FanDuel - WFBC

January 29, 2007

Down with Bettman: Why the wee one must go.

posted by garfield to hockey at 03:18 PM - 21 comments

Scathing. And absolutely correct. Though I think the doom and gloom is a tad overwrought. But Bettman's tenure has either presided over the worst period in NHL history or caused - but either way - it ain't fixin' it. I didn't consider the impact that the new uniforms would have on all the guys who wear hockey jerseys because they (like the NFL ones) maybe give a little more room to relax. That's interesting. I particularly agree that Bettman hasn't shown any willingness to tailor his approach to the game, but rather to try to tailor the game to his approach. Honestly, the NBA basically did the same thing (3-point line, outlawing zone) in the 70s, but it's not working for hockey. Not one bit.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:32 PM on January 29

Yeah, there are some other things to blame, (like Howard Baldwin), but, as Weedy points out, Bettman sure ain't fixing them. He did break the union. Cheers and thanks. But also goodbye. It's time for him to move along for someone more soft-and-cuddly. Someone who can sell the game. Bettman doesn't make people want to do anything but bathe in turpentine. Never thought of fat guys in the new jerseys. Yikes.

posted by SummersEve at 03:58 PM on January 29

My favorite line of the column: And, since fighting has been curbed, the "new" rivalries haven't really taken because a hockey rivalry without fighting is like non-alcoholic beer.

posted by MrFrisby at 04:10 PM on January 29

The problem with moving the All-Star game from the Sunday time slot to the Wednesday timeslot was not the change from NBC to Versus; it was making it go up against the ratings juggernaut called "American Idol". The idea was sound. A mid-week showcase in January is generally going to do better than getting buried in a weekend timeslot when people aren't watching TV (or, if they are, it's golf). However, FOX scheduling f*cked them in the ass, and the numbers show it. I don't care if it was on NBC, CBS, ABC or all three, it was going to get crushed by "American Goddamn Idol". It is par for a season which has seen TV numbers plummet in both the U.S. and Canada (down 20 percent by some reports), attendance drop and media coverage dwindle. Well, if he's comparing media coverage from last year to this year, of course it's going to drop. "Hey, hockey's back! Let's see what's happened after a year off!" vs "Hey, hockey's back. Nothing really different this year." The Bettman era has been an unmitigated disaster for the league in virtually every possible way, one outrageously terrible initiative after another. I could write a book about Bettman's insulting and imbecilic moves through the years (Chapter 9, "The Glowing Puck") but the main problem has always been the same. Except, of course, as commissioner he was able to crush the NHLPA and give the owners "cost certainty". I'm pretty sure the owners think he did a great thing. Considering they are the ones that are paying his salary, I don't think they would agree it was a "disaster". As for the glowing puck, it was FOX that wanted that, not the NHL. I'm sure the NFL cringed and cried when FOX instituted the "scoreboard bug" up in the top left corner, as it "distracted from the game in progress". Now, every sport in the world puts the score up in the top left corner, and most of them are busy running OTHER scores across the bottom of the screen. The real problem is that the technology wasn't perfected AND didn't hang around long enough to get accepted by the masses. If I were to use the glowing puck, it would be during replays of a goal, showing the path the puck took before it got in the net (great for demonstrating tip shots and one-timers). The league is now overexpanded and overpriced, misplaced and misdirected. It is less exciting, less interesting, less traditional and more difficult to follow for the non-obsessive fan. How is it "less exciting"? How is it "less interesting"? Does he have examples? Some will argue that shootouts to decide regular-season games and the severe curbing of fighting are positives, but that's a matter of personal preference. "Some"? He's really underplaying the HUGE positive reaction that shootouts have gotten. Of course, old rivalries such as Detroit-Toronto two hockey-mad towns separated by a single highway that actually has an exit for Wayne Gretzky Blvd. No it doesn't. The road in question is "Wayne Gretzky Parkway", and it's off Highway 403. The only connecting highway between Detroit and Toronto is Highway 401. While some hail the salary cap that allows across-the-board competitiveness, I think it suppresses the kind of elite play that makes the game great. Hockey is the ultimate team pursuit the need for timing and teamwork is paramount. The individual star is utterly worthless without strong teammates. Oh, come on! I'm betting this writer was probably one of the guys that railed against the escalating salaries in the league 3 years ago. And how does a salary cap remove strong teammates? If you have X great players, Y good players, Z average players and the rest are crummy players, by having a salary cap you stop teams from spending 75% of their salaries on 2-3 players and filling the rosters with crummy (cheap) players. If your top 2-3 players only cost 40-50% of your salary cap, you now have room to fill your roster with more expensive (better) players. Of course, this just assumes that "more money" = "better". If anything, the salary cap forces teams to spend the money wisely. Wisely is better than recklessly because now they'll spend more time scouting the players and analyzing them, and only drafting/signing/trading for the ones they think will provide a lift for the team. Other than these mistakes, he's got some points I do agree with (the schedule is seriously f*cked).

posted by grum@work at 04:20 PM on January 29

Of course, already fans who are carrying even a few extra pounds report that they look ridiculous in the new form fitting jerseys, which has led to predictions of plummeting apparel sales and jokes about how Bettman hatched the idea after watching George Costanza comically change the New York Yankees' uniforms to cotton. Don't the jerseys go on overtop of players who are wearing lots of equipment (shoulder pads, elbow pads)? I'm pretty sure that if you are "carrying ... a few extra pounds", you won't look bad in a jersey. However, if you are grossly overweight, sure you'll look like a plump sausage. But how good did you look in those old jerseys in the first place?

posted by grum@work at 04:24 PM on January 29

Don't the jerseys go on overtop of players who are wearing lots of equipment (shoulder pads, elbow pads)? I'm pretty sure that if you are "carrying ... a few extra pounds", you won't look bad in a jersey. yeah, but do players where pads on their bellies? cause that's usually where the "few extra pounds" are located. i recently bought a throw-back jersey, from back when they were slimmer than they are now. it fit's fine up top, but once it gets to where my extra pounds are it is rather snug.

posted by goddam at 04:32 PM on January 29

so i guess we don't have the 3 minute edit window anymore. the first "where" should be "wear". and i wanted to say do players wear pads in the shape of beer bellies.

posted by goddam at 04:35 PM on January 29

The square peg, round hole approach is what really bothers me. The union seems to be in the process of getting unbroken. I haven't really been following this story that closely, but the conference call antics are intriguing to say the least. Also, here is interesting argument, one I'm not sure I fully grasp, that the CBA "makes it more likely than not that good players will be forced to a new team to achieve the market value they earn by performance with their old team." And I'm not sure it is so clear cut to hail the Cost certain CBA a victory when it cost the league an entire season, which was paid for by 'warchest' money the teams themselves saved while supposedly losing money. Not that I want to debate the lock-out, but I think you could find some owners who might agree it was a disaster.

posted by garfield at 04:36 PM on January 29

yeah, but do players where pads on their bellies? Actually, the top of their pants are usually covered by the jersey as well.

posted by grum@work at 04:42 PM on January 29

i guess my point it that people don't pack on extra pounds in the shape of hockey equipment, which is what these new unis are tailored to accommodate.

posted by goddam at 05:04 PM on January 29

While this guy's specifics may be a little weird, I can't think of one thing Bettman has done to make the NHL better or more popular. And I can think of several things he's done or refused to do to drive it further into obscurity. Bettman sucks.

posted by fabulon7 at 06:36 PM on January 29

I can't think of one thing Bettman has done to make the NHL better or more popular. - shootouts - agreeing to halt NHL mid-season to allow top players to play in high profile Winter Olympics - helping move moribund franchise to Carolina

posted by grum@work at 06:46 PM on January 29

No it doesn't. The road in question is "Wayne Gretzky Parkway", and it's off Highway 403. The only connecting highway between Detroit and Toronto is Highway 401. I actually take the 403 on my way to the 401 when heading to Windsor: it, via the QEW, is generally faster out of Toronto's downtown. But yes, that's technically three highways from Toronto to Detroit, plus Huron Church Line in Windsor. Therefore Gary Bettman is a failure.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 07:05 PM on January 29

- helping move moribund franchise to Carolina Hartford had, and still has, a very energized fan base. The move to Carolina was to satisfy the greed of an owner. "Brass Bonanza" lives on. The problem I see with hockey is that the NHL keeps trying to reach too many people too quickly. Witness the continuing expansion, resulting in too many NHL teams looking like the AHL of old. I honestly think that the Hershey Bears of the late 1960s could make the playoffs in today's NHL. The league also seems to buy into the media's theories that hockey broadcasts need to be "dumbed down" and gimmicked so that more non-fans will watch and grow to like the game. The problem is that those who are marginal fans are turned off by the gimmicks, and the prospective fans never really learn to appreciate the game for what it should be. Those of us who grew up playing and watching the sport just grow older and grumpier, as the quality of play diminishes. If there were some viable way of retracting to about 24 teams (or fewer, if possible), the level of play would rise significantly. Then the media could be convinced to abandon the gimmicks, teach viewers the rules and fine points, and build the audience slowly. In this way, the new fan would soon become the hard-core fan.

posted by Howard_T at 07:49 PM on January 29

helping move moribund franchise to Carolina Oooh, ouch! That hurts. Can't get behind that being a redeeming quality. Hartford had, and still has, a very energized fan base. The move to Carolina was to satisfy the greed of an owner. "Brass Bonanza" lives on. Sure, they had season ticket holders who really cared, but they weren't exactly packing the place. I remember. I was there buying half price tickets with my student id every other game. Having said that they could have done more to avoid moving the team.

posted by YukonGold at 08:26 PM on January 29

He said, "moribund." He meant, "Hartford." The words are interchangable, and it's easy to get confused.

posted by BullpenPro at 08:29 PM on January 29

- shootouts I think that one's debateable. A lot of people really don't like the shootouts. - agreeing to halt NHL mid-season to allow top players to play in high profile Winter Olympics He's publicly stated he was strongarmed into this, and that his choice would be to end theNHL season on time, and not risk non-NHL injuries to NHL players. I think the players forced him into this one. - helping move moribund franchise to Carolina Where they still have well below league-average attendance.

posted by fabulon7 at 08:38 PM on January 29

He's publicly stated he was strongarmed into this, and that his choice would be to end theNHL season on time, and not risk non-NHL injuries to NHL players. I think the players forced him into this one. Well, the author of the article mentions a couple of times where things happened during Bettman's reign that had nothing to do with him (or his hand was forced), but still felt the need to blame him for them. If it goes one way, it goes the other. - shootouts I think that one's debateable. A lot of people really don't like the shootouts. Who would that be? The television broadcasters? They like them because it keeps the fans glued to the TV until the VERY end. The fans in the stands? I can't remember of any stories where people were happy with a tie game and left after the overtime and skipped the shootout. The viewing fans? Other than Ovechkin's crazy goal, most of the exciting highlights from the past season were from the shootout themselves (Malik, Jokinen, Datsyuk and Sid the Kid's triumphant return to Montreal, as examples). I'm still looking for examples of "lots" of fans. There might be some old-time fans (and sports writers) who don't like it, but I think it's a stretch to say "lots" (in a comparative sense to those that like the shootout). - helping move moribund franchise to Carolina Where they still have well below league-average attendance. Well, I don't know how "bad" it can be when, according to according to the attendance figures, they are pulling in 92.2% capacity. Yes, that puts them 18th in the league, but I doubt anyone would call it a problem (unlike, say, St. Louis).

posted by grum@work at 11:16 PM on January 29

according to according to the attendance figures, they are pulling in 92.2% capacity. Sure, where they're the defending Stanley Cup champions and currently in the playoff hunt. Since moving they've made the playoffs 4 out of 8 years and shown serious improvement over the final five years in Hartford where they had ZERO winning seasons in the final five years. You can't assume that with the same success Hartford wouldn't experience similar numbers. I guess their record in those final years by itself makes them moribund, but there are a lot of teams that fit the bill. No one is moving the Lions or the Devil Rays or the Royals. Moving a team is pretty much the worst thing in sports, because it screws over the fans who do care. Contraction is a better option, at least then it's no more.

posted by YukonGold at 06:04 AM on January 30

"makes it more likely than not that good players will be forced to a new team to achieve the market value they earn by performance with their old team." That is an issue that is going to have to be addressed in Detroit with Pavel Datsyuk's contract being up after this season. He will probably command top dollar, which he deserves. The problem is, Henrik Zetterberg's contract is up the next year and he will probably want around the same amount of money. That puts the Red Wings in a perdicament, as if they sign them both they will tie up a large amount of their salary to three players (with Lindstrom being the third).

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:23 PM on January 30

Join the club. Sundin, McCabe, Kubina, Kaberle, and probably Tucker for the Leafs. I don't see how they can change this mid-stream. What do you say to Ottawa and them letting Chara walk? Or Tampa forced tomove on without Khabibulin?

posted by garfield at 02:47 PM on January 30

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