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Bill Simmons "The Sports Guy" with his take on the NHL lockout

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Old
11-18-2012, 11:00 PM
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Bill Simmons "The Sports Guy" with his take on the NHL lockout

One of the most read sports columnist takes aim at Bettman and how the NHL is structured.

full article: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/...t-go-away-gary

Simmons is clearly not a big fan of Bettman:

Quote:
The case against Bettman in one sentence: The NHL sacrificed an entire season so they could reimagine their entire salary structure … and only seven years later, that "reimagining" went so poorly that they might have to sacrifice a second season because they need a mulligan.

That's all you need to know. I didn't even need to bring up the league's botched television deals, overexpansion, poorly picked markets, belated acknowledgement of the concussion epidemic, or more incredibly, how they stupidly forgot to limit the length of contracts. This is a commissioner who fought like hell to create a hard cap, and after it finally got approved, was too dense to remember to include a rule that contracts couldn't last longer than five or six years (like what the NBA does). That led to team after team circumventing that cap by giving out guaranteed deals lasting as long as 15 YEARS. Really, didn't see that loophole getting exploited, Gary? Never came up as you were hashing things out?
He also sees a problem with how the game is run and marketed itself:

Quote:
We should mention that, in a vacuum, he's correct about this particular lockout: The league's financial model (already a mess because we have too many NHL teams, which is 100 percent Bettman's fault, but whatever) can't be sustained with such meager television revenue. Hockey depends on its attendance and the unwavering devotion of its zealous fan base.
Quote:
It's the ultimate team sport, and really, that's the best thing about hockey — there's a guaranteed level of entertainment night after night after night that transcends star power. Everyone skates hard, everyone throws their bodies around, everyone plays well together, everyone gives a crap.
Quote:
So how do we end up with a salary system that allows Minnesota to spend $196 million on Ryan Suter and Zach Parise? And that's not to pick on those guys — you could build a decent playoff team around them as long as your goalie didn't stink. Just know that nobody is saying the words, "Suter and Parise are coming to town tonight!" It's just not that kind of league. You go to hockey games to see quality teams, not quality players. There's a fixed level of entertainment. Suter and Parise shouldn't make that much money because hockey players shouldn't make that much money. It has nothing to do with them.
Now I disagree on some level about the star power. I know I like to watch certain players. But it is interesting to hear his take as he is a more central media figure that only has recently gotten back into hockey in large part because his daughter loves the sport. Touches on some of the business aspects and doesn't hide his distain for Bettman which has been usual for him when he does write about hockey.

Wonder what everyone else thinks? It is different than the hockey insiders takes in my opinion.

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11-18-2012, 11:10 PM
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Well, I usually love his work and love Grantland first of all. But he is a casual hockey fan, with the Parise/Suter thing he obviously doesn't understand the regional obsession with hockey in Minnesota and the local ties that both players have and the huge surge it is giving an increasingly apathetic fanbase whose goodwill has been squandered.

He makes some good points in general though about the type of game that hockey is compared to basketball and I agree they should market it differently on a national scale, but locally these players can be stars. It's hard to market games as must-see events though on a night-to-night basis 40+ times a year when you dont' have that "star power" or the LeBron kind of player that makes people want to come singlehandedly. I don't know what the answer to that problem is but I think he is in the right area with that.

America is an idol and status-obsessed culture and hockey doesn't really lend itself to how hockey is marketed. Does he want them to go without star recognition all together? I remember listening to one of his podcasts earlier this year and him and his buddy House, who has been a longtime Capitals season-ticket holder, were talking about the Zetterberg-Weber incident in the playoffs. Neither of them could name Shea Weber - pretty much a unanimous top 4 defenseman in the entire league and the face of the Predators franchise. They were calling him Shea Walsh... there's a problem right there. These guys have unbelievable skills and two grown men that are SEASON TICKET HOLDERS can't even get the name right of somebody who's a top-10 player in the league??

Sometimes I think hockey could be better off as a weekend event with 25 less games and starting a month later. Games like how the AHL schedule is currently set up, and the season could really pick up steam after college football ends and NFL is dying down. The first few weeks of the season leading up to the Winter Classic with another break for the All-Star Game. The players would be much more fresh and the games would be even more intense, which is obviously a hallmark of the game to casual fans.

Otherwise, don't have too much to say but it's an overall interesting take from an admittedly outsider's perspective.


Last edited by puckfan13: 11-18-2012 at 11:18 PM.
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11-18-2012, 11:28 PM
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I liked his take in part because it was an outsider. It shows us what more of the casual sports fan that doesn't put hockey #1 but can get into the sport thinks. I too remember the Weber conversation and I think this is a problem with the unbalanced schedule. He would casually watch the Bruins although he hates Jacobs. That Caps fan doesn't get to see him too often on Weber. That is one of the things I hate about the schedule. He doesn't want to sell star power, but I find it stupid that these players don't make it to every city every year. If you are going to sell Ovechkin and Crosby, fans that are season ticket holders should get to see them at least once. Since the league does try to sell star power I have never understood how they allowed that change to happen.

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11-19-2012, 03:37 AM
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I liked one of his interviews with Cuban last spring. Cuban was part of the group of owners who worked on the CBA. After a few months and a ton of hours without progress, Cuban had obviously enough with all of it. Simmons told Cuban that the end point was pretty much what everybody thought would be the meeting point back in July. Cuban replied he found a new phrase for NBA. People think it's National Basketball Association but it really is Nothing But Attorneys.

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11-19-2012, 04:09 AM
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Never heard of this guy before but, I will say he is wrong about why people buy tickets. I always buy tix based on the players coming to town on the visiting teams. Before this season I would never have considered paying to see the Wild play but now I would.

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11-19-2012, 06:18 AM
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Bettman also gets a complete pass on one issue that I think really was a disaster on the league's behalf, and that was that they waited until 2005 to remove the red line offside rule and crack down on clutching and grabbing (or atleast do something about the trap).

The game without the redline offside is not like in the 80's. There are still low scoring games and defensive hockey. Sure. But, its undoubtedly more offensive than 95'-04'. I know some still feels it should be back in play, but no matter what, the game was just waaaay too defensive, during the last years before the lockout, for its own good.

In Europe the red line offside rule was removed in 1998. It was the same here. The game went from being ultra defensive and trap-minded to becoming a little more entertaining. I remember Bettman commenting on the redline after the 2002 Olympics, he said something like "you know, there wasn't all that many goals scored here too without a red line offside rule", and it became so apparant that the guy in charge had extremely little knowledge of the game. The game in Europe could be extremely defensive minded before the redline was removed. The last WCH's with the redline offside rule only 1 goal was scored over 120 minutes.

With the redline, the trap is just too good. Now you still get a mix. You can do what like Philly is doing. With a redline, a team playing like Philly just wouldn't stand a chance against a decent trapping team. You can't risk things going up ice.

My point is just that the entertainment value of the league as a whole dipped tremendously with Bettman behind the wheel from 95' to 04'. Sure there were some classic PO's match ups. But overall it was a disaster. Basically all the biggest stars (with Jagr maybe being the exception) were worn out long before their due date (Lindros, Forsberg, Bure, Kariya and co). There were extremely few goals scored. There wasn't much speed on the ice. Nobody tried to do anything with the puck in their own end or in the neutral zone. And so forth.


Last edited by Ola: 11-19-2012 at 06:40 AM.
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11-19-2012, 09:41 AM
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Were those mulligans when the NFL and NBA had lockouts last season?

Maybe the leaders of their player unions were just smarter than Fehr.

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11-19-2012, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ogopogo View Post
Never heard of this guy before but, I will say he is wrong about why people buy tickets. I always buy tix based on the players coming to town on the visiting teams. Before this season I would never have considered paying to see the Wild play but now I would.
Some people seem to think he is one of if not the most powerful voice in the sports media in the US. He literally is so powerful ESPN has allowed him to do whatever he wants. It is the reason he has his own off shoot web-site and he gets to write the exact style he wants. I suggest anyone check out grantland.com it is an interesting take a lot of times on sports and pop culture. In any event to fill you in.

From http://www.businessinsider.com/heres...to-espn-2012-8

Quote:
We knew Bill Simmons was important at ESPN, but we didn't realize just how important until we read this sentence from Karl Taro Greenfield at Bloomberg BusinessWeek: "On a recent Friday afternoon, of 100,000 visitors to ESPN.com, 60,000 were reading a new Simmons column."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres...#ixzz2ChKf9QVC
Quote:
Greenfield reports Simmons' columns draw 750,000 uniques per month and his podcast is downloaded 600,000 times a month.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres...#ixzz2ChKpsV2a
Nobody knows what his actual deal is anymore only that Wilbon and Kornheiser now make jokes about his bank account. The feeling is he sky-rocketed past Rick Reilly and has basically no rules to what he does at ESPN anymore. He also has sold two best selling books.

Quote:
In 2007, he was named the 12th-most influential person in online sports by the Sports Business Journal, the highest position on the list for a non-executive.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Simmons

He is a heavy weight for people who have run around asking what the American response is, to have a guy like Simmons actually talk and explore the lockout is a big deal. He has a legion of followers and the fact he made the choice to do this on his weekly NFL picks lead in should also not be lost. That is one of his most read columns, he wants people to read this.

Now was everything right? Probably not, I don't know about the star point, I do agree with him on Suter and Parise even as someone that likes to buy tickets to see certain stars, they are not sexy stars that sell as far as they are coming to my town. But I no doubt fit into the loyal no matter what crowd he also eludes to, I just love hockey, I like to go to games. If you pressure me into picking a couple a year then yes stars might factor in, but I am much more interested in the product itself. Which is a large part of what he is getting at. The idea that most stars spend only a third of he time out there is interesting, I mean I know it but I have never really thought of what that means to the casual sports fan.

A lot of us aren't casual hockey fans. But Simmons is the kind of fan the NHL should want and not just because of how powerful he is. The guy literally wrote articles on whatever Olympic sport caught his fancy all summer, he becomes a powerful advocate for anything he starts to like. For example he wrote an article on Handball a sport rarely if ever seen in the US and it trended on twitter pretty much because of him alone. But more importantly he is a window into big sports and he has recently become a season ticket holder to the LA Kings. Even though he is an NBA guy he goes to all the NHL games in his city. He is explaining the things that confuse him and guess what if he is confused chances are this is more in line with how casual fans think.

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11-19-2012, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedWings19405 View Post
Some people seem to think he is one of if not the most powerful voice in the sports media in the US. He literally is so powerful ESPN has allowed him to do whatever he wants. It is the reason he has his own off shoot web-site and he gets to write the exact style he wants. I suggest anyone check out grantland.com it is an interesting take a lot of times on sports and pop culture. In any event to fill you in.

From http://www.businessinsider.com/heres...to-espn-2012-8





Nobody knows what his actual deal is anymore only that Wilbon and Kornheiser now make jokes about his bank account. The feeling is he sky-rocketed past Rick Reilly and has basically no rules to what he does at ESPN anymore. He also has sold two best selling books.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Simmons

He is a heavy weight for people who have run around asking what the American response is, to have a guy like Simmons actually talk and explore the lockout is a big deal. He has a legion of followers and the fact he made the choice to do this on his weekly NFL picks lead in should also not be lost. That is one of his most read columns, he wants people to read this.

Now was everything right? Probably not, I don't know about the star point, I do agree with him on Suter and Parise even as someone that likes to buy tickets to see certain stars, they are not sexy stars that sell as far as they are coming to my town. But I no doubt fit into the loyal no matter what crowd he also eludes to, I just love hockey, I like to go to games. If you pressure me into picking a couple a year then yes stars might factor in, but I am much more interested in the product itself. Which is a large part of what he is getting at. The idea that most stars spend only a third of he time out there is interesting, I mean I know it but I have never really thought of what that means to the casual sports fan.

A lot of us aren't casual hockey fans. But Simmons is the kind of fan the NHL should want and not just because of how powerful he is. The guy literally wrote articles on whatever Olympic sport caught his fancy all summer, he becomes a powerful advocate for anything he starts to like. For example he wrote an article on Handball a sport rarely if ever seen in the US and it trended on twitter pretty much because of him alone. But more importantly he is a window into big sports and he has recently become a season ticket holder to the LA Kings. Even though he is an NBA guy he goes to all the NHL games in his city. He is explaining the things that confuse him and guess what if he is confused chances are this is more in line with how casual fans think.
Thank you for such a well written, informative post.

I personally love what he writes, and what he has brought with the introduction of Grantland. It is a different take on sports, one I find refreshing. I also agree that it is a huge deal that he used his lead in to his NFL picks to talk about the lockout. I think he has the potential, by himself, to expand the game and catch the attention of people who may not be fans as is. That may be a bit of a stretch, but he is an extremely influential voice.


Edit: I should add that there are a large number of people who really dislike him as an analyst and a writer. They think he's confusing and flat out bad at what he does. I just find his takes refreshing. I should also add that he is responsible for the extremely successful 30 for 30 films, almost all of which are amazing.


Last edited by Trl3789: 11-19-2012 at 02:46 PM.
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11-19-2012, 04:24 PM
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Katie Baker who writes at Grantland also is a pretty spectacular hockey writer in my opinion. It is not for everyone but she is the primary as far as who covers it in terms of NHL there. The articles are different and longer, but I would suggest most everyone to try out and see if you like it.

Glad a couple of you seemed to like it.

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11-19-2012, 06:10 PM
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I often disagree with Simmons, but his writing is always entertaining.

He's exactly the type of influential media personality hockey should be trying to attract as a fan. Simmons, the quintessential NBA-diehard fan, frustrated by their work stoppage last year, buys LA Kings season tickets, and sees them win their first Cup ever. Now the Kings haven't even raised their Cup banner in the 2nd biggest media market on the continent.

I'm tired of debating who's more to blame for this CBA debacle, owners or players, but I'm more tired of the NHL self-destructing.

And if you want to read pure sports-comedy gold, pull up his NBA draft-day pieces. He did one NHL draft-day column as well.

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11-19-2012, 06:15 PM
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Watch the 78 finals with Bruins vs Canadians pure violence and great body checking a lot of holding a hooking.They hated each other and that whats makes contact sport

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11-19-2012, 06:42 PM
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Well, I usually love his work and love Grantland first of all. But he is a casual hockey fan

He makes some good points in general though

Otherwise, don't have too much to say but it's an overall interesting take from an admittedly outsider's perspective.
Nailed my opinion.

Simmons' whole appeal is that he's the typical sports fan who happens to write well and be slightly more funny than the average guy.

There's many flawed facts: He's way more likely to say "What the hell is hockey doing in hot-weather cities like __________" and not have his facts straight on who's actually doing solid business.

But his mindset is pretty much spot on the pulse of the US Sports Fan who isn't a die-hard hockey guy.

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11-19-2012, 06:55 PM
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Pretty much spot on when it comes to his assessment of Bettman the guy is an incompetent moron and a cancer to this league. The little weasel should be impeached as was suggested in that article.

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11-19-2012, 07:50 PM
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I really enjoy the fact he uses a quote that doesn't have the correct number of work stoppages. It seems like as times goes on Bettman becomes more of a bogyman and is now getting credit for Ziegler's mistakes.

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11-19-2012, 10:08 PM
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-Simmons' opinions/columns aren't usual built on infallible logic and %100 factual accuracy.

-I also don't think his opinions/columns are ever totally without merit.

-When I do read his stuff I am usually entertained.

-I don't think this specific column is an exception to the above three points.

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11-19-2012, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by KINGS17 View Post
Were those mulligans when the NFL and NBA had lockouts last season?

Maybe the leaders of their player unions were just smarter than Fehr.
How can you even compare the NFL missing ZERO regular season games and the NBA missing 16 games to the NHL missing an entire season just 7 years ago only to once again be locked out into late November and who knows how much longer.

Both of those leagues are operated so much better than the farce that is the NHL.

And I love the Bettman defenders, ''He has only locked out the players 3 times and only ONCE for the entire season'' He's a joke.

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11-19-2012, 10:33 PM
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How can you even compare the NFL missing ZERO regular season games and the NBA missing 16 games to the NHL missing an entire season just 7 years ago only to once again be locked out into late November and who knows how much longer.

Both of those leagues are operated so much better than the farce that is the NHL.

And I love the Bettman defenders, ''He has only locked out the players 3 times and only ONCE for the entire season'' He's a joke.
You missed my point. I am not comparing the amount of time the players were locked out at all. Both the NFL and the NBA felt that their existing CBAs needed to be revised to give the players a smaller percentage of the revenue. Were those mulligans? Those commissioners felt very strongly that changes needed to be made. Why didn't their crystal balls get it right the time before?

Now when it comes to the amount of time the players from each league have been locked out, that speaks more to the leadership of the particular union than anything else.

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11-19-2012, 11:41 PM
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Simmons is a barometer for "sports customers in America"

What he thinks is pretty accurate to the majority of opinion.
The fact that he's wrong on things like "what is Bettman's fault and what's Zeigler's" or "who in the south is failing and who isn't" isn't really the point.

The point is: That's what about 80% of the customer base thinks, whether it's true or not.

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11-20-2012, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by KevFu View Post
Simmons is a barometer for "sports customers in America"

What he thinks is pretty accurate to the majority of opinion.
The fact that he's wrong on things like "what is Bettman's fault and what's Zeigler's" or "who in the south is failing and who isn't" isn't really the point.

The point is: That's what about 80% of the customer base thinks, whether it's true or not.
Kind of a part of why I posted it. A lot of people especially from the other countries ask what the American opinion is a lot. Now Simmons isn't always with majority but he usually is. I thought this might show it. Sometimes it is apathetic and shows a somewhat basic knowledge of the game. But it does show frustration. I thought it captured in a lot of ways how I feel the American sports fan that is a hockey fan is taking this. Not the die-hards but people the NHL wants to rely on to pump money into the game and who actually do like Simmons. By the way important to note as much as he hates Bettman he sees problems with what the players are thinking. To a larger degree than how he looked at NFLPA and the NBAPA. At least that much I remember from reading him previously.

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11-20-2012, 12:57 AM
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Now when it comes to the amount of time the players from each league have been locked out, that speaks more to the leadership of the particular union than anything else.
I am pretty pro owner and I don't know that I agree here. There are certain poison in the well elements at play. For instance and Simmons eludes to it a little with Goodell's current relationship with the Union. That will be a big hurdle if and when the NFL sits down again. If the Union distrust and doesn't like the guy they sit in front of it hurts negotiations. This is something I think should spell the end of Bettman's tenure.

I actually think that Bettman has done the job he has been asked to by his bosses. But at this point he is a problem to accomplishing things. I don't think it is because he is a bad guy or hates hockey like a lot of people think. I just think that he is in a position where it is next to impossible to remain popular. As this became more of a business and very public it hurts this notion that commissoners should be these lifetime servants. They shouldn't be and when their relationship becomes a problem in areas like this you pat them on the back and thank them for doing their turn. It is like how we limit terms on Presidents. I think that is how we need to look at these guys. If the first bargaining time goes great fine. But I don't think you should be around for more than two of these. I hope that is how it happens in the future.

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11-20-2012, 02:14 AM
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This is a commissioner who fought like hell to create a hard cap, and after it finally got approved, was too dense to remember to include a rule that contracts couldn't last longer than five or six years (like what the NBA does)
That is so true. I think a case could be made that the players accepting a cap took Bettman by surprise and he made the deal quickly because he was too happy.

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11-20-2012, 02:20 AM
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I also like his view that guys like Suter and Parise should not make that much money because they don't matter that much in the scheme of things because hockey is the ultimate team sport game.

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11-20-2012, 02:27 AM
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I am pretty pro owner and I don't know that I agree here. There are certain poison in the well elements at play. For instance and Simmons eludes to it a little with Goodell's current relationship with the Union. That will be a big hurdle if and when the NFL sits down again. If the Union distrust and doesn't like the guy they sit in front of it hurts negotiations. This is something I think should spell the end of Bettman's tenure.

I actually think that Bettman has done the job he has been asked to by his bosses. But at this point he is a problem to accomplishing things. I don't think it is because he is a bad guy or hates hockey like a lot of people think. I just think that he is in a position where it is next to impossible to remain popular. As this became more of a business and very public it hurts this notion that commissoners should be these lifetime servants. They shouldn't be and when their relationship becomes a problem in areas like this you pat them on the back and thank them for doing their turn. It is like how we limit terms on Presidents. I think that is how we need to look at these guys. If the first bargaining time goes great fine. But I don't think you should be around for more than two of these. I hope that is how it happens in the future.
There is a counterpoint to the issue and I really like the way you have characterized the history where I tend to agree with you. When you replace figureheads, they tend to lose power. I think the poisoning on both sides has gone on a long time. Removing Bettman may very well take some of the chains off some big uglies on the ownership side and they will be less restrained. Jacobs wasn't selected as head of the BOG for his longevity; it was because of popularity and a belief that he reflected the consensus of the group. Imagine the whole group with that background selecting another commissioner. Do you really the think the group is prepared to select a commissioner that is more warm and fuzzy? I am more in the camp that the next guy at this point is likely to be one big cold prickly.

It is especially popular in hockey to see truculence as a positive characteristic and to an extent that goes on with both sides. It is not conducive to a cooperative relationship; it is counterproductive. This is especially true in negotiating because compromise with a minimization of ill feeling is usually the best road to a productive future for both sides.

Finally, for the other side, you have Fehr. He is characterized by the truculent attitude as well. This leads to falling into the now social norm of sales pitch over reality. The agents of the players consistently use pitch over reality to secure clients and in negotiations with clubs. The players need to learn how to differentiate pitch over reality as is abundantly evident from their tweets.

I liked the call for a fleshed out proposal from the PA by the league. It is moving off the spin towards the reality.

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11-20-2012, 02:35 AM
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Kimota
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Originally Posted by Ola View Post
Bettman also gets a complete pass on one issue that I think really was a disaster on the league's behalf, and that was that they waited until 2005 to remove the red line offside rule and crack down on clutching and grabbing (or atleast do something about the trap).

The game without the redline offside is not like in the 80's. There are still low scoring games and defensive hockey. Sure. But, its undoubtedly more offensive than 95'-04'. I know some still feels it should be back in play, but no matter what, the game was just waaaay too defensive, during the last years before the lockout, for its own good.

In Europe the red line offside rule was removed in 1998. It was the same here. The game went from being ultra defensive and trap-minded to becoming a little more entertaining. I remember Bettman commenting on the redline after the 2002 Olympics, he said something like "you know, there wasn't all that many goals scored here too without a red line offside rule", and it became so apparant that the guy in charge had extremely little knowledge of the game. The game in Europe could be extremely defensive minded before the redline was removed. The last WCH's with the redline offside rule only 1 goal was scored over 120 minutes.

With the redline, the trap is just too good. Now you still get a mix. You can do what like Philly is doing. With a redline, a team playing like Philly just wouldn't stand a chance against a decent trapping team. You can't risk things going up ice.

My point is just that the entertainment value of the league as a whole dipped tremendously with Bettman behind the wheel from 95' to 04'. Sure there were some classic PO's match ups. But overall it was a disaster. Basically all the biggest stars (with Jagr maybe being the exception) were worn out long before their due date (Lindros, Forsberg, Bure, Kariya and co). There were extremely few goals scored. There wasn't much speed on the ice. Nobody tried to do anything with the puck in their own end or in the neutral zone. And so forth.
But teams like Philly are a rarity because they can afford to not have to trap because they have a stacked team. But in this day and age, if you don't trap you get eaten alive. That is why Mark Crawford doesn't have a NHL job.

And I don't find hockey to be better now than it was between 95 and 04. Where's the heated rivalry like Avs-Wings?

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