Gary Bettman Needs A Lesson From Roger Goodell

The NHL needs to take a hint from the NFL on how to build an audience.

For some reason the saying in popular culture is “there is no such thing as bad press” but it is only ever partially true.

Never completely true.

And often completely false.

On Mar. 19, the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers saw fisticuffs right at the opening face-off for the third time this season.

This time around, three separate fights broke out at what was officially listed as the three second mark of the first period.

This is not hockey. This is a joke. This is an atrocity. This is an embarrassment. This is bad press.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sits by and watches and does nothing, absolutely nothing while his sport is made into a mockery by a couple of teams and a couple of players.

Certainly a few of the players involved in the latest fights are legitimate hockey players. However, Devils forwards Cam Janssen and Eric Boulton have COMBINED for one point on the season. Janssen has a measly assist but the two of them have accounted for 185 penalty minutes. Neither player has played in over 50 of New Jersey’s 74 games this season.

Yet these are the types of names and types of stories that find themselves being aired and discussed on popular sports shows like ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption.

Like it or not, believe it or not, but there are fans out there that are turned away from the game of hockey because of this incessant fighting.  And yet Bettman stands by and does nothing as the majority of America hears only about these ridiculous Rangers-Devils brawls when Sidney Crosby’s return and the great playoff race should be front and center.

Unlike the title of my previous column on fighting suggests, I do not think fighting should be banned from the game. However, these staged fights that look more like WWE than the NHL, need to be 100 percent eliminated from the ice.

As a fan of the game,  I want that little five year old kid down the street to be allowed to watch hockey. But I guarantee you there are mothers out there who aren’t going to let their son or daughter witness this premeditated violence.

Parents can teach their kids that true hockey fights boil over from frustration and that adults playing hockey often times lose their tempers. But what are parents supposed to tell their kids about fights that occur before the game is even played?

Obviously NFL commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t very popular amongst football fans, but like him or not he at least has the game’s best interests at heart.

When there is something he believes isn’t appropriate, he takes action. He delivers change and does so promptly.

Bettman could do a great deal of good by following Goodell’s style and take a stand… Make a change… Improve the product.

Instead, by standing still, Bettman is allowing his league to lose out on a significant portion of fans for ridiculous fighting majors that accomplish absolutely nothing.


Andrew Bensch writes for TheFanManifesto. Follow him on twitter at @AndyBensch

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