Gary Bettman: Can the NHL's Commisioner Go Anywhere without Being Booed?
The majority of National Hockey League fans do not like commissioner Gary Bettman.
This fact has become very clear over the years since the 2004-2005 season was cancelled by a lockout.
A number of factors contribute to this widespread disrespect.
An entire season was lost under his command.
He's developed a points system which awards teams for losing after regulation.
He puts hockey franchises where there is insufficient fan interest, then refuses to admit when they're not working out. He is stagnant in his inexplicable rejection of permitting relocation of said teams to Canadian cities that are so excited about hockey that they would sell out 13,000 season tickets in 15 minutes.
Among these major factors, there is the head-scratching annoyance that his salary has nearly doubled since the lockout (to over $7 million per year), whereas fan satisfaction with his choices have significantly dropped.
Bettman has done far more than enough to be properly rewarded with an intense reception of negativity every time he presents himself before an NHL arena.
Here are some of the recent expressions of dissatisfaction, ranked in ascending order of "passion," as Bettman would call it.
Montreal, 2009 Entry Draft
Skip to 0:15.
Bettman seemed surprised that he was being booed, being momentarily speechless before he started speaking. He was only able to quirk out an awkward smile.
After his heavily American-accented French, Bettman chuckled to himself and kept talking as the booing died down.
Ottawa, 2008 Entry Draft
Bettman accomplishes nothing by complimenting the "passion" of an arena that hates him as a commissioner.
Columbus, 2007 Entry Draft
Skip to 0:15.
This was actually a bit surprising.
Nonetheless, the fans still know enough about hockey to do the right thing for the commissioner.
The response to Bettman's peppy "Hello Columbus" is not only admirable, but slightly humorous as well.
Philadelphia, 2010 Stanley Cup Finals
Skip to 7:50.
As if anything else would be expected from a place that former-Phillies player Mike Schmidt once said "is the only city where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day."
Philadelphia is a tough sports city.
The fans will not hold back from booing their own players when they aren't playing the way they're expected.
So, when this atrocity of a commissioner stood in the middle of the then-Wachovia Center, over 19,000 fans let him understand their disapproval.
Here he pulls out the word "passion" again, as if he is actually fooling anyone into thinking he likes how much he's hated.
Detroit, 2009 Stanley Cup Finals
New Jersey, 1995 Stanley Cup Finals
Bettman's bad decisions have a long history. Before he decided to expand the league by adding the Nashville Predators, it was considered that the New Jersey Devils might move there.
He wasn't even on the ice for this expression of disgust.
An entire arena shouted their disapproval to him by name, and 16 years later Bettman still hasn't figured out how to stop upsetting NHL fans.
Vancouver, 2011 Stanley Cup Finals
Make no mistake that this wasn't a bunch of sore losers booing the opposition's shining moment.
It's quite clear that when Tim Thomas receives the Conn Smythe and when Zdeno Chara hoists the Stanley Cup, there is cheering.
However, each time Bettman took to the microphone, it was an appropriately brutal reception.
After a relatively normal level of booing during the Conn Smyth presentation, the crowd momentarily entered a "Bettman sucks" chant at 1:20 of this video.
When Bettman began speaking again at 2:10, the amount of booing became downright hilarious.
Bettman needed to yell into the microphone in order to be heard. He was shaking like a six-year-old child who had taken four shots of espresso.
The commissioner was visibly uncomfortable, rushed his speech, and left the ice as soon as possible.