Deconstructing Gary Bettman's Latest Olympics Spin Job

The NHL commissioner also spewed nonsense on expansion, the World Cup, and the inevitable lockout that's coming.
November 14, 2017, 4:38pm
Photo by David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

If Gary Bettman is talking, he's not necessarily lying, but he's probably spinning, deflecting, withholding or all three. Bettman was talking in Toronto on Monday at something called a PrimeTime Sports Management Conference, which is funny, because the commissioner of a league that puts the Buffalo Sabres in prime time 30 nights a year should not be at any conference involving prime time.

During a 30-minute interview with an employee of a broadcast rights holder, Bettman was talking, so you know what he was really doing. If you don't enjoy listening to a millionaire offer willful ignorance and half-truths to batting practice questions that lack any real follow-ups, perhaps you'll enjoy this interpretation of what Bettman had to say. How much dodging was there? Was anything he said true?


Let's look at the Gary Bettman Translator and learn together.

On the Olympics

What Bettman said: "If they don't value our participation, why are we disrupting our season?"

The truth: You are disrupting your season because it's the longest (feeling) regular season in sports and everyone needs a break from it in February. They don't value your participation because you need them more than they need you. Even Bruce Willis was willing to admit that to Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard with a Vengeance for the benefit of New York, yet you couldn't do the same here for fans?

What Bettman meant: "The IOC didn't give the NHL owners enough money."

What Bettman said: "This came down to exposure and being able to promote the fact that we're there. Sidney Crosby's goal in Vancouver—we're not allowed to use that footage. Think about that."

The truth: I don’t even know what this means. Promote to who? NBC promotes the hell out of the Olympics. And if you simply go every four years, everyone just knows. Do you think people don't know about the Crosby goal? Or that he's in the NHL? Do you think there's anyone in 2018 that flips on the gold medal game between Sweden and Canada and thinks, "Wait, why didn't someone tell me NHL players are at this thing?" And boo fucking hoo, you can't use eight-year-old video of a goal we all saw 1,000 times. Isn't the point that we all saw it? A lot?

What Bettman meant: "The IOC didn't give the NHL owners enough money."


What Bettman said: "Why are we beating a dead horse on this?"

The truth: Because this decision is so monumentally shortsighted and stupid that you are going to be asked about it every time you are in public.

What Bettman meant: "Why don't people understand the NHL owners didn't get enough money from the IOC?"

On the World Cup, and why the NHL likes it

What Bettman said: "It's the element of control. It's our event. As it relates to our players playing, and the conditions and the scheduling and the promotion, those are all things that are within our control."

The truth: It puts more money in the pockets of the NHL owners.

What Bettman meant: "It puts more money in the pockets of the NHL owners."

On expansion

What Bettman said: "Under the right circumstances, maybe we'll consider another expansion. But it's not our manifest destiny as we sit here today. … You don't expand just to be symmetrical."

The truth: In January 2015, Bill Daly said: "We have 14 teams in the Western Conference, 16 teams in the East. That's an imbalance that we'll want to remedy." You're out of your mind if you think the NHL wouldn't have 32 teams right now if Seattle could have gotten its shit together a couple years ago. The "right circumstances" here are if someone cuts the NHL a check for $500 million and has access to an arena with a few working toilets.

What Bettman meant: "We need to be sure we can put more money in the pockets of the NHL owners."

On the potential of another lockout

What Bettman said: "I don't like work stoppages. … I'm always quizzical of why a work stoppage gets laid at management. … I hate work stoppages. … But it will be interesting to see [which side] reopens [the CBA] and who doesn't."

The truth: We are, without a doubt, getting another lockout when either owners or players opt out in September 2019. Bettman loves lockouts the way Tom Wilson loves hitting unsuspecting players illegally.

What Bettman meant: "We are definitely creating a new CBA via a lockout so we can put more money in the pockets of the NHL owners."