Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Operation Replace Gary Bettman

Gary Bettman has been Commissioner of the NHL since February 1993. During that time the league has had one strike-shortened season, completely missed another due to the lockout and gradually eroded its fan base south of the border to the point where more Americans tune in to watch poker and dog shows than to watch hockey.

Franchises in Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Ottawa have been through bankruptcies while owners such as Bruce McNall, Henry Samueli and William Del Biaggio have all had run-ins with the law, and some have even spent time behind bars. On the ice, the game has transformed from the run-and-gun offensive mentality that dominated the 80's and early 90's to a stifling defensive trend that took hold after a period of over-expansion.

Ahhhh, yes expansion. Bettman awarded franchises in noted hockey hotbeds like Nashville, Florida, Columbus, and Atlanta and relocated teams to Carolina, Colorado and Phoenix all with the idea that blanketing America with NHL teams would directly translate into a lucrative network contract from one of ABC, CBS, Fox or NBC. I'm no accountant, but I don't think the current arrangement with NBC (no upfront rights fee and a split of ad revenue) would qualify as 'lucrative'.

If the picture I just painted wasn't scary enough for hockey fans, let's not forget the horrific scene that played out with so many of the third jerseys during Bettman's watch. Click here, here or here...but keep the lights on.

Throughout this period of time, there has been one constant in hockey: Bettman. The dimunitive former NBA lawyer who never met a person he couldn't irritate (or a fan he couldn't alienate) has had his cold, sweaty hands around the neck of our game for seventeen years.

He has stolen teams from two Canadian cities while going back to two American cities where hockey had already failed, and now refuses to allow the mess that is the Phoenix Coyotes to head north. If Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin don't come along, you could argue that hockey would be a total afterthought in the US...if it isn't already.

Bettman's two most notable contributions to the game have been instituting a salary-cap and continuosly making Ron Maclean uncomfortable. Nothing else positive stands out.

It used to be that the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL combined to create the 'big four' of professional sports. Unfortunately, those days are well behind us and even if Bettman isn't the primary reason for it, well, change is supposed to be a good thing, isn't it?

The NHL needs some new blood at the very top, someone who knows how to market the game, someone who can relate to the blue collar fan that Bettman and his owners have all but forgotten. The business of hockey needs a new face.

And it just so happens that I know the perfect candidate to replace him: Vince Shlomi.

Or as most people know him, The Slap Chop guy. Or the ShamWow guy. All we've been hearing for years is that the league needs to sell itself to Americans, so who better to get the job done than the guy that made millions and coined catchphrases off of two regular, unspectacular products?

Vince could step in and whip the American population into a frenzy, he could create excitement and buzz and even if he doesn't know a thing about hockey, well, how would that be any different than the current situation?

I can see it now: Linguine, Martini, Zack Stortini.


  1. Haha ... google Vince Shlomi and take a look at his mug/hospital shots.

    I agree that Bettman should go, what scares me though is the thought of Gretzky being commissioner.


  2. Agreed . . . The Count has GOT to be fired. In my humble opinion, he is the worst thing that has ever happened to hockey, period.

    YongeandCollege does raise a good point about the Bruins 3rd Jersey (not bad at all).


  3. Can't believe you guys are defending that Bruins jeresey, it's the worst one!

    Got this email and had to post it:

    Dear: Junkie,

    Instead of talking about boring topics such as Gary Bettman? Can we finally acknowledge the huge off season the Oakland Raiders just had. If you missed it let me fill you in;

    1. Rolando McClain- Finally Al Davis gets the "big thumper" in the middle. McClain is a NFL ready MLB. He honed his skills under the watchful eye of Nick Saban at 'Bama.

    2. Jason Campbell- Was traded for a 4th rd pick in 2012. Did Al Davis just fleece Shanahan again? Yes. With Campbell, the Raiders automatically have the 2nd best QB in the AFC West behind Rivers. Finally with a competent QB, the Raiders offense WILL shine very bright with young stars as Run DMC, DHB, and pro-bowl alternate '09 TE Zach Miller.

    3. Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell-Late round draft jems from Al Davis. Two huge OL to start from day 1.

    4. Lamar Houston- DT- Texas. The final piece to shopping the run.

    5. Kameron Wimbley- DE/LE- Wimbley a former 1st rd pick from Florida St, was acquired for a mere 3rd rd pick.

    With all of Al Davis new acquisitions, the 2010 Oakland Raiders are set to take back the AFC West and complete a huge turnaround season from 4-12 to 10-6. The new found optimism in Alameda, will be a welcomed change for current stars such as Richard Seymour, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Sebastian Janikowski.

    Just Win Baby!

    Al Davis


    The Autumn Wind is a Raider.

  4. Mr.Davis,

    You haven't lost less than 11 games in a season since 2002! You traded your next two first rounders for a 30 year old defensive player who peaked in 2007. Your coach fist fights with his assistants and your owner may or may not be a zombie. You traded your next two first rounders for a 30 year old defensive player who peaked in 2007. I had to repeat that line because it was such a ridiculously stupid move that it makes the Leafs acquisition of Phil Kessel for their two first rounders look sensible in comparison.

    Jason Campbell is a marginal quarterback (55 TD's against 38 picks over his career) who has never even played a playoff game. I agree that a marginal quarterback is a massive upgrade over Jamarcus Russell, but Campbell is not the answer. By the way, you currently have seven QB's on your active roster. Seven!

    I admire your continued perseverance as a fan of a totally awful team, there are way too many bandwagon hoppers out there, and I understand that the offseason is a time when every fan can claim optimism, but are you drunk? It's either you or the Clippers for the title of "most dysfunctional pro franchise in North America", and I think the Raiders probably win. Unfortunately, that one doesn't count in the standings.


  5. So I guess OV is now officially worse than Crosby, not that there was much doubt left. Heck, OV might not even be the best player on his own team (Backstrom).

  6. OV is now 1-3 in game 7's, but I don't think he deserves the blame. Semin and Green cost them the series.

  7. How about Cammalleri? Gainey redeemed?