Gary Bettman and the Canadian Conundrum

Matt Eichel@@mattyalloutSenior Writer IApril 21, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 14:  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference before Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Arena on April 14, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Enough already, Gary Bettman! Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin do not need your help to get deep in the playoffs!

Wondering what the deal is?

It's simple.

And frustrating for all Canadian hockey fans.

But before we dive into this saga (or conundrum as I like to call it), let's see how Bettman and the NHL best describes success in their terms.

For the NHL to be viable and financially successful, they must sell the game.  

How can they do this?

By selling their biggest and brightest young stars.

Two prime examples: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

And why wouldn't the NHL market their two biggest stars?

Both players are the heart and soul of their franchises and play hard and to win every game, every shift.

The game of hockey is synonymous with Crosby and Ovechkin as it once was with Yzerman, Gretzky, Lemieux, and Roy.

Granted, it's obvious that this is the way to market the NHL to attain the largest fanbase that they possibly can.

Now here's where the saga goes sour.

It's not fair to call it a "hate" relationship that Bettman has with Canada, its fans, or the cities in which NHL franchises reside.

It would more likely be summed up in words such as "bitter," "unforgivable," or even "cruel."

Since 1993, not one Canadian team has captured hockey's ultimate prize, although teams have been close several times.

Yet, as the NHL enters a new era of hockey with new superstars and new dynasties emerging out of the woodwork, Gary Bettman has taken his relationship of disdain towards Canadian teams to a whole new level.

It may be, or may not be Bettman.

It may be a major coincidence, but the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs have so far given ample proof that Canada's three playoff teams are not going anywhere despite their best efforts.

A few examples, of course.

Game 2 between the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings. Kevin Bieksa is hit in the face with a puck and while trying to make his way to the bench has the puck go off his skate.

Immediately, the call is too many men on the ice and the Canucks are put on yet another penalty kill—their seventh kill of the game.

The kicker: the power play was in overtime on which Anze Kopitar tied the series with the winning goal.

This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs right?

And there was a call for too many men on the ice when Bieksa is injured trying to get off?

And didn't even play the puck with his stick?

Game 2 between the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens.  Montreal defenseman Hal Gill gets called for interference when knocking Washington's Jason Chimera off the puck in front of the benches.  

A routine hit to separate a player from the puck.


Later, Mike Knuble bowls over Montreal netminder Jaroslav Halak giving Nicklas Backstrom ample net space to put the puck to the twine.

And was there a call?

I think you know the answer.

Game 4 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators. Video replay evidence shows that a Pittsburgh defender tips the puck out of play in his own zone with no one around and the ref standing five feet away.

A penalty in a regular game.

However, the call is made that it was tipped and Pittsburgh is not penalized.


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