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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wins lifetime award as he sends message to disgruntled fans

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It’s been 30 years since Gary Bettman became the commissioner of the NHL, and he’s been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for his service.

Bettman became the first ever commissioner at the age of 40, and even at the age of 70 he continues to reign in his post. Bettman’s not always been the most popular amongst fans, but the way he’s helped shape the league can’t be ignored.

The commissioner will be honoured in person at the Sports Business Awards on May 24 for his service, and has already started offering his thoughts on how he’d like to be remembered one day. However, it doesn’t look as though he’s too bothered what the opinion is.

“I want people to think of me, particularly my family and friends, as somebody who’s been a good person,” said Bettman. “The league is not about me. I have had the honour of being a part of this game in important ways, but other people will define my legacy.

“Some people will think I did a good job and some people will think I didn’t,” he concluded. In terms of finances, Bettman has done wonders for the league majorly boosting it’s revenue and commercial growth.

But that’s a reason why some fans have turned on him in the past, as they feel Bettman has done what’s in the best interest of the owners, and not the sport itself. Bettman was booed by fans at the last NHL draft, and that’s not the first time.

Despite some rather hostile public appearances, Bettman doesn’t seem too bothered as he feels as though his relationship with the fans is great. “My interaction with fans is terrific,” Bettman previously said.

Bettman has spoken about his fan relationship in the past
Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

“When I go to a game, the number of people who come up and say hello and want an autograph or a picture is overwhelming at points in time. I’m not sure that the narrative of what the media suggests fan opinion is is necessarily accurate, at least based on the experience that I have interacting with fans.”

And he even dismissed claims about being booed when attending public meetings or even when handing over the Stanley Cup to the eventual winners. “You know what, if everybody who comes up to me afterwards and says, “I didn’t boo you” didn’t boo me, I’m not sure anybody would be booing me,” Bettman added. “So who knows?”

30 years in any role is incredible, especially in the hot seat of the NHL. He may not be to everyone’s taste, but the NHL is still striving today and Bettman is a huge part of that.

And that’s why he’s being rewarded, with Sports Business Journal Publisher and Executive Editor Abe Madkour saying: “Since his first NHL media rights headlined the inaugural issue of SportsBusiness Daily back in 1994, Gary Bettman has been a fixture in our pages and an immensely influential figure in our industry. His willingness to think big, take risks and stick to his principles have solidified the NHL as an important property in the global sports landscape and positioned the league to continue to thrive well into the future.”

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