Is Gary Bettman the lockout happy commissioner? The easy answer seems to be yes. I fact, all answers point to yes. I'm not a fan of Bettman. It might not be his fault but every time he speaks and tries to make his point, it seems as if he's smirking. He looks dishonest. It's my perception and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Bettman has been the commissioner during 2 NHL lockouts (1994-95 and 2004-05) and a 3rd lockout seems inevitable. With a commissioner guiding the league through so many lockouts, it sure seems as if it's the way he negotiates. It seems like he wants to strong arm the players.
The NHL was the first league that cancelled an entire season (2004-05). So Bettman doesn't seem to be concerned about going through work stoppages. It's sad but as I mentioned above, it seems to be Bettman's style of negotiation.
The players have far more to lose in my opinion. The owners can weather the storm of a lockout, especially if it's not the entire 2012-13 season. Players on the other hand would lose a significant portion of their salaries and livelihoods. While some players probably save well, my guess is that many hockey players are as big of spenders as they are earners
Is it really Bettman calling the shots or are the owners calling the shots? I believe that it's a combination of both. Bettman is a smart guy and shrewed businessman. I believe that the owners look to Bettman for direction and how the league's finances are doing.
Once the owners have that information, they probably direct Bettman on a course of action to be taken. If Bettman were to provide a convincing argument for the owners to stay the course and take a hard-line approach to the negotiations, they would probably listen to him.
I believe that Bettman has crunched the numbers and believes that the NHL will not suffer losses from the fan base and that the NHL would continue the growth seen from the 2011-12 season, once a lockout was lifted. This is were I think that Gary "the gambler" Bettman is taking a big risk.
If marginal fans, who were starting to tune into the NHL last year, were left without the choice of hockey, they might be lost forever. That type of gamble would seem silly. Is Bettman really that silly? I think he is.
Bettmna has seen the league grow since the last lockout and I believe he has tunnel vision, seeing the league from only one perspective. I don't believe that gamble is worth it.
Is Bettman lockout happy. I don't know if happy is the right word. Maybe lockout addicted is more appropriate. Like an addict, that lockout drug might not only destroy everything around him but destroy the man's tenure as well.