An Invisible Commissioner
I can’t imagine any scenario that sees the owners choosing to fire Gary Bettman. (And even if they did choose to get rid of him, they would hire somebody else just like him.) An actual hockey commissioner is an impossible dream. Another impossible dream? If the hockey media simply decided to ignore him. But why not?
What is the point of this story from Roy Macgregor? Bettman says absolutely nothing that he hasn’t already said a dozen, two dozen, a hundred times before. When was the last time anybody heard anything new from him? His press conference at the All Star Game? Why bother?
While Bettman is master of the stock answers that usually match, word for word, what he said months earlier, he can at times become animated and spontaneous, even angry. Accuse the league of duplicity on any issue – such as not caring enough to act properly on head shots – or accuse him of sabotaging the potential deals with Balsillie for personal reasons, and he leaps to his own and the league’s defence.
“Don’t challenge my integrity,” he says, voice rising. “This is what we do. This is what I do and [deputy commissioner] Bill Daly does and [league disciplinarian] Colin Campbell does. It is what we do and we do it with passion. You can’t function if you blow with the wind. Why would you do anything but the right thing, or at least what you believe to be the right thing?”
This phony anger is merely another stock answer he has down pat. His voice rises – with “spontaneous” anger – every time his integrity or the league’s integrity is questioned. Bettman always does what he believes is the right thing, but that’s not necessarily a good thing the game or for us or for the players because he defines the right thing as whatever best protects the wallets of the owners. Nothing else matters to him. That is his job.
He has integrity problems because he is frequently disingenuous, and because he frequently pretends he cares more about the game, the fan or the players than he cares about the money. After years and years of that nonsense his credibiliy is in tatters.
Wouldn’t it be a good thing for everyone if Gary Bettman was never seen or heard from again? He can do his job for his employers without annoying the rest of us. Who would miss him? Why can’t the Commissioner be invisible?