Time For a Change: Should Gary Bettman Leave His Position?

Bernard MadsenContributor IAugust 28, 2010

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 18: Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the NHL, speaks to the media prior to the afternoon session of the 2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp at the Mastercard Center on August 18, 2010 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Matthew Manor/Getty Images)
Matthew Manor/Getty Images

Here's a newsflash. Ilya Kovalchuk got another contract proposition rejected, or that's what the headlines said a couple of days, but Bettman and Daly denied having such propositions presented as rejecting a contract requires a contract to be created and signed.

For many people, this topic should be considered as done and dealt with but for hockey fans all around the world, it brings up many questions.

Hopefully, along with answers.

Let's face it, the NHL is struggling as of late and I'm not talking about this Kovalchuk soap opera.

Think about it; every year, getting TV coverage for countries that are not U.S. or Canada has become increasingly harder. Long are the days of deep analysis by ESPN and ABC Sports broadcasting weekly games.

One now is considered lucky if he or she catches one hockey game of a random team and not his or her favorite.

Sponsorship for hockey has also gone down as we see less and less desire to promote a league which cannot compete with the major sports in the U.S. We have to accept that it is a primarily Canadian sport and that's one of my points.

Gary Bettman intended to make the NHL grow into epic proportions by sending waves of excitement to places like Phoenix and Anaheim. That's o.k., but it should not drift the attention from hockey hotbeds in the north. We have to give him credit for bringing hockey back to Minnesota, a place which deserved a hockey team for a long time now.

Then come the work stoppages, in all there have been two during his tenure as a commissioner and that might not come as a surprise but one of those stoppages resulted in the cancellation of the entire 04-05 season; this was the first time in North American professional sports that such a thing happened.

The 04-05 lockout was due to several reasons and one which caught my eye was this: The league did not have a considerable income from TV contracts as they had lost contact with ABC and now only managed to get a shadow of what they wanted with NBC. Franchises were supposed to rely mostly on attendance, which led many to declare bankrupt

Bettman wanted to impose a salary cap, under many names such as cost certainty, and the NHLPA was utterly opposed to such a scheme. Now, a salary cap is not a bad thing, it provides an equal playing field for small teams and, to a point, it worked.

But now, with a Kovalchuk contract which wasn't that different to those by Pronger, Hossa and others, one begins to wonder: What's next for the league? They rejected his contract and did buy themselves a bit of respect for saying such a thing was not to occur again, but it has already occurred with other players, so what gives?

A bit confusing, isn't it?

Just think about this for a while: If Kovalchuk decides to play in the KHL (yes, a farfetched possibility but a possibility no less), then a young star has deserted the league. Usually only older players left to play in Russia and Europe, but once young talent leaves, then it might lure players into a league willing to spend more money on an easier season.

Just a thought.

Are Bettman and his crew in over their heads with all the work they have done? Is it really coming back to them, and not in the right way? The current CBA will end in 2012, on September 15 to be precise.

In order to avoid a lockout, the NHL and NHLPA have to come up with a new CBA or similar measure to provide a reasonable functioning salary system. And it certainly does not look like they are agreeing right now.

The bad thing is that the NHL might not survive another lockout. I don't think Bettman is entirely a bad guy, but sometimes, there is a correct moment for a change. I believe the time is now.

That's my opinion so please, check in and comment.