From the fans perspective, the lockout has gone on for way too long. Not only because of the games not being played, games through December 14th as well as the All-Star Weekend in Columbus the most recent to be cancelled, but because you start to see people for what they are. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on whose side you are on, the players are shooting themselves in the foot.
Three recent instances have drawn media attention, bringing unwanted judgement on the players.
Detroit Red Wings’ defenseman Ian White voiced his frustration, calling Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the NHL, an “idiot”. Expanding on his comments, White also felt, “Since he’s come in, he’s done nothing but damaged the game.”
“Obviously I’m really frustrated, It’s not good,” said Versteeg. “You do try to look at the best case scenarios moving forward once the CBA does get done and you gotta look for the cancers and you gotta cut out the cancer.”
“I think when you look at Bill Daly and Bettman they’ve been polluting this game for far too long.”
The most recent player, Dave Bolland of the Chicago Blackhawks. Bolland retweeted a comment about “wanting Bettman dead.” Bolland has since pleaded his innocence.
“It was a mistake, I never meant to retweet that out,” Bolland told TSN. “I like to retweet for a lot of my fans and I just retweeted the wrong thing. I feel bad about it.”
While only a few comments from the NHLPA membership, the comments nonetheless reinforce a negative image of the players.
Although Bettman is due his fair share of criticism, it takes two to tango, and NHLPA representative Donald Fehr is not without blame.
Both parties need to work together to get a deal done, and despite a player’s frustration, simply blaming Gary Bettman is rather foolish. Like it or not, Bettman has helped the league more than the players give him credit. One important issue, the one both sides are fighting over, the large paychecks White, Versteeg, Bolland and other players receive, are in part, because of Bettman’s leadership.
More importantly, when the players target Bettman, they need to realize they are targeting a representative of the Owners who pay the players their checks. Indirectly, the players are voicing frustrations of their owners, which creates an image of uneducated, ungrateful, overpaid athletes.