But that's not what Bettman did with that issue at all. He went and talked to all the owners and they created a plan without ever consulting the players or NHLPA. Then he gave an incredibly short deadline for the NHLPA to consult with its members and consider all the implications of the realignment, putting them in the position of having to hold up approving it. He wasn't coming up with a plan that satisfies the players at all. He was appeasing the owners and using the realignment to make the NHLPA look bad headed into CBA negotiations. And now that he got his cap rammed through last time, I fully expect this round will include putting the screws to the players again to get the owners a larger share of profits, while using tactics to make the players union look bad, like he did with realignment. The negotiations haven't even begun and Bettman has set a divisive tone with his remarks about the NHLPA and the realignment plan.
I don't think loving the game necessarily means not deviating from the original format. Look at Shanahan. The guy clearly loves the game, but has also come up with some pretty innovative ideas to try and improve it. Bettman is beholden to all the GM's, sometimes at the cost of the greater good of the game, and it shows. I'm not saying he has an easy job. It's an incredibly hard one. I just think part of the NHL commissioner's job should include protecting the integrity of the game and sometimes preventing the owners from being their own worst enemy. And in that regard, Bettman is lacking.
But by far his most annoying quality is his condescending remarks towards fans and what they think. Basically telling us time and time again that we're wrong. "Clutching and grabbing? Nope. Fans and players have told me they love how the game is played." "Officiating? Are refs do a great job and fans and players have told me they're happy with the job the officials are doing."
I'll grant you the fact that he didn't give the NHLPA enough time, that was definitely a hardball tactic. However, I do think that the new plan had players in mind, or at least half of them. The new plan while good for players in the west would have meant MORE traveling time (time away from home) for the players in the Eastern Conference, which is why they were largely leading the charge against realignment. If you look at our own players remarks you saw a clear change in response only after the eastern teams had their say. Our guys were largely in favor of it, and then crawfished as soon as everybody else had their say. Which was my point all along, trying to balance that many plates takes a lot of know how, which I think he has, and still not everybody was satisfied.
As far as remarks to players and fans go, I can't really say what he's been hearing from players. I don't know that any of us can. But when it comes to fans I will say this. Just look on this message board at how many fans have asinine preferences that could never be realistically satisfied by anyone short of god, let alone the league commissioner. I know there are tons of knowledgeable fans out there, and many on here as well, and many of those knowledgeable fans are at the very least 50/50 with regards to Bettman's performance. But you can't satisfy everyone, especially when (like anything else) the most vocal people are the ones who aren't going to be satisfied no matter what he does. If my college years working food service taught me anything it's that the people who ***** the most, don't really know s***, and the people who are satisfied, rarely have anything to say. I'd be condescending too if I was bombarded with comments ranging from "you're a weasel" to "You've ruined the game" to "there's only six original teams" every single day. My guess is, the reasonable criticisms are being addressed reasonably, but they're difficult and can't be fixed as flawlessly as many of us would like.
Edited by kipwinger, 14 May 2012 - 06:42 PM.