Here is the four-minute clip from tonight's episode of Unguarded with Gary Bettman. I'll comment below, but I have to say that the rapport between Miss Nichols and Mr. Bettman seems to be pretty good!
The unintended joke about Mr. Bettman's age gives you a perspective on how long Mr. Bettman may stick around for based on his tenure. He's 62 and he's been on the job for a while. It might be a long way off still, but maybe Gary is looking to wind down his role with the NHL if and/or when the NHL expands to 32 teams. It may not happen, but it's something to keep in the back of one's mind, though.
His comments on gambling in professional sports are interesting, but very middle-of-the-road. He's very astute when it comes to watching the spread as fantasy owners and bettors watch these numbers very closely, but I'm not sure that most fans are gamblers. That being said, I think he's right to be careful, especially when it comes to a new franchise possibly landing in Las Vegas. I'll have a guest contributor piece on that tomorrow.
Mr. Bettman's comments on domestic violence are interesting with respect to Slava Voynov's situation. The fact that the NHL claims to have been doing counseling on this front for more than a decade was news to me. I'm not saying that there has been a domestic violence issue in the NHL for more than a decade, but there have been cases in the past that haunted a few players. Perhaps the NHL recognized this as a potential problem and nipped it in the bud before things got worse?
The chatter about the Olympics is the same old rhetoric. Let's be honest: the fans love the Olympic men's hockey competition with the NHL players participating. I know that Mr. Bettman says that they aren't focused on the Olympics right now, but they have to know that the fans want it. As for the World Cup of Hockey, I'm glad they're looking at this, but we've seen some players burn out after the Olympics. Holding a World Cup before the season starts might also contribute to some burn out as the season progresses. It's still an interesting idea, though.
Personally, this was a good show from the Commissioner as he spoke about some topics that the NHL is currently facing, and came away as being competent and fair in his comments. Miss Nichols' questions weren't of the Ron MacLean style where he hits the Commissioner with some tough questions, but the questions she asked were relevant to recent and future events and were of the investigative journalism nature for which Unguarded is being known.
Overall, this was a good, albeit brief, showing for the Commissioner on US TV, and I'm happy he came off as being in touch with his league, the players, the owners, and the fans. Hockey has never been stronger, as Mr. Bettman said, and he's showing that to a country that is still buying into his product.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!