Gary Bettman has been commissioner of the NHL since 1993. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images for the NHL)
You know that dude who pops up on the Dr. Phil Show every now and then to administer lie detector tests to guests who swear they never made out with a monkey or took a few drinks before climbing behind the wheel of a school bus?
The guy who kind of looks like an angry Terry Gregson?
Well, I am certain if he strapped me to his Polygraph and asked me if I like Gary Bettman, my answer – yes – would not be ruled as deceptive.
You see, I don’t think it’s easy running a league that has 30 teams with 30 different agendas. I don’t think hockey fans would be happy with Ghandi if he ran the league.
It’s a thankless job.
And so it is, I am worried for Bettman’s future. My understanding is he didn’t have the full support of the owners prior to the lockout, but he bought himself some more time by kicking the players’ butts in collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
Now, with the Nashville ownership fiasco unfolding, I think Bettman’s support of William Del Biaggio and his shady dealings concerning Canadian bazillionaire Jim Balsillie could be the beginning of the end for the commish. They provide jumping-off points for anybody hoping to see him take a hike.
But I hope things don’t unfold like that.
So what can Bettman do to get back into people’s good books? Well, if I am his P.R. guy, I say:
• Do away with this phrase: In keeping with club policy, terms of the agreement will not be made public. Gary, tell your dopey GMs we live in a salary cap world and contract information must be made public.
• Turn down the damn music. I come from an era when just being at the game was good enough. Throw in a little organ music if you wish. If I wanted to go to an AC/DC concert, I’d go to an AC/DC concert.
• Speed up video replay. I can’t count the number of times when I have seen a call come into question and the geniuses watching tape keep on watching after a definitive view has been shown on TV.
• Have home teams wear their white jerseys so fans can see more color from the visitors. And while we’re on the subject, how about encouraging teams to get away from predominantly black uniforms. Bring back the purple and gold of the Kings and the baby blue of the Penguins.
Oh, readers can feel free to expand this list with their suggestions in the comments forum below.
Mike Brophy will return in September.
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