Great stuff by Bruce Arthur in the National Post today:
“But what National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman has managed to do in his ongoing war with Research In Motion billionaire Jim Balsillie – who has dragged the league into bankruptcy court over the Phoenix Coyotes, and where yesterday judge Redfield T. Baum ordered the two sides to mediation – is truly astounding. Three years ago Bettman was handed a hockey-mad, if stubborn and sharp-elbowed, billionaire willing to overpay for a troubled franchise. He was handed a prospective owner so appealing that, as reported by the National Post’s Theresa Tedesco, Bettman told him “You make me want to cry,” in a meeting regarding Balsillie’s second attempt to purchase an NHL franchise, in Nashville. And in three short years, the commissioner has turned that billionaire into a rabid and dangerous enemy. No matter what you think of Bettman, you have to admit that this is not an easy thing to do. But it never should have come to this. Good commissioners avert this kind of nightmare before it ever comes to pass. Good commissioners find the fix. Instead, at every potential crossroads, Bettman chose the one that led to this place.”
There is no question about any of this. Bettman has always made this personal. Way more so then Balsillie. To Bettman this has always been about ego. Not sure why, but it has.
“And instead of being honest about Phoenix’s troubles – and instead of going ahead and publicly taking over the team, much as Major League Baseball did with the late, lamented Montreal Expos in 2002 – the league propped up the corpse of Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes, and failed to staunch his losses. At every stage, there was another route, and at almost every stage, it was Bettman’s adherence to his Southern strategy that dictated the path. If it wasn’t that, it was the golden horizon of expansion dollars, unshared with the players. And so all the toxic mess that the league would have preferred stay buried has spilled out into the open. The way the NHL strung Moyes along as he watched approximately US$300-million of his fortune melt into the desert. The way the league treated the Coyotes as a sort of shell game, eventually funding the continuing losses last season while publicly insisting that everything was going to be fine. The way the league venomously turned on the sucker who lost all that money on this unmitigated disaster.”
Think about it. Moyes was Bettman’s white knight. Until he said Nyet- he wasn’t going to lose any more money. Then he became public enemy number one. If you had lots of dough, would you want to get into bed with this liar at the helm???
“Gary Bettman was handed a prospective owner with cash and passion, and he steered it – with some help from that particular stubborn and sharp-elbowed prospect – into this unthinkable morass. Yesterday, even the first real hurdle could not be cleared, and Baum ordered mediation on the subject of whether Moyes had the right to declare bankruptcy. In this case, of course, mediation seems roughly as effective as sending a cobra and a mongoose to couples counseling.”
I wonder why this is so personal to Bettman. I think that in the end, this insessant lying will eventually cost Bettman his job. Maybe not now, but soon.
“This is what Gary Bettman has wrought. At some point, you would think the NHL owners would decide that this particular commissioner is not long for this world. Even if Bettman wins here, it will be at best a Pyrrhic victory. The league has more than one fire to attend to these days, and you’d think that eventually Gary Bettman would burn up trying to put them all out.”
I agree with Bruce, but Bettman clearly has a little bit of cat in him!
Arthur is here