Gary Bettman

Breaking down Gary Bettman’s influence among NHL owners


If you’re hoping that the latest lockout brings an end to Gary Bettman’s run as NHL commissioner, a detailed New York Times piece on his increasing influence won’t inspire confidence.

The piece points back to an interview with Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider, who illustrated how powerful Bettman has become.

“In the old days, basically the owners ran the league and almost ran it into the ground,” Snider said. “Now it’s Bettman’s league. He’s a great commissioner. Basically he’s the force behind everything we do.”

A common defense of Bettman is that he’s often a figurehead merely representing the owners’ collective interest, yet this portrait seems to muddy that perception.

Jeff Z. Klein provides an abbreviated timeline for his rise in power in the eyes of NHL owners.

  • The 1994-95 lockout wasn’t considered a success, yet it taught him to adapt. Bettman altered owner voting rules so that he could only be overruled by a three-quarters majority and also gave himself power to fine an organization for divulging information.
  • Ken Dryden described fiscal discussions with Bettman as visiting the “principal’s office.”
  • The NHL counter-sued the New York Rangers for seeking a site independent of the NHL universe in 2008. The league won soundly enough that Rangers owner James Dolan has been noticeably quiet during proceedings, according to Klein.
  • Finally, it appears that the owners are behind him completely – just like they were during the last lockout.

In other words, Bettman’s as empowered as ever among the league’s owners.

Author Jonathon Gatehouse even provides this account, which might be chilling for Bettman’s greatest detractors:

“If he wins this round, I think he’s emperor for life.”

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?