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Who will be the next NHL commissioner?

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly is the likely successor to Gary Bettman after he calls it a career.  (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images for NHL)

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NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly is the likely successor to Gary Bettman after he calls it a career. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images for NHL)

Hello again. Me again. Answering your questions again. Using the word again again. Thanks again for all your submissions. Here’s this week’s batch:

Adam, I am very interested in your thoughts on the Blackhawks’ goalie situation. Since the Blackhawks won the cup there are a bunch of new fans around who don`t know much of the sport prior to the 2010 season. None of them are happy with Corey Crawford (I don’t really blame them) but everyone wants Niemi back. What they don`t realize is that the Hawks were stacked then and Niemi didn`t face as many shots that the Hawks goalies have faced since after that season.

Don’t get me wrong. Niemi did a good job. I mean, they won the Stanley Cup so there is no debate there. I guess what I’m asking is do you think Crawford should be the man in net, or go with the veteran, Ray Emery? If neither, who do you think the Hawks should be looking at to get the job done? They have scoring depth, so why not put Niklas Hjalmarsson and Viktor Stalberg up for a possible trade?
Aaron Kennedy, Chicago


Aaron,

First of all, those Chicago fans you’re talking to who clamor for Niemi’s return should get a grip. He’s established a new home in San Jose and is signed through the 2014-15 season, so there’s no going back for him or the Hawks.

I’m not about to pick either Crawford or Emery, as both goalies have their good and bad qualities. That neither has stepped up and made the starter’s job their own is one of the reasons why the Hawks have been linked to a trade for Roberto Luongo, but I still think he’s going to Toronto as soon as the lockout ends.

Which brings us back to the decision they face now. Emery was one of the game’s most incredible comeback stories in recent history, but his stats (2.81 goals-against average, .900 save percentage) fall into the run-of-the-mill category. And Crawford’s stats (2.72 G.A.A., .903 SP) aren’t notably better. Some of that falls on the team that played in front of them, but the reality is neither is likely to appear in an All-Star Game or be named to an All-Star Team anytime soon, if ever.

If they maintain the status quo and both Crawford and Emery perform similarly, the good news for Hawks fans is the former is signed for just two more seasons, while the latter becomes a free agent after this (theoretical) season. Chicago GM Stan Bowman has enough assets on forward and defense to swing a trade somewhere down the line for a top-shelf netminder, but I suspect they’ll stand pat for now.

Adam, since the N.H.L. does not want to honor contracts signed in good faith by the players. Why do the players not go into court and ask a judge to make all contracts null and void? Thanks for your time.
Ralph Gray, Kitchener


Ralph,

The league would argue it was negotiating in good faith and that a percentage of player salaries have been held up in escrow since the 2005-06 season, but there’s no denying at least some players are of the opinion owners were offering extravagant contracts with the notion the NHL would claw back some of the money in the current labor battle.
 
It doesn’t make sense for them at the moment to challenge the league in court, but rest assured, one of the options available to Don Fehr is union decertification – a legal mechanism that would open up the possibility of an anti-trust lawsuit against the owners.

That threat was part of the NBA union’s approach to its 2011 lockout and it led to owners returning to the table faster than they otherwise may have. To imagine Fehr wouldn’t use it is to underestimate his talents as a union leader. But again, we’re not quite at that point yet.

Greetings Adam. With David Stern recently announcing he is stepping down as NBA Commissioner in 2014, a lot of hockey fans are saying Gary Bettman will return to the NBA and take Stern's job. 2 lockouts, a strike and the countless boos in NHL arenas will do that to a guy. Bettman will still have 2 years left on his NHL deal in 2014. Assuming he has an out-clause, who do you see as the next NHL Commissioner? Is Bill Daly the obvious choice? Personally, I think Ken Dryden would be a great choice for the role: HHOF player, lawyer, writer, politician, and former President of the Leafs. Needless to say, he knows both sides of the business. The only thing working against Dryden is his age (he will be 67 in 2014). Gil Stein aside, the NHL President/Commissioner tends to stick around for a while. Even if Bettman stays, are there other names to consider when he eventually leaves? (please don't say Wayne Gretzky!) Cheers,
Steve Dicker, Paradise, Newfoundland


Greetings Steve,

First of all, the NBA has already announced deputy commissioner Adam Silver would be replacing Stern when he retires in February 2014. But there will always be speculation as to whom replaces Bettman whenever he moseys on into the sunset.

To answer your question: yes, I think Daly is the obvious choice. He doesn’t have the public relations problem issues that plague his current boss and he’s clearly familiar with the owners and legalese that governs the league. And remember, the commissioner’s priority isn’t for the overall good of the game – it’s for the good of the owners. For that reason, it’s highly improbable a great hockey ambassador such as Dryden would get the nod.

Hey Adam, I was watching TSN Rewind of the gold medal 2002 game last night and was wondering which team you thought was better, Salt Lake City or the 2010 Vancouver team? I know the rules and style of the game have changed, but if they played an actual game who would win?
Martin McKenzie-Jodoin, Montreal


Hey Martin,

Good question, but one that can only be settled the new-fashioned way: video game simulation.

Joking aside, it really is like comparing apples and oranges, because the game has changed and is more of a young player’s game. That was reflected in the two rosters: the 2002 team was older and slower than the 2012 edition.

That said, I don’t think either side can be said to be markedly better than the other. The 2002 team had a slew of Hockey Hall of Famers on it (including Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic), while the 2012 team had players who’ll eventually be honored by that institution as well (including Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews). So I’m calling it a draw.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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