You can accuse Gary Bettman of many things, most of them at least partially true, but worrying about his public image isn't one of them. The NHL commissioner has been perfectly happy to take the public heat for decisions that came from the ownership collective. And he even invites that criticism with his sometimes confrontational attitude.
But he very rarely sticks his foot in his mouth quite as badly as he did Thursday afternoon, after he left the brief bargaining session between the NHL and NHLPA. While talking about how the NHL might respond to another lockout so soon after the 2004-05 debacle, he said something that seems innocuous on the surface but implies something that stings. Here's The Globe And Mail's take on it.
"We recovered last time because we have the world’s greatest fans," Bettman said. The commish meant this as a compliment, of course. An honest reading of this beauty is more like: "If you fans weren’t such doormats, I might be worried."
On its face, it is a compliment to the NHL's fanbase. The fans did return in droves after 2004-05, helping drive revenues to the point where the owners feel the players are making too much money yet again.
For more on why Bettman's compliment is so insulting and frighting from a CBA Armageddon perspective, as well as the quasi-daily links round up, head after the jump.
But as the article (and several others) points out, it shows exactly why the NHL owners have no real incentive to make a deal. A lost season doesn't hurt them, in the long run. Their revenue stream comes back regardless of how many games, weeks or months the NHL misses. And, especially after the last lockout, that means they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The problem is, they hold all the cards here. The players can't just put together their own 30 teams and play in the event the owners won't budge off of their position. Like Bettman said, the best fans in the world will come back when the league does.
Is there anything fans are able to do to force the hand of the NHL, if only to speed up the negotiating process? I'm not sure. Leave your brilliant ideas in the comments.
Now, onto your regularly scheduled links:
- Mark Fistric enters next season in a very interesting position on the Stars defensive depth chart. Is he ready to make the leap into a big-responsibility, big-minute role, or is he trade bait with impending UFA status and a group of youngsters behind him? [DallasNews.com]
- It was apparently "write about the Stars returning defensemen" week as Trevor Daley also got a nice write up. He's been a very, very steady presence on the blue line for five years now, but the Stars really do need him to turn from steady into stellar. [The Hockey Writers]
- Kari Lehtonen is back in Frisco working out, and he sat down with the official site to talk about his offseason workouts, the minor knee injury suffered during the world championships and some of the Stars offseason moves. [DallasStars.com]
- If the season starts on time, the Stars will be without their second-line center for at least the first month. Should Radek Faksa be the person to fill that hole in the short term? [HockeyBuzz]
- Speaking of that second-line center, I'm not sure why Derek Roy selling his condo in Buffalo made the news, but it does seem like a nice going-away gift from his former boss. [Buffalo Business Journal]
- NHL.com might not be reporting anything on the CBA negotiations, but they're more than happy to tell you Joe Nieuwendyk will play in the Alumni Showdown at the Winter Classic. Should it even happen, of course. [NHL.com]
- If you want a summary of where the fundamental differences are in the two sides of the CBA negotiations, here's a good place to start.[Puck Daddy]
- I'm not usually one to post remembrances of teams long moved, but I will make an exception for the Hartford Whalers, who had the great foresight to sign on Daryl "Razor" Reaugh. [Backhand Shelf]
- Somehow, I don't think Todd is buying the NHL owner's claims that they are feeling too cash strapped under the current CBA. [Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
- Loui Eriksson claims to have been in Sweden the whole summer before recently coming back to Texas, but given his well-done skin tone, I'd bet a beach was probably in there somewhere.