Thursday, September 16, 2004

Yahoo! Sports - NHL - Puck stops with Bettman

Well it is now official, the lock out is on and the chances of a new season are probably getting slim. After all when you are dealing with to very entrenched sides, it's hard for compromise to happen, think the Western Front, circa 1914-1918.

One article says that Canadians are more willing to side with the owners then the players. Yes I can understand that it's hard to garner much sympathy for any group that makes 30 times your average salary. The concept of the spoiled brat comes to mind. But before we start throwing rocks at the players let remember the owners in all this, they are equally to blame. They are the ones, especially those in the major centres like New York and Detroit that paid the players all that money.

I came across one stat, speaking of players' salaries and I learned the average salary of the Calgary Flames was 925,000 US and the average for Tampa Bay was 1,155,000 US. In other words the Stanley Cup champ paid their players 225,000 more to win the cup then the runner's up. The Rangers, by the way pay over 2.5 million US to be a last place team.

So I suppose who is to blame for this mess, players? Owners? A combination of both? How about one person, and that person is Gary Bettman. What can be said about this weazel, besides the fact that calling him a weazel is to insult weazels everywhere? Who else has made the League a laughing stock then him. If you are reading this in Canada, you may remember his infamous interview with Ron McLean. Now Ron McLean is a man very knowledgeable about hockey, he's a broadcaster, straightman to Don Cherry and a referee. Yet to hear Bettman call him "Ronny" was maddening. In fact I felt if I heard him say that one more time I would have if I could, reached through the tv and throttled him. The man is arrogant with no reason to be arrogant. He has no appreciation of the game of hockey. Remember he's the guy that let Winnipeg and Quebec lose their hockey teams. He is the fellow that watched Pittsburg go almost down the tube.

I know this is a baseball concept but one of the roles of the Commissioner is to act in the best interest of the game. All Bettman has done is ruin hockey. He ignores his primary market, Canada with the hope of making the game popular in the US. Instead he's allowed the league to become something that is losing popularity. Some people laugh at the fact that SpongeBob Squarepants is more popular on TV then the NHL.

It's enough to wish for the return of John A. Ziegler Jr. Now understand I believe Mr. Ziegler was a good president of the NHL, after al he understood and loved hockey. He cared for the game.

Well, what will all this mean for TV watching in Canada. Let's see, how many times can the CBC re-broadcast the funeral of Pierre Trudeau and that lame mini-series on him.

As for TSN and SportsNet, I guess they will either show classic games or we will learn about all sorts of exotic sports. Hey, you can never have enough "World's Strongest Man" contests.



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