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Gary and I

Posted by Ark_Razor on October 12, 2017 at 3:20 AM

Oct 11, 2017 turned out to be a pretty good day for me professionally and hockey-wise (even though LAK lost in OT).


I sold all of my LAK games this season except 9 of them. (I travel a lot, and am getting on a plane in about 14 hrs to be gone for pretty much the rest of the month). However, I did keep the CAL game on this day b/c it is one of the few early dates in the season I could make.


Well, the first hockey bonus was this: Jaromir Jagr signed with the Flames last week; and 10/11 was his 2017-18 debut!


The game was a highly entertaining affair. Jagr played on the 3rd line and got some PP time.


(Numerous PP's for both teams, pretty nasty game as there is some definite bad blood from last year's shot by Tkachuk on DD. That happened twice tonight. Teams retaliated back and forth on this. Personally, I think this has gotten inside the Kings, not necessarily DD's, head. Yo, DD, either tell the team to back down in your locker room or have someone end Tkachuk's season the next time you play. Pretty obvious to me that Tkachuk is intending to injure DD. Where is Mat Cooke when you need him, lol.)


Anyway, JJ had a couple of real good scoring chances right in his shop in front of the net. He's slowed down obviously, but he still has the shooting and puck handling skills, and is still hard to knock off of the puck- although not as hard as 5 yrs ago. The thing I noticed the most though was that he feel 4x trying to make sharp cuts on the ice. Is this the sign of skill levels diminishing or ice rust? Time will tell.


However, the high point of the day occurred when I got an email from Kings season seat rep about 10AM. The purpose?

Gary Bettman was going to be in town, and would I like to be part of a group of season seat holders to meet with him, hear him answer Q's and maybe we get to ask a Q ourselves?

I knew that these opportunities don't come along very often, if at all. I figured the turnout would be small for several reasons.


1. It was short notice.

2. It was in the late afternoon, so most season ticket members invited would not be able to make it on short notice.

3. It was not in a large venue, it was one of 14 movie theatres in LA Live (the premier screening section of the theatre).


Anyway, I accepted and submitted my Q on the form.


I showed up, and sure enough, there probably only 25 season seat holders present. I sat in the front row about 8 feet from Mr. Bettman the entire time.


So, what went down?


Well, the big takeaway I want you all to understand is that Mr. Bettman is nowhere near the personna that is made out in the media. I can understand why he is Commish, and we are very fortunate to have him as Commish.


Why did I come to this conclusion?


1. He came in black velcro sneakers as part of his suit. Someone commented on this. He had a nice chuckle and said something to the effect "Hey, this is Southern California so you go with the flow. Although when you get to be my age, the shoes are dictated by comfort for me whether I'm in NY or here."


2. He said we could call him Gary, not Mr. Bettman b/c we are all serious fans of the game.


3. He was gracious, relaxed, engaging, and spoke to the point.


4. He had not seen ANY of the Q's beforehand. He had no idea what Q's he was going to be asked. Furthermore, he opened it up to Q&A after the selected (by the Kings) submitted Q's had been answered.


I would like to remind people what Mr. Bettman once a week did a radio segment where he answered these unscreened Q's. What other Commish does that?


What did he say of substance?


(NOTE: These are my recollections or remembrances of what he said. I took no notes out of respect of the forum.)


A. VGK: He was at the game last night, and said it was truly a special time. One of the things he said that is unique about hockey is the community bond that can occur between the team and the community. He said that the tragedy presented a very unique opportunity for that to occur in VGK as the club had not even played a game yet. Players were very visible after the tragedy- in hospitals, meeting first responders etc. It accelerated the bonding process.


Furthermore, the game last night helped Las Vegas start the healing process in a tangible way.


B. Regarding standing for the anthem: He said that we are fortunate as a sport b/c our players are primarily concerned about the game and understand the importance of providing an enjoyable fan experience. (He did not mention JT Brown's fist or the Canadian Devante Smith-Pelly possibly protesting.) 


For the first time, Canadians are not the majority of the players in the league. They are roughly 48%. Other countries (20 of them) make up about 25%, and Americans make up the rest (highest % of Americans ever). So, everybody may have their own "national" issue. He said the league is supportive of players being involved politically and socially provided it is outside of the game experience. Fans come to see a game, not politics or social statements.



He expected the good behavior to continue. (My translation: We will address this clearly if this is a problem b/c we are not going to allow the fan experience to be disrupted.)


C. Security: The League is doing fine with their procedures. He acknowledged that the new factor is that the actions can occur outside of the arena, and they are thus very dependent on local law enforcement.


D. Olympics: The League (specifically the owners) did not want to shut down the league for 3 weeks again to play games in far away time zones. He felt that the 5 previous Olympics really had not done much to grow the fan base, and with the IOC offering nothing, there was no reason to do it in 2018.

He did acknowledge that 2022 could be different as China has issued a mandate that 300 million (not a typo) will be participating in winter sports by the time of their Olympics. The NHL has said they will help hockey development in China.

He also brought up the non-level impact to teams. Some teams send 10 players. Some teams send 1 or 2. The teams are not uniformly impacted. He also mentioned the injury factor.

I think he got a some general agreement in the room on this. I specifically stated I was appreciative that they did not interrupt the season. He appreciated that.


(Funny aside: When he was in Tampa annoucing the All-Star Game for 2018, the first Q he got from the press was "Will you reschedule the game for next year if you participate in the Olympics?" The league had already announced they were not going!)


E. Current CBA: He felt this was the greatest accomplishment of the league during his tenure (although he did not take credit for it, someone asked him what he felt his greatest accomplishment was).


The reason was that it gave every team the ability to compete.


No mention was made about possible work stoppage at the end of the next season in 2019.


F. Expansion: Geography is a factor, but not the factor. The league wants strong owners and strong franchises and they didn't believe in doing this just for the sake of symmetry or geographical balance.


He said that while the league is interested in growing the game into new markets domestically and internationally, the primary concern should be the health of the existing franchises b/c that's where the source of everything else comes from.


G. Broadcast Rights: Basically, Rogers/TSN has full control over content in Canada while NBC/SN has the same in the U.S. He said this year will mark the first year that every single playoff game will be on national TV in the U.S.

(He did not mention, nor was he asked about the "blackout" provision on NHL.tv.)


H. OT/Shootout: The League was happy with the change from 4 on 4 to 3 on 3 format. 65% of the games now being decided w/o a shootout, up from the old 40-45%. The SO will remain as the fans stand for it. However, it will NOT be part of the playoffs.


Overall, I got a good sense that the primary concern is making sure that the paying customers (as opposed to the non-paying fans) are content.



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7 Comments

Reply vapor5
6:43 AM on October 12, 2017 
Wow, Canadiens are not the majority of players.
Reply Radatz
12:44 PM on October 12, 2017 
Good of him to do this. My takes:

A. The tragedy made it simple to field Vegas questions. If they win it all this year (unlikely, I know) like the Saints after Katrina, Koolaid abstainers will begin to wonder though.

B. Soft pedaled compared to the ideal "NO", but still a reasonable answer. ESPN won't like it. That scores points.

C. Good answer. I miss the good old days when the Bruins marched into the stands to get the NY punks, but those days are hermetically sealed now.

D. This will get panned but he's right. What kind of a Craig/Eruzione moment would we have had with NHL players anyway?

E. No opinion.

F. believe it when I see it. Vegas? Hockey?

G. I assume 'national' means 'broadcast'? Good. Now, what to do about the other 80 games? I know what to do but nobody listens to me :)

H. Gets closer every year to something like the NBA playing HORSE to decide a game. Bring back the regular season tie, save the players health and fans' time, and knock off the nonsense. If it were a great idea they'd do it in the playoffs too.

Overall: Great thing to tell season ticket holders, but I think media revenue is the ultimate goal.
Reply vapor5
6:53 AM on October 13, 2017 
"Gets closer every year to something like the NBA playing HORSE to decide a game" Hey rad sad LOL at your comment.
Reply the immortal scurds
9:07 AM on October 14, 2017 
vapor5 says...
Wow, Canadiens are not the majority of players.


believe it or not, hockey is sagging in canada. muslims sikhs hindus and buddhists arent big on skating, and those of us being taxed to support thousands of immigrants attending med school cant afford expensive minor hockey. this should be a real and very serious concern of bettmans, but its one that cant be spoken of aloud
Reply the immortal scurds
9:12 AM on October 14, 2017 
on issue B: probly smart not to throwdown a gauntlet and draw a line in the sand, because the tuth is, most of the playes r white. but the national issues cross the border way more than he thinks. the hatred for trump and the usa in general is growing fast in canada. all the muslims and liberal snoflakes here will have an impact, and the demands for anthem disrespect will continue to gro alongside islam here.
Reply the immortal scurds
9:13 AM on October 14, 2017 
glad to hear he isnt planning expansion soon. looong season and many many teams. no need so stand pat for awhile.
Reply the immortal scurds
9:16 AM on October 14, 2017 
i would have asked him about replay. i dont like it in hockey for anything other than goals. a missed offside or close call is part of the game and this game needs tempo and flo. its not the nfl. let the officials call the game and live with the results