NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement: Is It Time to Fire Gary Bettman?

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NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement: Is It Time to Fire Gary Bettman?
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As September 15th moves ever closer, the thought of yet another lockout has many fans of the NHL questioning if commissioner Gary Bettman should keep his job.

It seems that every time a new collective bargaining agreement needs to be hashed out between the NHL owners and the NHLPA the first move made is Bettman stating he will lock the players out.

With both the NBA and NFL having lockouts within the last year-and-a-half, Bettman should remember what a lost season does to revenue.

While Bettman can boast a large revenue growth under his tenure—from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion since the last lockout, as reported by The Montreal Gazette—the simple fact of the matter is that Bettman has already been through two lockouts and seems to be doing very little to stop another from happening.

This past postseason saw some southern markets interest grow, with Phoenix making it to the conference finals. Nashville went on to the second round and Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup.

A lockout after a postseason that saw a number of new players on the ice do well could be catastrophic for those small-market southern teams.

Which brings up another point about Bettman, he was the mastermind behind the southern expansion and relocation. There are a few teams that are struggling, but none more so than Phoenix.

In 2009, Phoenix Coyotes owners declared bankruptcy and rather than sell to a reliable, well situated owner, Bettman has been fighting to keep a team in a town that does not seem to care about them.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With a number of cities in the northern US and in Canada that are hungry for a team, one they would actually support, it seems like very bad business sense to keep a team in an area where it is failing.

Instead, Bettman has the NHL owning the Phoenix Coyotes until a sale can be completed to keep the team in Arizona. They have owned the team since 2009 when, according to the Forbes profile, the league bought them for $140 million.

There was a prospective buyer, Greg Jamison, who has had a ton of issues (USA Today) just trying to buy and keep the team in Phoenix.

Combining the Phoenix disaster with two previous lockouts and a third on the horizon, it may serve the owners of the NHL to replace Bettman.

He has lost the faith of the fans, and even if the owners are making valid points for the latest CBA, no one believes a word that comes out of Bettman’s mouth.

There are websites and Facebook groups popping up all over the internet, like The Fire Garry Bettman Movement on Facebook, or FireBettman.com that show the fan sentiment.

The fans have had enough of this man, and now players are also starting to actively speak out, as Zach Parise did recently against Bettman (St. Paul Pioneer Press).

Yet Bettman remains blind to the public outrage, he is saying little (at least to the press) about the players' comments. Instead he is pushing on giving as little ground as possible while threatening another lockout.

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These are not the actions of a man in charge; they are actions of a despotic leader who is rapidly losing control.

 

During the 2004-05 CBA that saw the entire season end in a lockout, the fans somewhat supported Bettman and the owners.

This time around, there are no calls of the players being greedy, it’s the owners.

That and that the fans of the NHL have had more than they can stomach of Gary Bettman and would rather watch Donald Trump publicly tell Bettman his famous words: You’re Fired!

If the owners wind up losing more than they desire in the current CBA, it may in fact be Bettman’s swan song.

Should he instead lock out the league and gain the owners all they desire as he did in 2005, he will have a long tenure ahead of him.

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