is just $118 million less than the entire league’s revenue was 20 years ago.

Not convinced? Examine the Phoenix Coyotes, for a second. Team finances have increased by 69% over the past decade, according to Time Magazine. Bettman also worked considerably with the begrudging city to keep the franchise in town for the near future. Certainly Penguins fans don’t forget his relentless work to stop our own organization from moving to Kansas City; it is perhaps the only thing keeping Pittsburghers interested in the NHL labor negotiations these days.

While we are on the subject of Southwest hockey, let’s take a look at another suggested flaw of the commissioner’s.

Far too often Bettman is blamed for failing franchises south of the Mason-Dixon. Plans for expansion, however, were rooted long before his tenure commenced. Only Nashville and Atlanta founded organizations under his watch. One is thriving; the other has been relocated to a booming capital in the country he ‘hates’.

Perhaps the biggest sign of success is the growth of youth hockey in non-traditional markets.

Arizona has seen a nearly 2,000 person boost over the last ten years. California now has more than 20,000 youth hockey players and is responsible for producing the Penguins 2010 first round draft pick. Florida calculated more than 800 percent growth since 2000 and hockey-haven Minnesota—who was awarded a new franchise at Bettman’s urging—has over 50,000 youth hockey players. In all, USA Hockey has grown by nearly 150 percent since the early 1990’s, according to Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey.

Somehow though, three lockouts outweigh all the progress Bettman has made. If it was accurate to blame him for the work stoppages, then the criticism would be justified. But, the commissioner is simply a mouthpiece for the owners who refuse to honor the outlandish contracts they distributed. His job is to please those men, even if he may not agree with the strategy. Don’t forget, it was Bettman who fought the Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and Chris Pronger signings.

So, next time you blame the commissioner for hunting replacing hockey on television, remember, he is a just a tool.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington added five pieces to the roster before the trade deadline at the end of July.
Feature OneNorth Shore Notes
Mt. Pleasant senior student-athlete Madison Kromer was honored with the CoGo's High School Sports Unsung Hero Award Friday night at Vikings Stadium.
Feature TwoHigh SchoolPress Room
As the leaves start to fall and the temperature begins to drop, it’s clear that high school football season is finally here. Western Pennsylvania is loaded with talent, which should make the next three months quite entertaining for high school football fans in the region.
Feature ThreeHigh School
Allderdice improved to 3-2 with a 50-8 win over Pittsburgh City League foe Carrick at Cupples Stadium on the South Side Friday night.
Feature FourHigh SchoolHSCOGOS2014Top Story
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 1 Steelers TV Channel
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 2Xfinity HS FootballHigh School TV Channel
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 3PSR Video PiratesPirates TV Channel
Only the Bengals were winners Week 1 in the AFC North, as the Steelers had no defense, the Ravens had no offense and the Browns did not have very much on either side of the ball.
Custom 1Pure Steel
On the heels of a dismal 4-8 season in 2013—and seated firmly upon the hotseat—head coach Dana Holgorsen was able to steer the West Virginia football program back in the right direction in 2014.
Custom 2WVU
In western Pennsylvania, football is the sport that the natives follow most closely, and with two major programs, Pitt and Penn State, most of the attention is divided among the two of them.
Custom 3Small Colleges
With Week 1 in the books, there are plenty of storylines to keep an eye on as the 2015 season chugs along.
Custom 4Pure Steel