As a true hockey fan, and probably the only TRUE hockey fan, West of San Antonio, in Texas, I am anguishing terribly over the looming lockout and the possibility of not seeing one of my hockey dreams come true (Jagr playing for Dallas). After this past week, and the way each of the last two CBA negotiations transpired, it would be a small miracle if there was not at least some kind of shortened season. I do however think there will be hockey this season, considering the 10 year 2 Billion Dollar contract with NBC (http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=560238 ). Only time will tell.
While reading most of the comments regarding the CBA, I am with those that are calling for the firing of our current NHL Commissioner. So much so that at first I was considering creating a website, dedicate solely to this cause. After checking with godaddy, firebettman.org is currently available, if anyone is interested.
I decided to do a little research on just exactly what the NHL Commissioner’s duties entailed, what power he had exactly and a little history in his position. One of the first places I looked was Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHL_Commissioner ). I was immediately drawn to the following.
According to the NHL Constitution, Article VI, section 6.1:
”6.1 Office of Commissioner, Election and Term of Office the League shall employ a Commissioner selected by the Board of Governors. The Commissioner shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the League and is charged with protecting the integrity of the game of professional hockey and preserving public confidence in the League. The Board of Governors shall determine the term of office and compensation of the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall be elected a majority of the Governors present and voting at a League meeting at which a quorum was present when it was convened.“
Although Bettman was tasked with putting an end to the NHL's labor problems, when originally hired in this position the league has none-the-less locked out its players twice during Bettman's tenure. (Side note: A third lockout is now currently looming)
Here is the scary part, which once and for all proves that the largest clubs have power over everyone else; which is the number one reason there will be a lock out this year. When the Commissioner is supposed to represent the entire league (30 teams), how is it possible that he can veto any agreement the NHLPA submits with only 8 votes. That’s less than 27%. “What you Say?” you may ask. According to the report, I found this tid bit.
"In an effort to ensure solidarity amongst the owners, the league's governors voted to give Bettman the right to unilaterally veto any union offer as long as he had the backing of just eight owners."
That “solidarity” word is amusing. Sounds more like “submission” or “obedience” to me.
So essentially if it’s an issue of sharing revenue between top teams and lower teams, then all this is a lost cause. If the Top 8 teams do not want to share revenue, then those 8 teams can just tell Bettman to veto any CBA agreement that has anything they don't want in it. This gives absolute power to only a few. It comes down to just 8 teams that control the other 22 teams. Talk about lopsided.
In case you want to know which teams essentially pulls the strings, you can view the top money makers at “the hockey fanatic website, http://www.thehockeyfanatic.com/2012/01/nhl-team-worth-2011-2012/ , and draw your own conclusion.
I for one, would defiantly call for Bettman’s firing (which will never happen, as long as he obeys the 8), or his demanded resignation from the NHLPA for failure to live up to his duties as Commissioner, by not protecting the Integrity of the game or preserving public confidence, with the latter being the main catalyst for his demanded resignation.
Bettman has a choice as to what his legacy will be. He can be remember for his terrible negotiating ability causing three consecutive lockouts during his tenure, including helping the NHL to became the first North American league to cancel an entire season because of a labor stoppage. Or, he can be remembered as the man that helped grow the sport significantly since his tenure, including orchestrating the 2 billion dollar contract with NBC, that if hockey continues, will take the NHL to the next level, and essentially help the owners and players make more money. Which is what the CBA is all about.
Regardless of the outcome, In my own opinion, I think it’s time for new leadership. The NHLPA changed its leader after the last CBA, now it’s time for the NHL to change theirs. After all he is the one variable that has been involved in each of the three lockouts and has led the NHL to its lowest confidence level of the fans and public, in at least the last 20 years.
Bottom line, Bettman should do the honorable thing and resign voluntarily. But we all know that will never happen. I personally would never resign either if I received a salary of nearly 8 million a year.
I’ll get off my soap box now.