When it comes to questionable inflated hockey salaries, who is at the head of the class? Give yourself a Hershey bar if you said Gary Bettman.
He is in his 20th year as Commissioner of the NHL, and he and the owners of the league’s 30 teams are getting ready to lock players out of the rinks for the third time in 20 years. Eight years ago the lockout scrubbed an entire season. Bettman insisted it was necessary to get costs under control.
Did I miss a meeting or two? Player salaries have continued to rise into the stratosphere, the cost of tickets requires a second mortgage in many cities, and more than half the owners say they’re losing money.
And the commissioner? He seems to have done quite OK. His basic salary is well over seven million dollars a year. That’s more than double what it was eight years ago when the players got nothing. Not bad for a man who has never stopped a shot from the point, or even taken a hip check.
His so-called southern strategy which moved teams to non-traditional hockey markets has been largely a failure. The Phoenix Coyotes, who used to be the Winnipeg Jets, have been an expensive welfare case for years in the Arizona desert. The Atlanta Thrashers are now the reborn Jets, thanks more to Mark Chipman and his partners than Gary Bettman.
Now those Winnipeg fans who ponyed up major cash to secure their tickets for five years, are facing the prospect of a shutout after only one season. The move to another lockout appears to be deliberate and premeditated, and the impact will be huge, especially in the Canadian markets.
Most North Americans who work for a living keep their jobs by working hard and being productive. Sometimes it’s not enough as the global economy spits people out.
How and why does Gary Bettman keep his job? We’re not sure.
I’m Roger Currie
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Roger Currie on Gary Bettman