The tip-off

By Kevin Rothbauer

Dear Mr. Bettman,

I realize you can’t be blamed completely for the top league in the greatest sport in the world has degenerating into a complete mess, but you should probably take the brunt.

About 10 years ago, hockey was near perfect. Something screwy happened around the time you took over. Exactly when the NHL went bad is tough to pinpoint. Was it when the balance of power shifted south of the Mason-Dixon line? Was it when a guy with the skills of a Terry Carkner first signed for $1 million? Was it when Mats Sundin became the first European player drafted first overall?

Probably it was when the rules changed. Someone decided too many goals were being scored. Each team scored about three goals a game. Gee, that’s like arena football or basketball. It was decided that goalies needed more protection. For 80 years, two defencemen did a fine job, but new rules were introduced, starring the foot-in-the-crease rule. Alongside video replay (itself not a bad idea), that rule harmed the sport and scarred me.

Every time a goal is scored, I assume it will be called back. I didn’t see a game in 1998/99 in which every goal was allowed.

With scoring down, you decided that wasn’t good, so you added more rules to make scoring go up. Why not go back to the way it was before you screwed things up?

In case you’re as dumb as you look, the goal Brett Hull scored wasn’t really a goal. In any other game, that goal would have been called back. Sure, it’s hard to tell 20 guys that they didn’t win, and your spin doctor (a.k.a. the Director of Officiating) did a nice job of making excuses, but really now.

So what do you do? No more video replay. That’s not a solution. Get rid of the rule that causes the problem. By eliminating video replay, you’re just causing more unresolved disputes and bitter coaches.

And four-on-four overtime is a terrible idea. You should be ashamed of yourself for treating the players of the American Hockey League as your personal lab rats.

Why not be like baseball’s Bud Selig or basketball’s David Stern and try improving hockey? The best way to do that would be by resigning.

The owner of the Orlando Magic is responsible for one of my favourite quotes. "I gave Gary Bettman a puck and he spent an hour trying to open it."

That’s a pretty fitting way to end my letter. Thank you for your time.

Kevin Rothbauer
Sports Editor, The Gauntlet

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