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While he's far from the most popular figure around hockey these days (and probably never has been), it's tough to deny the business moves Gary Bettman has made to help the NHL grow.
The NHL has added six new teams since Bettman took over as NHL Commissioner in 1993. Bettman also oversaw the move of several franchises, including the Whalers from Hartford to Raleigh, the Quebec Nordiques to Denver and the Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix. The latter two moves made him very unpopular in Canada.
Bettman attempted to expand the league's presence in non-traditional, southern and western US markets. This was designed to help the NHL get a better television deal in the United States, which Bettman eventually achieved. The NHL has had a network presence on Fox, ABC, ESPN and NBC over the course of Bettman's tenure. Prior to Bettman, the NHL had not been a regular feature on US network TV since 1975.
Bettman also oversaw several changes to the game after the 2004-05 lockout, which included a crackdown on obstruction, the elimination of the red line with regard to two-line passes and the addition of shootouts to decide games that were still tied after a five minute overtime period.
League revenues have increased under Bettman from roughly $400 million in 1993 to approximately $3.3 billion in 2011-12.
Unfortunately, Bettman's growth has come at a cost. He has angered fans in Canada because of the move of two Canadian teams early in his tenure and for turning his back on traditional markets. There have also been three major lockouts of the players under Bettman's leadership, which caused the 1994-95 season to be reduced to 48 games, the 2004-05 season to be canceled altogether and the 2012-13 season to be delayed indefinitely.
Love him or hate him, Bettman certainly has influenced and grown the game, and he therefore earns a spot on this list.