Jeremy Jacobs and company convened a presser yesterday to announce the NHL Board of Governors had ratified the tentative CBA agreement, unsurprisingly (though what a troll move that would have been if they hadn’t). Though Sea Bass issued a short statement not long after a deal was reached, many Bruins fans were eager to hear from the owner himself – the man who, at often times, single-handedly perpetuated the lockout. From his statement:
“This great game has been gone for far too long, and for that we are truly sorry. The Board today also expressed its appreciation for the professionalism and commitment, to our clubs and to the sport, that Commissioner Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Daly displayed throughout this difficult period.”
If you were indeed “truly sorry,” why allow the lockout to persist for 113 days? Let’s remember, the great game was only “gone for far too long” because you and the rest of the owners sought to expand your share of hockey-related revenue from 43 percent to 50? And if this lockout was conducted with such “professionalism and commitment,” why were negotiations abandoned and restarted again and again, with players claiming they were “ashamed to play in the NHL” along the way?
“Gary, Bill and their staff worked tirelessly from long before the lockout began in an effort to reach a constructive conclusion. Gary and Bill have the complete and unconditional support of the Board – and our gratitude.”
After twenty years of lockouts, ill-fated Southern expansions, and blown television contract opportunities, is Gary Bettman really someone deserving of anyone’s gratitude (besides David Stern’s, according some conspiracy theories)? Ken Campbell of The Hockey News called for Bettman to step down as a way to meaningfully apologize to the fans and show it is ready to “turn the page” on a the league’s mismanaged past. If Gary and Bill have the complete and unconditional support of the Board of Governors, don’t expect that in the near future.
“Together our collective future is extremely bright. Our only interest now is to look ahead and to focus on what this great game can provide to the best sports fans in the world.”
Is it bright for the small business owners and arena employees who relied on the game for an income? Is it bright for the NBC Sports Network, whose livelihood since its inception depended on the NHL? Regardless, the league should have focused on “what this great game can provide to the best sports fans in the world” a long, long time ago.
Admittedly, JJ was damned if did make an apology, damned if he didn’t. As teams around the league begin to make amends with their fans, we will wait anxiously to see what the Bruins’ ownership will do. But we won’t be holding our breath.
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