Gary Bettman’s Summer Of Content

It has been a good summer.

For National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, the Summer of 2019 has been his summer of content. Bettman, who has been serving in his position since 1993, may have had the best month of his tenure in August. The Calgary Flames and the New York Islanders have won the playoffs and the two franchises will have new homes. The Islanders Belmont Arena is scheduled to be completed in two years. The Flames building may open by 2024. That leaves Bettman with two arena problems, one in the Phoenix market and the other in Ottawa. It took the Islanders franchise three sets of owners and 22 years to get approval for a new building with Bettman involved in various sets of negotiations with different politicians. He was heavily involved in the Islanders building quest. It is unclear how much lobbying Bettman did to get the final approval for the Calgary facility. But Bettman was involved in the building talks and was criticized by Calgary politicians for doing his job. A commissioner is a lobbyist for the league and an owners’ advocate.

Bettman though doesn’t have much time to reflect on his August achievements. The owners-players Collective Bargaining Agreement ends in a little more than a year and Bettman has overseen NHL owners and players’ lockouts in 1994-95 which shut down the league for about half a season and the league did not play a game in 2004-2005. In 2012-2013, there has another lockout which cost the league about half of a season.  The arena situation in Ottawa is far from being resolved as a proposal to move the team from the Kanata, an Ottawa suburban site to a parcel in Ottawa fell through. There is yet another new owner in Arizona and again Bettman figures to be involved in trying to get a new arena. But Bettman has had a perfect summer so far.

Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders
AP Photo: Chris O’Meara