My hatred of Gary Bettman is well known, so much so that I am sure my friends are considering that I have suffered a serious head injury. I am not a fan of anything Bettman has done to the NHL, at least up until Covid 19 shut the NHL down.
Why do I hate Gary Bettman so much? Since you asked, let’s start with the circus game known as the shoot out. I am old school, and I think regular season games should end in ties; there are just some games that are so hard fought on both sides that neither team deserves to lose a point, and they especially don’t deserve to lose that point in a skills exhibition.
Then we have the lockouts, plural. I eat, sleep and breathe hockey, so losing an entire season was unbearable, and Bettman cost the NHL that season in pursuit of a hard cap and CBA. That hard cap? I hate it; I have always been of the opinion that owners should be allowed to spend their money however they see fit; if Ed Snider wanted to buy another Stanley Cup, that was his right. That cap caused the Flyers to buy out Danny Briere’s contract. Briere was my favorite player, so yep, I laid that at Gary Bettman’s feet.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was Patrick Kane winning the Stanley Cup in our house. Patrick Kane was the #1 pick that belonged to the Philadelphia Flyers, but Gary Bettman changed that. Kane was drafted in 2007, the first year of the “weighted lottery” draft that Bettman institued; a year in which the Flyers finished in last place and should have had the #1 pick. Instead, we chose JvR at #2, and three years later, in 2010, Gary Bettman handed the Stanley Cup to the Chicago Blackhawks after Patrick Kane won Game 6 in overtime. I still have nightmares.
So why am I now publicly thanking Gary Bettman? Why have I put aside all of these transgressions? The Flyers play today, that’s why. After four+ months of waiting, of languishing, I will watch the Flyers play a (sort of) playoff game today. Watching the crazy that is the MLB and NBA, the positive tests, the bubble breaches and carelessness going on in all of the other major league sports, it is clear that Gary Bettman and the NHL did this right.
There were -0- positive tests during Phase 3 of the NHL’s Return to Play Plan. The NHL administered 4,256 tests, and had not one positive case. Zero, zilch, nada. The Secure Zones, or bubble cities, have provided the players with the highest level of security imaginable. The cleaning regime at the hotels and arenas is beyond thorough. The players are now tested daily, as is the staff involved at all games.
Gary Bettman and the NHL have managed what the other majors have not; truly secure bubble cities, and as a result, we will see a Stanley Cup Champion crowned. All is forgiven, Mr. Bettman, for now. Hand that Stanley Cup to Claude Giroux, and the truce will be permanent.
Photo Credit NHL.com