This being a presidential election year, politics are at the forefront of the minds of many (myself included, which is depressing when you think about it.) I do try and keep my personal beliefs on the politics of politics out of my hockey blog. However, there is no denying there are a lot of controversial issues in the NHL that can be political in nature. And we’re in the middle of the 3rd lockout in 18 years to prove it. This is the last of a four part series this week, where I share my NHL political beliefs. Please leave your comments.
And what better topic for SOTSO Hockey's 100th post...
Today’s installment: The Two Bums (incumbents) that need to be thrown out.
At the risk of bringing a little of my personal political theory in the hockey blog, the only reason office holders ever change in this county is that there is a certain block of voters (perhaps consciously or otherwise) that like to vote against incumbents no matter what. Or to put it more simply they like to vote simply to “throw the bums out.” In that spirit, to conclude the Political Debates of Hockey series, I present the two bums I would like to throw out. (And if you think real hard, you can probably name them before scrolling any further.)
Discipline Czar Brendan Shanahan
This should come as a surprise to no one. Shanahan became the disciplinarian hoping on a promise of transparency and consistency lacked by his predecessor. What we got is disciplinarian that had to suspend Pierre Marc-Bouchard in the season opener for an action the Blue Jacket's Matt Calvert did to himself, but let the Jets' Bogosian walk without discipline for effectivly ending Bouchard’s season hitting Bouchard in the back with his stick. I also have documented many other anti-Wild decisions on this blog. I liked a lot of Shanahan’s ideas, but his execution is so flawed. To replace Shanahan I support the idea of a panel made up of ex-game officials with some ex-players. There have been illusions to a shadowy anonymous panel working with Shanahan, but that’s not openness obviously. One man is taking responsibility and he failed miserably in the first year.
Commissioner Gary Bettman
I understand, the commissioner is merely the puppet of the owners, especially in the area of the CBA. In other areas though, I do believe he is leading the owners. It was more prevalent when he first started.
In those days the NHL was only relevant in markets that had teams, and southern expansion was just beginning. It was Bettman that promised the other owners expansion fees while underestimating the dilution of the talent pool (four teams in three years, and yes, I’m aware the Minnesota Wild were one of them.)
It was Bettman that took the league in the NBA’s marketing direction. It was on Bettman’s watch that crease violations went the way of travelling calls. And it was Bettman that changed the rules in this regard rather than admit there was a mistake on Brett Hull’s goal in the ’99 Stanley Cup Final.
If the owners knew what was good for them, they would choose a leader that would help save them from themselves once in a while. The owners got everything they wanted in the last CBA. They lost a season to get their precious salary cap with the promise this would bring responsibility among the ownership group. And all this has brought is another lockout where none of the 30 owners are making money because it’s apparently a strategy to ask for another salary rollback, and they can’t agree on how quickly to get to a 50-50 split like the NBA players and owners have agreed too.
Bettman probably doesn’t deserve all the criticism he gets. I mean it’s obviously an incredible amount. But the NHL would be a better place without him. All of the other commissioners have enjoyed relative labor peace in the last ten years when compared to the NHL.
Thank you for reading this series, I know this was mostly a self-centered mental exercise, but hopefully it stirred some thoughts in you as well and made you realize that you have NHL and hockey beliefs of your own that may be political in nature. Feel free to share in the comments.