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Is Gary Bettman in trouble?

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Gary Bettman

The NHL’s wartime consigliere, Gary Bettman must answer to the Board of Governors in the aftermath of the lockout. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

By Stu Hackel

In the aftermath of the lockout, many people have discussed how the NHL should express its regret to fans. ESPN.com’s Pierre Lebrun had a list of 10 things the league could do, the top one being free access to the Center Ice TV package — an idea that others endorse, but it will likely never happen because, as Steve Lepore explained in his Puck The Media blog, it’s not solely the property of the league to give away.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News had another idea: Fire Gary Bettman.

“The league owes its fans,” Campbell argues. “And one way it can display that it is truly willing to turn the page is to tell Bettman that he must go. It’s not because all of this is necessarily Bettman’s fault because he has been doing the bidding of his employers, but the reality is that he has been the central character of three lockouts and history will show his name will always be associated with those work stoppages before anything else.”

There was no more reviled figure during the lockout than Bettman, not even Don Fehr, who probably finished second. Bettman was savaged in blogs, in online magazines (Grantland‘s Bill Simmons, for one, really carved him up) on social media and on video (Read: Best NHL Lockout Songs and Parodies). And, unfortunately, he is an easy target. Bettman never does himself any favors with his generally abrasive style, his temper tantrums (whether genuine or contrived), and his uncomfortable manner; TSN’s camera crew caught him at his glowering best in their “escalator shot” which they used frequently during the past month or so — and here’s a shortened version; the original is probably twice as long, his expression and gaze unchanged for the entire ride.

Of course, the commissioner didn’t need this lockout to plunge on the fans’ popularity charts. He was already way down there, unrivaled in hockey’s dislike department, a status he’s held for most of his nearly 20 years on the job. Why that is and how justified it is can be debated, but the animus itself is a fact and this third lockout merely attached an anchor to his leg as he submerged further.

But like suggestions that the league give away the Center Ice package, a Bettman dismissal probably won’t be a perk used to pacify fans who feel they are owed something once the game returns to the ice. Being commish is not a popularity contest, other than among the owners, and if he’s going to go — which I tend to doubt he will — it will be because they don’t like the deal he’s made with the players, and feel the lockout itself was a mistake or that he misled them somehow. Those are the major criteria by which his bosses will judge him and, on a gut level, I don’t sense that the majority hold those opinions.

That’s not to say, however, the Board of Governors won’t have some questions for him when they meet on Wednesday to ratify the new CBA. They may want to know why the deal couldn’t have been wrapped up a month ago when the players agreed on the 50-50 split of HRR. They may query him on not being able to grind the NHLPA down on all the contracting rights, especially free agency and the package of items that leave players coming out of Entry Level deals with the same rights as before. They may ask why he agreed to potentially expose them financially, even if it’s a remote possibility, on the players’ new pension plan. They may second guess him on the league’s opening offer and subsequent tactics that were intended to weaken the union but only unified it.

Those are not insignificant things, and he’ll certainly be prepared with his response. But unless they were expecting — or were unrealistically promised — a thrashing of the PA, Bettman’s results should not be terribly disappointing to the Board. He got them their 50-50 split — the “industry standard” for salary cap leagues — and he was able to claw back some contracting rights that enabled cap circumvention. He did so while facing a newly strengthened union, led by a negotiator in Fehr who was at least his equal. And now it’s clear that, unlike 2004-05, neither his side nor the opposition had the will to torpedo the season in order to get its way.

The players don’t seem overjoyed with the outcome. “It‘s the best deal we could have gotten if we wanted to save the season,” the Penguins’ Brooks Orpik told Josh Yohe and Bob Rossi of The Pittsburgh Tribune Review. “If we wanted to go down another avenue, risk missing the season and going to litigation, maybe we could have gotten a better deal. That’s anyone’s guess. Guys wanted to play. If you look at the deal, the pension was the one tangible thing that improved compared to last time. Everything else was status quo or we gave back a little.”

So if the players aren’t thrilled, the owners are probably pleased. And if they are not, if they are equally bereft of joy, well, as they say, the sign of a successful negotiation is that both sides are unhappy.

In the immediate aftermath of the lockout, Bettman’s future became a topic for media types in Canada, who have always had difficult time with an American in charge of the NHL, especially this American who, unlike his predecessor John Ziegler, had no background in the game when he came to the job, and they expressed similar sentiments about Fehr during the lockout, saying that of all the negotiators, he was somehow less concerned about the league’s future as the only one who “had no skin in the game.” It was a laughable accusation to say the least, even metaphorically. Suddenly, Bettman — who had remained to them the outsider from the NBA even after 20 years — was a hockey guy, or at least the devil they know, deemed to have paid his dues, having been around longer than the more recent American outsider, this one from baseball. In fact, the ones with the most “skin in the game” are the players who, unlike everyone else at the table, actually get their skins cut, their bones broken, their ligaments torn and their heads rattled while playing the game.

Hours after the tentative deal had been reached, the crew at Sportsnet wondered about Bettman’s plight in this segment:

Nick Kypreos testified that Bettman caved in on some matters, like the salary cap for Year 2, at the last minute in order to salvage the season, and that for once he acted not like the owners’ commissioner but the commissioner of the whole game, saying, “Although many owners might have some questions for him, he put the game first.” Both Kypreos and John Shannon believed that the small market teams might howl because the cap moved and it will enable high revenue clubs to snag more free agents. It’s a specious argument, because in Year 3, the cap goes right down to no more than $60 million, Bettman’s original position, so the wealthy clubs will have to start unloading players. The one-year compromise helped seal the deal.

As a result, the Sportsnet guys wanted to portray Bettman as the man who saved the game (a position Don Cherry also took on Twitter, and that provoked outrageous laughter from some). Solving problems of your own creation does not make one a saint and this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen Bettman in that role. The Dead Puck Era was largely his doing, his lack of understanding of the game on the ice permitting a boring product to endure until the last lockout when, lo and behold, he sought to win fans back by allowing “The New Rules” that opened up the game. So saying the man who helped engineer the lockout was its hero in the end was, according to one fan on Twitter, like saying that the iceberg was the star of  the film Titanic.

Over on TSN, The Reporters panel of SI’s Michael Farber, The National Post‘s Bruce Arthur, The Toronto Sun‘s Steve Simmons and host Dave Hodge, each weighed in on Bettman’s future for Michael Landsburg on his On The Record show (video). All had arresting observations on whether the commissioner would keep his job.

Farber: “I spoke to somebody today who was part of the negotiations from the owners’ side and he thinks that Bettman is very solid. He characterized it as ‘whining’ from a couple of places, but there is no move to oust Bettman.”

Arthur: “Here’s the thing when you look at winners and losers in this lockout. It’s what did you expect. I think NHL owners expected to have this settled in November. They could have had it settled by about Jan. 10, (he meant Dec. 10 — SH) and Bettman miscalculated and cost them an extra month and cost them a few more things. That being said, he has an enormous amount of power, his idol David Stern lasted 30 years on the job, he’s not quite 20 years in now, he’s going to want to hold on to power. The question is going to be whether owners are disappointed enough in this deal and his tenure to oust him. I’m not sure we’re there yet.”

Simmons: “You also have to understand who the owners are. The majority of them are people he recruited to those positions. He has a lot of people onside. The ones who are barking are not powerful enough.”

Hodge: “There was credible talk yesterday that it might not be a good idea for Gary Bettman to present the Stanley Cup. So I don’t think he’s as strong as ever if anyone thinks it’s not a good idea. And if you’ve got a job that doesn’t allow you to do your job because people hate you enough to not allow you to want to do it, I’m not sure how long you want to hang around and I’m not sure how long the people who are paying you want you to hang around as long as you might otherwise.”

If it’s up to Bettman, LeBrun thinks he won’t be going anywhere, saying on one of many post-lockout segments over TSN (video), “He wants to be around for the league’s centennial in 2017. That means a lot to him. Whether he’s around for the next CBA, I think that would surprise me. I think there will be new leadership on the NHL end in 10 years.”

We all have our opinions on whether Gary Bettman should stay or go, whether we like him or not or approve of the job he’s done or not. For me, his performance has always been a goulash of good and bad. His record in labor relations is awful, at least from a fans’ perspective, but if it hadn’t been Bettman growling at the union, it would have been someone else. Campbell is right: lockouts will define Bettman’s tenure more than anything and he’s earned that legacy at the behest of the owners, even if he has guided their decisions and helped form their strategies. He was hired to be a wartime consigliere and, from that sad perspective, he’s played the role as well as anyone could. If they want him to continue in it, he will. If they want to change their approach to labor relations and believe he can be effective in that capacity, he will give it his best.

Unless he over-promised and under-delivered, or there’s a seismic shift in the tectonic plates beneath the Board of Governors, Gary Bettman isn’t going anywhere.

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  • Published On Jan 08, 2013
  • 27 comments
    CuseWriter
    CuseWriter

    The lockout was never all Bettman's fault. He essentially did what the owners asked him to do. True, he'll be saddled with having three work stoppages under his belt, but overall, he hasn't been as bad as hockey purists make him out to be. As for people saying that someone from the players' side should be a commissioner: NEVER going to happen. Not as long as the owners decide who is commissioner. And people saying he needs to look at it more as a game than a business....it IS a business. Which is why Bettman has been called upon to do the owners' dirty work. Bettman does need to soften up a little and maybe have some forums with the fans to really hear what they want. And will people please stop asking for the league to move franchises out of the South. If the NHL wants to get back into the American spotlight, it needs teams in areas outside of traditional hockey hotbeds. I love the Original Six and  love the support a lot of northern and Canadian teams give the game and league. But we need spots like Nashville, Dallas and Raleigh to spread the game. Also, the new Jets only left Atlanta because the old Atlanta Spirit group decided they didn't want to be in the hockey biz anymore. Atlanta could have worked had they kept some of the talent they had. (See Hossa, Kane, Kovalchuk, etc.)

    HardySegall
    HardySegall

    I'm sure someone has mentioned, though I don't want to sift through the comments...The subscriber numbers of NHL Center Ice should be easy to get from last year.  The NHL should either pay them %100 for the half season of service or supplement subscribers something in the 75% range.  Center Ice wants people to watch and pay and right now, they should work together to coddle the fans back to the sport.

    evilwraith
    evilwraith

    Bettman has done really well building the NHL brand...and then killing it just as effectively. For the first time in forever, I followed a team through the entire way-too-long playoffs. Watching the Kings was highly entertaining and built up interest to watch more...and then the owners decided they hate money.

     

    It isn't all Bettman's fault but he has to shoulder a lot of the blame. He's supposed to be the arbitrator between owners and players and he has failed miserably on 3 separate occasions. He's gotta go.

    heatdreamer
    heatdreamer

    Gary Bettman, did his job, which is to save the owners Money, 3 Billion (increasing the owner's share up to 50%) over the next 10 years, in this contract.

    Fire Bettman for reducing the players share from 73% to 50%. Than the owners are bigger fools. Personally my belief is Fehr and Bettman will ride off into the sunset in the 3 years. 

    Stern was despised after the NBA lockout, but the NBA has recovered, and so will the NHL.

     

     

    JackBriss
    JackBriss

    Bettman is responsible to the fans. HE did NOTHING for the fans, He has had 3 stoppages. He must go. When money comes before the people who supply it, then this must be stopped. Without us fans there is no Hockey.  When a coach fails to bring a team into the playoffs he gets fired, same with Bettman, he should go.

    gozurman
    gozurman

    Again I love it that all are bashing Bettman as if he was the sole reason for the lockout.  Remember that if the league did not jump first, the players would have gone on strike.  Remember who the Union head is. Fehr has a long history for labor unrest with the MLB.  The only difference is with the MLB the owners have no guts to stand against someone like Fehr and he gets his way. Many terrible contracts signed in baseball.  Fehr is only a mouthpiece for the owners. He says and does what the owners want him to do.  The lockout/strike would not have lasted any shorter had the offer Bettman presented to Fehr 12/28 been presented in October. Fehr would have scoffed at it and that would have been the starting point not the ending one. Remember the moderate owners had this about wrapped up in early December then Fehr re-entered the picture and blew the negotiations up. Blame Bettman all you want as it is easy to affix blame to just 1 guy but it is Fehr and the hard line owners who caused the stoppage and not Bettman. 

    cakasabian
    cakasabian

    I wouldn't be at my job for long if I required unlimited time to complete a project.  A commissioner should be on good enough terms with the league's owners AND it's players to negotiate a new CBA between June and September, and not have to use the season as hostage.  Bettman might well be a good lawyer, but he's plainly not as a commissioner. 

    Mark A
    Mark A

    Bettman has more to answer for than work stoppages.

     

    The reason they need so many stoppages and need so much in concessions from the union is because of the wide disparity of revenue, and he helped create that by attempting to grow the game in non-traditional markets.

     

    But the analysts are right.  Who among the owners wants rid of him? For the rich owners, he got them expansion fees and has protected them from having to share too much revenue with the failing teams that paid them.   With the weak teams there are owners he parachuted in and gave sweetheart deals to.  

     

    As much as his tenure has damaged the game, the people among ownership or potential ownership who have cause to dislike him are the ones that already went broke and sold, or the ones who never got the fair opportunity to buy.

     

    The real end for Bettman will come when teams realize that the poor franchises still can't compete, are still paralyzed by the salary floor, that rich franchises are still finding little loopholes to overpay, that the union will give no more back, and that they are going to have to abandon some markets where hockey can't sell, and share revenue far more equally amongst the rest.

    craig.w.bryant
    craig.w.bryant

    If the owners do decide to jettison Bettman they will prove that they fail to see the real culprits of the fiasco that the NHL has turned into: themselves. The owners were the ones who offered/approved of the insane cap-circumventing contracts that they then railed against. If you don't want players signing contracts aimed at circumventing the cap, don't offer them, it's as simple as that. Players can only sign contracts that are put in front of them. I understand that for competitive balance and parity a salary cap is necessary to prevent big-market teams from pricing small market teams out of being competitive, but these 15-year contracts are purely a creation of the owners trying to circumvent their own rules. The NHL needs to look very closely at its operations and consider trimming some fat. There are teams in traditional (and even some non-traditional) hockey locales that will come out of all of this as strong as ever with huge fan-bases still intact, but there are some teams in completely illogical locations (like Arizona and Columbus, Ohio) that were struggling before this and I can't see them emerging as value added to the league. Folks hate to hear the word contraction, but it needs to become a part of the NHL lexicon going forward.

    Rickapolis
    Rickapolis

    If Gary Bettman isn't fired then no one should be. He destroys the very thing he is the steward of.

    gozurman
    gozurman

    Why is this all Bettman's fault? Fehr has a history with messing things up with his ego in MLB.  Don't you think he had a little to do with the length of the lockout?  If it was not a lockout the Union would have been on strike. Makes no difference who initiated the stoppage, it would have happened.  If you think Fehr & the union would have accepted this deal over the summer or in October, you are sorely mistaken. Would have still taken this long. Fehr would not have caved so easily. Never has.

     

     

    StewGriffen
    StewGriffen

    There are some major flaws in the writer's reasoning here. First and foremost, if he thinks Bettman is more disliked than Fehr, he clearly has not been paying attention to what's being said on Twitter and TSN. The fans by a margin of probably 3 to 1 (or greater) where more angry with the players and Fehr. Of all the lockouts and strikes I can remember in any sport I can't remember a time when more people favored the owners like thus. Secondly, hockey fans are smart. I think owners would look like fools for firing the guy that was executing their strategy. Did they believe in this lockout or not? If they throw Bettman to the wolves simply for a PR move, they would look like they were clueless and had no idea what Bettman was up to, which in turn makes them look even more foolish. Most fans are smart enough anyway to know he was acting as instructed by hard line owners. 

     

    Rick in Huahin!
    Rick in Huahin!

    Keep in mind, the NHL/Owners called the lockout! They are the ones that suspended the season, NOT the NHLPA!

    Did Bettman do their bidding or was it his call? Either way, again its the Owners in all this!

    All commissioners in most major sports seem to be owners, former owners, or lawyers!!!!!!

    Why never a Commissioner from the playing side????

    Might be a different look for the sport involved!!!!

    iclasticons
    iclasticons

    How could Bettman NOT be in trouble? No argument is ever attributable entirely to one side but it seems to me than in 3 work stoppages Bettman has brought all the resolution skills of an insensate warthog to bear. If the NHL truly wants to hang on, in hopes of regaining market share over the next 20 years, it absolutley must have new leadership and I don't mean jettisoning only Bettman. Any of his lieutenants who did not overtly push for middle ground should also be canned. Heck, Bill Murray could do the job better. At least he loves sports.

    RichieRich
    RichieRich

    I'm sorry but I don't understand how anyone can think this guy should stay and I say that for several reasons. First of all, and this is superficial (the least of my reasons), well the guy has the personality of a cheese grater and even after all these years I still don't think he really gets or cares much about hockey which from the purely business side may be o.k. but the NHL needs someone who really cares about the game, lives it and breathes it. Every year like a ground hog he peaks his head out to present the Stanley Cup and when he sache's onto the red carpet the first thing people think is "this guy is the commissioner of the NHL?". I've heard it a thousand times every year it's the same. You can just tell as he uncomfortably delivers the cup to the winning team. 

     

    I understand that hockey is a business but it's not the NBA and Bettman continues to treat the league like it is and it has caused nothing but problems. While expansion is often a sign of strength it is not something to be done just for the sake of doing it. You need to have a demand for it to begin with that is great enough to justify the investment in an NHL franchise but the NHL has tried to force it. At first many like myself thought it was really great because we thought it was for the right reasons but it has turned the league into the "haves and have nots". It's watered down the talent pool and several franchises are barely hanging on only to be supported by those that are doing well but would be doing a lot better if they didn't have to give money to the lesser teams. It's like the Obama league with the biggest earners redistributing profits to teams that lost money, it's unsustainable and everyone knows it except of course for the commissioner who clings to it because expansion was his baby and to concede it's not working is too big an ego blow to the little guy.

     

    Finally, the lockouts...One thing is obvious after watching all of them under his reign as commissioner and it's just how out of touch the guy is. He puts his finger in the faces of fans on camera and like petulant child talks of revenue neutrality or this or that but many of the problems the NHL has faced are a direct result of Bettman's own policies (i.e. over-expansion of the league: revenue sharing, ever changing rules, pitting franchises against each other (haves and have nots)) his inability to admit what works and what doesn't has resulted in works stoppages every time as he bitterly clings to his expansion agenda when everyone knows several teams are in trouble and will be lucky to survive. Especially with the economic conditions currently in the U.S.. You couple that with the fallout from the fans after this latest work stoppage fiasco. It's time for a change, for someone to come in who can leave his ego at the door and more importantly loves the game of hockey. Of course he must understand the business side of the game but not a one dimensional type like Bettman. The guy has infested the league with HIS owners to ensure his continued stint as commissioner. That's not a great commissioner, it's someone bitterly clinging to power using owners like pawns to keep his name on the office door. For further evidence just look at last years re-alignment that never happened because it lacked the leadership to get it done and is still up in the air to this day. It's time for new league leadership with someone that commands respect for his love of hockey (like Scotty Bowman, not saying he's the guy, just an example of the type), a strong understanding of the game and what works and what doesn't, and of course a strong business acumen as well. It sounds like a tall order, it is, but it's what the league needs and is strongly lacking with the current commissioner. It's my take but I know enough to know that I speak for many as I hear these very things from just about every fan. This league is facing many challenges and many of them were created by Gary Bettman and his ego. That's why it is time for him to go...

    Mark A
    Mark A

     @gozurman Bettman is not the sole reason.

     

    He is however the FACE of 3 labour stoppages. Fehr wasn't there for the last 2.  Half the owners have changed, hard line and otherwise.

     

    And no, the players would not have gone on strike.   The side of negotiations that acts is the one that wants concessions.  The players would very happily have extended the previous deal.    Fehr is not the one who started negotations by asking to cut 25% of player compensation.

     

    Did he drag it? Sure. Both sides did. Both sides looked at what was on offer in December and thought they could do better. Both were essentially wrong.

     

     

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

     @Mark A Just to correct a very common misconception about Bettman's tenrue. Expansion to non-traditional markets was not his idea. It was something that the NHL Board of Governors began planning in the late 1980s, long before Bettman was in the picture. They developed a plan that began with San Jose, Tampa Bay, Florida and Anaheim all being approved as franchises before Bettman took office. The teams that joined the NHL afterward in non-traditional markets all did so because Bettman executed the plan that the owners wanted executed. He certainly played a major role in relocating the North Stars to Dallas and the Jets to Phoenix, but to put the move to the Sunbelt on him is not historically accurate.

    Charlie5
    Charlie5

     @craig.w.bryant ... you mean the Columbus, Ohio that is the fifteenth-largest metro area in the country? The Columbus, Ohio who - having witnessed one winning season in eleven years of NHL hockey - is STILL drawing 15K a night? That Columbus, Ohio?

     

    cakasabian
    cakasabian

     @gozurman

     It's Bettman's fault because he's the COMMISSIONER.  Not lawyer for the owners, he's the commissioner who SHOULD be representing the sport, not just the owners.  It's incredible to me how he can retain that job when he's clearly only concerned with what the owners want. 

    RickDesper
    RickDesper

     @gozurman Why on Earth do you think the players would have gone on strike?  The players were fine with the previous bargaining agreement.  The owners were the ones who wanted to force the players to make concessions.  And ultimately they did.  

    Your argument doesn't make any sense.  

    Mark A
    Mark A

     @gozurman That's not really true at all.   It is true that one way or another hockey would not be played without a CBA.

     

    But Fehr would have immediately signed on on just extending the existing one had the owners been amenable.  Its not like he had his hand out. The owners were determined to wring major concessions from the players (for the second time in a decade).

     

    It is the owners who wanted something extra. It is the owners who started by taking a ridiculous hard line.

     

    You can blame Fehr if you want, but no union boss worth a damn would have resolved this one without a lockout.  The only thing the players could realistically have done to get this all resolved sooner would have been file for de-certification right at the start of the lockout and essentially force a deal.  And who knows how that would have turned out once all the lawsuits got settled.

     

    Mark A
    Mark A

     @StewGriffen Can you cite where you are getting those stats from?  Fehr certainly isn't popular (but he also was never planning to stay long anyway),  but it is without question that Bettman was hated before during and after this, and even the fans angry at the players won't be cheering him any time soon.

    JustinKosta
    JustinKosta

     @Mark A  @gozurman  

     

    Of course they would of continued.  Who wouldnt with at 57%-43% split in favor of the players.  That is crazy.  The owners front all the money to grow the sport, they should not be getting less than half the revenue....the players greed is a major piece of this as well.  NHL is the 5th most popular sport in the US....behind NFL, MLB, NBA, and Nascar.  

    Mark A
    Mark A

     @Stu Hackel Maybe not his idea, but the cracks in the plan have appeared on his watch, and his response has been to double down.   With the exception of the move to Winnipeg, he has fought tooth and nail to get and keep teams in those markets, including recruit suspect owners with suspect financing.

     

    Yet strangely, he hasn't taken up the one thing that would REALLY help those markets be sustainable (broader revenue sharing).

     

     

     

    craig.w.bryant
    craig.w.bryant

    @Charlie5 @craig.w.bryant since you clearly are a Columbus homer here's some reality for you, your "15k a night" was really 14,600 or so, and was good for 27th out of 30 during the 2011-2012 season, not exactly convincing me that Columbus is this thriving hockey hotbed. If Columbus was such a great market don't you think the NFL, NBA and MLB would have brought franchises there?!? Sorry, the facts don't back up your assertion.

    Mark A
    Mark A

     @JustinKosta  @gozurman 

     

    You can call the split crazy but it is the one owners had previously agreed to, the one that Bettman negotiated. If that was a terrible number, it INCREASES the reasons to fire Bettman, not decreases.

     

    And the 57% isn't a guaranteed share, it is the number they cap it at.   In other words, it is the number the owners are allowed to ARTIFICIALLY RESTRAIN themselves from spending more than, because they WANT to spend even more to get the players they want.

     

    It is also a league-wide number, but the real main problem is division of revenues.   The problem isn't that the league was spending 57% of revenues.  It is that the leafs were spending maybe 20% of their revenues (just spitballing, too lazy to look up the actuals), and teams like Florida and Phoenix were spending more than 100% of theirs.   Thats why you have teams looking to spend more while the league as a whole cries poor.

     

    The real difference between baseball/football and hockey isn't in what % the players get, it is that those leagues are better at sharing revenue with their poorer franchises.   The lockout and CBA were an excuse to keep the weak sisters afloat without the high rollers having to share more with them.

    Charlie5
    Charlie5

     @craig.w.bryant  @Charlie5

     ... and here's some reality for you - put Columbus' on-ice performance over their eleven seasons in 25 other current markets and those markets wouldn't be drawing 15K a night.