I’ve been following hockey since 1971. I’ve seen the game evolve from a “northern” sport to a multi-regional sport. There are teams in Florida, California, North Carolina and even Arizona. The sport has grown from a beat em up smash mouth sport, to a more finesse game.
My first love was Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins. They have and always will be my true love in hockey. But the Washington Capitals have grown on me as my regional favorites. The Bruins gave me a thrill not felt since the 2000-2001 Ravens Superbowl run when they won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
My hockey interest accelerated in the early eighties with the proliferation of cable. There were more games to watch than ever before and Baltimore had once again fielded a team. During the eighties John Ziegler was the NHL President. He was a man of very little vision. He believed that hockey was meant to be seen in person rather than to see on TV. He did very little to promote the game outside of the twenty one markets in the mid-eighties.
Under Zielger’s leadership (or lack thereof) the NHL lost TV rights with ESPN & the USA Network. Finally Ziegler was forced out in 1992 as an indirect result of the players’ lock out that threatened to cut the season short and a direct result of his lack of vision.
Gary Bettman became the first NHL Commissioner on February 1, 1993. Under Bettman’s leadership NHL revenues grew from $400 million when he was hired to over $3.0 billion in 2010–11. He also oversaw the expansion of the NHL’s “footprint” across the United States, with six new teams added during his tenure, bringing the NHL to 30. (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 11/12/12).
Through the nearly twenty years of his rein, he brokered deals with FOX, ABC, NBC, ESPN, and the NBC Sports Network.
But Gary has also been in charge during the strike shortened season of 1994-1995 when the league didn’t start playing until January of 1995. He also presided over the strike of 2004-2005 when the whole season was cancelled. Fast forward to 2012. Once again there is a work stoppage. Now I don’t solely blame him. He has to deal with NHLPA head Mr. Jack Ass Donald Fehr. Fehr has already ruined major league baseball and now has his sights on the NHL.
But regardless of that a..hole Donald Fehr, Gary Bettman has presided over three work stoppages. You would think by now that he would have learned from the first two and signed a long term, iron clad agreement, but he didn’t. Now after what looks to be another lost season in only eight years, I think it’s time for a change.
Gary Bettman was the best thing for hockey in 1993. He took over after over a decade of incompetence from the leadership of John Zielger. But it’s time for Gary to step down. The NHL needs a change of leadership. Just like Brian Billick who made the Ravens a class organization, it is time for a change. After all, how many more work stoppages is it going to take to say enough’s enough? It is neither the rich players nor the wealthy owners who are affected, it’s the little man who feels the pinch. It’s the beer vender, the man who sell t shirts, it’s the bar owner and the hotel owner. These are the people affected.