Calm down hockey fans… Bettman is on your side?

March 7, 2007

I was listening to 1460 AM on my way home last night, and who did Herbstreit and Hooley have on The Big Show but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.  I wonder if my new friends over at Fire Bettman were listening?

I caught the tail end of the interview, and heard them talk about the Penguins situation and realignment.  Bettman’s comments on realignment I thought were telling, and contrary to reports that were thrown out a few months ago.

I seem to remember that some Red Wings fans/bloggers were up in arms over stories that were suggesting that Columbus would be the team to move to the Eastern Conference if the Penguins moved to KC/Vegas/etc.  Personally, I think that having East and West conferences is an unsolveable system given the geographical layout of franchises in the NHL, and I noted my suggestions in my post on realignment.  Herbstreit asked Bettman if Columbus would be the team to move, because of the fact that they are in the Eastern time zone and had a lot of travel to deal with.  Bettman replied (and I’m paraphrasing a bit, but you’ll get the idea) that there “might be another team in the same situation, one with decades of history in the NHL, and they might get the first shot at moving conferences.”  The commissioner also brought up teams such as Dallas (in the Central time zone, but playing in the Pacific Division) and Minnesota (also in the Central time zone, but playing in the Northwest Division) that had similar plights to Columbus (and the “other team” not specifically mentioned).

My thoughts, if you’re going to maintain the antiquated notion of East/West conferences, then Detroit (or whatever team Gary was referring to) should get the first shot at moving.  Taking it a bit further, I’d suggest a complete shakeup of the current alignment and going with something similar to my suggestion modeled on the NFL and MLB alignment schemes.  But I don’t think it will happen any time soon.

As Gary noted in the closing minutes on 1460, “we just can’t keep changing the game every year.”  Like it or not, it’s how it is.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.



  1. I agree that Detroit should get the first shot! It also seems to me that Columbus shouldn’t be in the Western conference. I also agree that the conference lines need to be re-thought and re-drawn. However, in doing so, they would need to make sure that they keep some of the old rivalries intact. They recently broke up the rivalry between Detroit and Toronto with the new schedule… we didn’t play them once last season, and only once this year! There would have to be some kind of compromise between the new re-alignment and the schedule (which is another Bettman issue we won’t touch here!).

    I find it funny to read that Bettman said:
    “we just can’t keep changing the game every year.”

    He’s been the one who has been trying to change the game every year!! Give me a break… Bettman just putting on another pretty face, telling people what they want to hear, and doing something else. He would make a much better politician!!!

  2. I’d really like to see the Jackets move, but the Red Wings should get first dibs. One notable thing about the Wings is that they have proven that an Eastern Time Zone team can win out west, despite time zones, jet lag and travel times.

    I would like to see a realignment of divisions though. It does seem a little kooky that Dallas spends so much time on the Pacific coast, and the Jackets seem to always be on a northwest road trip.

    I don’t care if the NHL changes every year, as long as it is for the better. As the league continues to recover from the lockout, changes need to be made that improve the game for the fans’ sake, as that will lead to greater revenue. If your favorite NHL team more frequently played in your time zone, wouldn’t you tune in more often? I know it’s hard for me to sit down for an entire game when the Jackets don’t face off until 9 or 10 o’clock on the west coast.

  3. Regarding Bettman’s tenure as commissioner in the NHL, revenue streams have increased astronomically since he came into the league. Regarding Bettman having to do with anything that goes on the ice; that is really determined by many committees that are chiefly run by the general managers and owners. The competition committee that was led by Brenden Shanahan two seasons ago is the chief architect of the new rules. Remember Bettman works for the owners who pay him. If the owners did not like the job Bettman was doing, he would not be there. Bettman is a conduit, politician, and quite clever and hard working. The game is going through a renewed set of growing pains(since the lockout) and really the game has never been better on the ice. With the Crosby’s, Ovechkins, Staala, Malkins, Phaneufs and Kopitar tonight, what a future for the game.

  4. How is Bettman clever? Clever in how he can trick the fans and others maybe. Bettman *should* be there to make the game better, not listen to the owners. He should stand up to them if he thinks something they want isn’t right… but I have a feeling he doesn’t know enough about the game to know what’s right or wrong for it. I wonder what Bettman’s salary is???? I guess it’s easy to do what you’re told when you’re being paid a hefty salary by them.

    And who cares if revenue is growing right now? Fan Base is shrinking… and focusing on right now is short-sited. You have to focus on the future. You have to grow the fan base… that’s where your money comes from! That and TV contracts… which, hah, Versus?!! Give me a break.
    Bettman and the NHL took the easy way out by putting a salary cap and bargaining agreement into the league. They don’t want to do the real work of marketing the league, and coming up with other creative ways (besides changing the game for the worse) to make the fan base grow. Hell, why don’t we bring the glowing puck back? 😉

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