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The Times
  • Alix Kunkle: Time for Bettman to go

  • I've said it before. In fact, it was maybe three months ago that I said this very same sentence. But right now, it rings true more than ever. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman needs to go. Not soon. Now. 

     

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  • I've said it before. In fact, it was maybe three months ago that I said this very same sentence. But right now, it rings true more than ever. 
    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman needs to go. Not soon. Now. 
    I know, I know. Many people down here in the south don't pay too much attention to the NHL. The closest professional team is in Dallas. And the next closest is probably St. Louis or Nashville. 
    But I have been following the NHL lockout events closely. Not to the point where I'm retweeting every single little update that comes out of the talks (for example, so-and-so left the room to go to the bathroom. Not a good sign... (and yes, this was one of the tweets I saw over the course of the last three months), but I've been following them. 
    The optimism that started floating around this week was probably our best shot at salvaging a season. And the sport, for that matter. 
    And then somebody — I can't conclude whether it was Donald Fehr or Mr. Bettman himself — popped the balloon, and all that  optimism came crashing down like a ton of bricks. 
    Regardless, this is Gary's ship. And at this point, I think he's perfectly fine with letting it sink like the Titanic. 
    Three lockouts in a 19-year tenure isn't exactly a good thing, first and foremost. Especially when there's potentially two cases of lost seasons within 10 years. That can cripple a sport — and this latest lockout very well could cripple the sport to where it might not recover. 
    But when Napoleon Bettman (he looks and acts like Napoleon, so I shall address him as such) addressed the media Thursday night, he pretty much had himself a temper tantrum. There's a few photos and videos that will show him making facial expressions I didn't realize were humanely possible, and becoming extremely testy when being asked about how he can endure three lockouts in his tenure. 
    In other words, it was like an NBA press conference after a star player just got ejected for two technical fouls. Or a Herm Edwards press conference when he was with the Jets. 
    And this is what we want running our National Hockey League? 
    The ageless wonder himself, Bud Selig, doesn't even do this. When he gets into a pickle, he just shrugs his shoulders and calls it a tie. 
    The emperor Roger Goodell doesn't do this. He just finds away to eliminate more contact from the game or "discover" another bounty scandal. 
    David Stern doesn't even do this. He'll just make sure the players are wearing three-piece suits.
    Sure, Napoleon has done some good things for the NHL. For example, he was the coordinator of expansion in the NHL to "odd" markets such as Nashville and Atlanta (though the Thrashers were an epic failure). Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes though. 
    Page 2 of 2 - But Napoleon also watched storied franchises such as Winnipeg, Quebec and Hartford relocate to Phoenix, Colorado and Carolina, respectively. Sorry, but I still think the Jets and Nordiques uniforms are 50 times better than the Coyotes and Avalanche will ever be, and there's nothing that can beat the Brass Bonanza. If you don't know what that is, Youtube it. 
    Bettman also watched the sport transition to NBC and Ver — er, sorry, NBC Sports, where the announcers are Doc Emerick and several people who know nothing about the sport of hockey, such as Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire. I miss the days of Gary Thorne and Darren Pang. I like Doc Emerick, but I can't mute my television enough when Ed Olczyk or the bald guy McGuire comes on. Gord Miller at TSN and Jim Hughson at CBC are much more enjoyable to listen to than anyone who comes on NBC.
    I don't care who becomes the next commissioner of the NHL. 
    Well, OK. Yes I do. We don't need someone like Goodell, Selig, Fehr, or Colin Campbell running the league. 
    But please. At this point, just let it be anyone but Napoleon Bettman. Because he's about as effective as running a major sport as Napoleon Dynamite. 
    Alix Kunkle is the news editor of the Leesville Daily Leader in Leesville, La. You may contact him at news@leesvilledailyleader.com.
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