It only took one full season as NHL commissioner and a total of 20 months after the start of his reign for Gary Bettman to initiate his first work stoppage in 1994. His second season on the job was shriveled to a partial campaign and, a decade later, outdid himself with another lockout that abolished the whole 2004-05 season.
Overseeing the only full-season hiatus in any of the North American professional sports leagues’ history has not dislodged Bettman from his position for seven-plus years. In turn, to his credit, he has been able to oversee some more memorable developments, such as the inception of the Winter Classic.
Still, that does not alter the blemish scar on his transcript that is the 2004-05 season that never was. Furthermore, the current lockout, the NHL’s third in a span of 19 years, throws a sizeable splash of vinegar on any of the sweeter developments on Bettman’s watch.
If that, along with the half-season that was lost a decade prior were to be joined by another half- or full-season stoppage, the case for Bettman’s continued tenure will be weakened all the more.
Even if the 2012-13 campaign begins in early November, which now looks like a real possibility, any time lost on top of the previous lockouts is still not helping Bettman’s appeal. It will take time and some more savory moments to attain any improvement and embolden the justification of his tenure.
A similar assessment can be made of a handful of NHL coaches or general managers who have held their respective positions for well more than a decade.
All are living proof that at least a few gratifying positives can be reaped if you stick with the same personnel long enough. Yet those personnel can become harder to defend if their franchises do not progress quickly enough and do not stave off an imbalance of negatives.
Given the generally brittle nature of a coaching or management job, it is only naturally a wonder that any of the following men have lasted this long. Some have at least, even in relatively momentary spurts, allowed their fanbases to be grateful that their employers have stuck with them, although they would all be advised to attain more of those brighter moments sooner rather than later.
Here is a look at some those surprisingly long-tenured NHL personnel.