Bettman's NHL reign plagued by controversy

 

December, 1992 Gary Bettman is unanimously voted NHL commissioner, with the mandate of expanding the game in the United States through improved marketing and lucrative TV deals.<br>

 
 
 
 
 

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December, 1992 Gary Bettman is unanimously voted NHL commissioner, with the mandate of expanding the game in the United States through improved marketing and lucrative TV deals. (He takes the post officially on Feb. 1, 1993.) Critics contend that making a lawyer from New York the head of the league is an attempt to "Americanize" Canada's game.

1996 The league nears the end of extended expansion into the south, which sees the number of teams jump from 21 to 30. The majority of new teams are located in the U. S. Sunbelt. Teams from Winnipeg and Quebec City are also relocated to southern markets, dropping the number of Canadian teams to six. Mr. Bettman also successfully lands Fox Broadcasting as a U. S. television provider, giving it preference for scheduling playoff games over the CBC.

1999 Mr. Bettmanappealsto the Canadian government for tax breaks for Canadian franchises, which almost unanimously find themselves facing financial difficulties while trying to compete with U. S. franchises. After promising a bailout package, the government decides to pull the NHL subsidy off the table.

2001 Mr. Bettmanmakesan impassioned speech, pledging the six remaining Canadian teams will not leave the country despite continued financial concerns.

2003 The NHL hits a low point, with financial uncertainty surrounding a number of teams (including the Ottawa Senators), U. S. viewership hitting rock bottom and speculation surrounding the following year's Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

2004 Mr. Bettmanannounces a full-season lockout after contract negotiations between the league and the players' union break down. Team owners give Mr. Bettman the right to unilaterally veto any union offer. An agreement is reached after more than 300 days, which includes a salary cap system that levels the financial playing field for cash-strapped teams. The league also accepts a U. S.TV agreement with ESPN and NBC, much less valuable than the 1996 deal with Fox.

2006 RIM founder Jim Balsillie agrees to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins, but pulls his offer after the league imposes a no-move clause that would keep the Canadian billionaire from relocating the team to Canada.

2007 Mr. Balsillieeyes Nashville's struggling franchise with the intention of moving it to Hamilton. Mr. Bettman calls the relocation plans "premature"; the league refuses to consider purchase and relocation requests at the same time. The deal falls apart.

October, 2008 Mr. Bettman announces plans to widen the hockey fan base in Europe by playing more regular season games overseas, but says establishing a team in Europe isn't on the immediate horizon. The chances of expansion into Canada appear to take a hit.

 
 
 
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