NHL Commissioner ‘Nicely’ Insults Fans
Hillary McLeod // September 14, 2012
With hockey season right around the corner, the question of whether we will see another NHL lockout has been all the talk in the hockey world. This will not be the first time the league has seen a lockout through and the possibility of another is looming.
In the 2004-05 lockout, public dislike was on Bob Goodenow, leader of the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Eventually the heat from the media became too much for the association to handle and a salary cap was agreed upon.
This time around, the media has turned the negative attention on Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL. Since negotiations began, Bettman has made some interesting comments saying that this lockout is nothing to worry about. One comment in particular drew a rise from the public and NHL fans alike.
At a press conference in Winnipeg, Bettman said, “We recovered last time because we have the world’s greatest fans.” What people heard was, “If fans weren’t such doormats, I might be worried.”
It may be true that fans want to see another NHL season roll around come October, but is this an appropriate statement to be said in front of cameras – or at all?
Bettman has held the position of commissioner of the National Hockey League since February 1, 1993. Since that time he has dealt with two NHL lockouts. The first in the 1994-95 season that lasted 104 days due to labour disputes and the second in 2004-05 that saw the cancellation of the entire season.
With this agreement in the works and social media in full swing, Bettman is far from getting away with his ‘fans as doormats’ comment. His e-mail has been passed around on Twitter and it’s no surprise that the hate mail is filling up his inbox. His comment, although meant as a compliment, was not taken lightly and the backlash in the social media world was evidence of this.
Regularly booed in appearances, Bettman’s reputation in the league has soured. In an interview, Bettman said, “The fans got an opinion. We may not agree on everything, but they care and I’ll take that.”
If you were to Google “Gary Bettman”, you can find some pages such as www.firebettman.com and www.garybettmansucks.com. Perhaps Bettman could benefit from a little sensitivity and media training. For a man in his position, an agreement like this is not the time to be offending those involved – fans included.