In the last few months, I have been one of those few people out there trying to remind my fellow hockey fanatics that if they were trying to focus the blame on Gary Bettman, they were barking up the wrong tree. I made an attempt to show other members of the fan base that Bettman was just getting his marching orders from Jeremy Jacobs, and the rest of the governorship of the NHL owners. I wanted to take a little heat off the commissioner and tried to get the fans to realize that Bettman had stood up and made hockey the multi-billion dollar enterprise it is today.
Then the commissioner goes and pulls a stunt like this. Thanks Gary, I wasn’t one of your fans, but I thought I was not opposed to you. Until now.
The New York Post apparently got one of its people into the negotiations to hear part of the arguments between the NHL and the NHLPA. Things seem to be edging towards a negotiated settlement when the commissioner decided to drop his own little bombshell. In the middle of the talks, the head of the NHL chose to announce that a number of general managers had told him they regret some of the contracts they handed out. (If you look at the spending bonanza that occured just before the lockout came into being its pretty easy to draw up a suspect list.) Bettman then told the NHLPA and the players that were there that the GMs would welcome the opportunity to “dismantle” their teams. This would be necessary for a few teams(Boston included) so the team’s spending limit could get beneath the league’s proposed sixty million cap for the proposed 2013-14 season.
So, how do you think the players took it? (Frankly, I’m a little amazed someone didn’t get a double major and an ejection for introducing Bettman to a puck.. at eighty plus miles per hour.) Naturally, the players responded with disbelief, anger, and posturing. (Hell of a way to derail the talks Gary!) Furthermore, the NHLPA wanted to know which GMs had come forward to Bettman to express this sentiment. Bettman refused to name names. (So, this was a bluff that blew up in his face, or this was a smokescreen to cover the fact that certain owners know they’re in trouble and don’t have the votes to overrule a CBA vote.) The players maintained that such a cap( The NHLPA was aiming for sixty-five million), even with one or two of the ‘amnesty buyouts’ would harm some of the bigger market teams. (In actuality, it would only hurt teams that were profoundly irresponsible with their spending… oh wait, that’s about half of them.)
Seriously commissioner. The Devils just restructured their debt, the Coyotes are still a mess, and you’ve got another half a dozen teams in trouble. Half your clubs are in the red, and the men you represent seem to have no sense of control over their own checkbooks. You may have done a lot of good for the NHL in the past, but at the moment you are dancing on a fault line. You choose to interrupt a negotiation and tell the players and the union(which is about to re-arm the master reset switch with the ‘disclaimer of intrest.) that their bosses were idiots and they want to break up their teams. Could you have not anticipated any other response but hostility?