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11-13-2012, 09:36 PM
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ESPN's MacGregor on the lockout, the NHL and Bettman

As October and November and now another NHL season slip away, it's important to remember why we're reading about this. We're here because a handful of people think you and I are responsible for their own impulse control problems. They overpaid. They made bad investments. Bad choices. So the rest of us -- the fans, the players, the networks -- are on the hook for their mistakes. Sound familiar?

And having just seen the same in the NBA and the NFL, it's worth noting while the owners play us for suckers and pick our pockets, that no special-interest group in North America has ever had it tougher than aggrieved billionaire sports hobbyists.
"We're past the point of give and take," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly growled on their behalf last weekend. Grrrrrr.
And in the whole, long history of disasters and capitalism, has there ever been a bigger disaster than the National Hockey League or its mortician, Gary Bettman? The decommissioner has managed in just 20 years to make the league invisible. An afterthought. An unfunny punch line to a joke no one recalls. By his own accounting, the league is poised on the brink of insolvency. Again. Still. A constant invalid.

Bettman's legacy will be $60 million league "relocation fees," a shell game of mishandled franchises and indifferent cities, ineptitude and cupidity and a National Hockey League too big in fact and too small in the imagination. And a long history of bungled union-busting. On behalf of his owners, whenever the CBA comes up for renewal it has been Bettman's practice to bring a gun to what should be a butter knife fight. And even those fights he loses. The game staggers on. In arenas built by taxpayers.

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