NHL Lockout 2012: Is Gary Bettman Negotiating or Seeking Publicity?

Alex BaconCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League leaves the podium after addressing the media at Crowne Plaza Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a buildup of optimism, Gary Bettman shot down almost all hope that the NHL would end the lockout and have a full 82-game season.

Bettman had proposed what seemed to be a fair deal to Donald Fehr and the NHLPA, but the NHLPA disagreed.

The proposed deal was the first time that either side had brought forward a deal for 34 days. The proposal was a shock to the hockey world. Nobody had expected the NHL to make the next offer, let alone one that split hockey related revenues at 50-50.

Blinded by the term 50-50, fans' opinions of Gary Bettman changed drastically; they thought he was ready to negotiate.

But, is Bettman really ready to negotiate or did he know by making this proposal he would have the public backing him up?

Now, Bettman isn’t really loved by hockey fans; we know this from every time he presents the cup. Most fans are taking the the players' side. They don’t care about the owners, they go to the games to be entertained and see their favorite superstars play.

In their eyes, this lockout is about greedy owners that are willing to deprive them of their entertainment for more money.

While that may or may not be true, it’s obvious that Bettman and the owners want more support on their side.

Bettman didn’t expect the proposal to be accepted, but he knows that the idea of hearing 50-50 will make the public respect him more.



By having the NHLPA reject his proposal, it makes the union look like the villain.

Then, two days later, the NHLPA made three counter-proposals to Bettman’s original proposal; he rejected all three of them without hesitation.

Regardless of if the proposals were good or bad, Bettman’s quickness in rejecting them made matters a lot worse. Without getting into specifics of the proposed deals, it’s obvious that the three were not enough of a compromise to attract Bettman’s attention.

Had he taken a day or two to carefully review the NHLPA’s offers, then maybe negotiations would be going more smoothly.

Instead, Bettman went right to the media and expressed his discouragement.

According to Charles Curtins of NJ.com, Bettman called the meetings “a step backwards,” saying that the two sides are “nowhere near a deal” and are “speaking different languages.”

These quotes may also be a publicity stunt by Bettman. They could be to sway the public’s opinion and make the NHLPA look like its offers were not based off of his recent proposal.

Whether it is beneficial to have the fans on your side may or may not matter. But the longer this war of public relations goes on, the more impatient the fans are getting.

In the scheme of things, the fans don’t care about these negotiations; they just want their hockey.


Why should the fans be deprived of their beloved sport of hockey because owners and players can’t decide how much of the fans' money each side gets?

As long as they pay the money, don’t get them stuck in the middle of it and force them to choose sides. Just give them what they want: hockey.

What about the ushers, vendors, security personnel, referees and small-business owners that make their money because of the NHL?

They suffer too, and they don’t have the millions of dollars that players and owners have to get by during the work stoppage.

This is the third time the NHL has cancelled games due to an extended work stoppage under Bettman, so he believes that the risk is worth the reward. The NHL knows from past experiences that the fans will come back and the league will continue to make money.