5 Realistic Possibilites to Replace Gary Bettman as NHL Commissioner
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Gary Bettman knows how to win the battle.
He almost always comes out on top in his negotiations.
But in winning each individual battle, he may be losing the war.
No sports commissioner was met with such universal enmity as Bettman was during the NHL lockout. Bettman stood up for the hard-line owners who wanted to cut back the percentages that were paid to players and he won that battle convincingly.
But that was not enough for Bettman. He had to rub the players' face in it.
In doing so, he turned off even more people and the level of animus between the players and Bettman, the fans and Bettman and at least some of the owners and Bettman has never been stronger.
Bettman may or may not survive.
Here's a look at five realistic candidates who could probably move into the commissioner's office if Bettman gets dismissed or walks away from the job.
Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils
Lou Lamoriello has been the primary reason the New Jersey Devils have become one of the classiest and most consistent organizations in sports.
Before coming to the Devils in 1987, he was the hockey coach at Providence College before becoming the school's athletic director.
Lamoriello has never looked for personal glory. Every move he has made has been designed to advance the cause of the New Jersey Devils.
"No one is more important than the logo," Lamoriello told NHL.com. "My philosophy has always been to respect teammates. In order to have success, you need each other. You need your trainers, your equipment people and your scouts."
He knows how to keep his eyes on the prize.
If Lamoriello ever became the commissioner of the NHL, every move would be done to advance the cause of the NHL.
Doesn't sound anything like Gary Bettman, does it?
Bill Daly, NHL
Bill Daly is the deputy commissioner of the NHL.
Prior to the final weeks of the lockout, Daly was seen as a much more reasonable leader than Gary Bettman.
Daly and NHLPA assistant Steve Fehr kept up a much more regular dialogue than Bettman and Donald Fehr did when the lockout was in the deep freeze stage.
Daly may have hurt his cause when he referred to contract term limits as "the hill we will die on (source: Washington Times)."
That meant that the NHL was not about to give up its stance on the length of free-agent contracts.
Daly told the Canadian National Post that he would be interested in the commissioner's job under the right circumstances.
Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Steve Yzerman was one of the greatest players in the history of the Detroit Red Wings.
Yzerman, a Hall of Famer, is probably just beneath Gordie Howe on the Red Wings' ladder and equal to Nick Lidstrom.
Since his playing career ended, he has been an NHL front-office executive. After starting with the Red Wings, Yzerman became the vice president and general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He also led Canada's gold medal effort in ice hockey at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He will lead Canada's Olympic hockey effort again in 2014.
Yzerman is a hard worker and he would appear to be the kind of individual who can grow into whatever responsibility in the hockey world comes his way.
John Collins, NHL
John Collins in the NHL's chief operating officer.
Collins met with the NHL's sponsors during the strike, and he was praised for his transparency and his honesty (source: globeandmail.com).
He is also the executive who came up with the idea of the Winter Classic (source: TribLive.com).
The commissioner's position is largely about increased business and continued growth of the NHL, and few individual have the pulse of the NHL like Collins. The former NFL executive understands what it takes to succeed and he might be the ideal candidate for the position.
John Davidson, Columbus Blue Jackets
John Davidson has been an All-Star goalie in the NHL, one of the league's best color analysts and a successful executive.
After a six-year run with the St. Louis Blues, Davidson has moved on to become the president of hockey operations for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He helped turn the Blues around and is now committed to doing the same with the Blue Jackets.
Davidson is far more personable and more communicative than Bettman. He understands the business of hockey and would be a solid front man for the league.