Sunday, 8 March 2009

Bettman On The Hour

The man to the left is George Stroumboulopoulos. George, as I'll call him so I don't have to write out his full name, is a Canadian talk show host, hosting the primetime talk show on CBC called The Hour. He hasn't been a talk show host over his entire life, though. He working career started at a radio station in Kelowna, BC before he moved onto The Fan590 sports radio station, and then was a video jockey for the Canadian music video station, MuchMusic. However, since he began hosting The Hour, George has opened up and we've learned that he is a huge Montreal Canadiens fan, despite growing up in Milton, Ontario. Because of this, he interviews hockey icons on his show often.

One of these interviews came after the NHL All-Star Game when he had on NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Let me be clear here: we all have our opinion on Gary Bettman. Some blame him for the current state of the game, some think he's doing a great job, some want him out of the game. We're not here to debate that point.

What we are here to discuss is George's interview and Bettman's comments. Personally, I have a few comments which I will make below. Here's the interview with the Commish, compliments of The Hour.

First, I thought he handled George's relatively low risk questions quite well. Yeah, he was probably prepped beforehand, but I thought George did a good job in making the interview a very relaxed, laid-back interview.
  • Who knew that Gary Bettman was a New York Islanders fan? Or was a fan of the 1970s expansion teams? Bettman's non-committal answer on the topic of NHL expansion in the future is probably the best way to not get into any hot water.
  • Hartford Whalers news is awesome. Karmanos needs to realize that his current team is irrelevant. No one outside Carolina's "Golden Triangle" region cares about the Hurricanes. By the way, as of writing today, the NHL and the city of Hartford, Connecticut have reportedly worked out a deal to produce Hartford Whalers merchandise. This is phenomenal news, and I can't wait for the Whale to return, at least to my local sports store.
  • I appreciate Gary Bettman's view on Jim Balsillie's involvement in the NHL. I have always thought that Balsillie went about his business with the NHL in the wrong way, but to hear Gary Bettman say it only reinforces it.
  • Bettman's suspension of Sean Avery, while setting a precedent, seems to have worked out for both parties. Avery has kept his mouth shut, and the NHL seems to be willing to accept Avery on these terms.
  • Bettman knows his history. Fighting is down from the 1980s. Good on him for being in touch with history. I like that he's not willing to jump into any sort of major rule change without consulting the players and Board of Governors first.
I'll admit that George didn't ask any tough questions or put the Commish on the spot with his interview. However, he did get very decent answers from Mr. Bettman, and that's a start. SOme of the comments made by Mr. Bettman show that he is somewhat in tune with the NHL and how the game is played, and that's a huge step from where some may perceive him to be.

And since a lot of you stopped in and commented on the The Fifth Estate's Fighting In Hockey piece about Don Cherry, I'm going to post his interview as well. Look, here's my view on Donald S. Cherry: he's paid to stir the pot.

For Americans, you don't have a guy like this in sports broadcasting. He goes out and talks about "playing the right way" and "good old-time hockey", and he expresses the virtues of Canadian hockey players compared to the rest of the world. He played the game, he coached the game, he has watched the game for nearly 60 years. He is to hockey what Rush Limbaugh is to politics. He's not 100% right, and he's not 100% wrong, but he's 100% controversial and that is what he is paid to be. Does he believe in what he says? Yes. But it doesn't mean he doesn't regret some of the stuff he said, and he even admits this in the interview.

Here's Don Cherry on The Hour:

Great interviews! Just like Bono said after George Stroumboulopoulos interviewed him on MuchMusic, "George, I'm a fan".

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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