There are always a number of fans associated with any sport that are not happy with the Commissioner of said sport and want to have him replaced. "Fire (insert commissioner's name here)!" is the rallying cry, especially if there has been some sort of unpopular move made by the commissioner's office of your favorite pro-league.
Gary Bettman knows this, and knows it well.
But let's be honest here, the Commissioner is not hired by or for the fans, he is hired by the owners and his job (basically) is to keep a group of powerful, sometimes childish (or just plain stupid) men focused on what is best for the league.
The best analogy I can come up with to describe the Commissioner's job is that it's a lot like trying to herd cats. Not easy at all. There will be times when he is the most unpopular persona in the game, but there's not a lot that we fans can do about that.
So, let's live in a fantasy world, for a few minutes, where the office of commissioner is empty -- yes, your dreams have come true and Gary Bettman has left the building -- and you have been asked to help in the selection of the new commissioner. Which brings us to our question of the week this week: What qualities would you like to see in our next commissioner? And as an added bonus, is there anyone you think would be qualified to do the job and why? Our Raw Charge team's answers and a poll after the jump.
John Fontana - Managing Editor
I can't play along here because reality dictates my perception of the commissioner's role too much. "Fire Gary Bettman" is an indictment on the National Hockey League's Board of Governors, executives, administrators, marketers, general managers, etc, who control the game more than the figurehead in Bettman. The wishful-thinking that Gary was gone and things would improve is misplaced, as the malignancies of the game oft attributed specifically toward Gary Bettman are simply symptoms of ownership's ineptitude.
So, basically I abstain from this question. People want Gary gone and if that happens, he will be replaced with another commissioner who will be exactly what Gary Bettman is now. Why? Why not a former hockey player who holds the game sacred? That's because the job is a business position; it's not a diplomat position, or a crony position that are often filled in the NHL executive offices with former players.
Cassie McClellan - Managing Editor
I think someone personable might be a good idea. You know, to shove those things that the owners and other Board of Governor people want down everyone's throats a bit more palatable. Just a hint of humor in the delivery goes a long, long way.
Gary Bettman has all the personality of a robot. He makes Sidney Crosby's public persona look like an easy-going guy, which is a feat. While everyone would still think the things that come out of his mouth are absurd, at least they'd seem less...sinister...? Right now, he comes off as a failed Bond villain.
Seriously, Gary - lighten up, will ya?
As has been pointed out in the past, the commissioner is an employee of the owners. The only real influence someone in that position wields is keeping the owners organized and focused on tasks at hand. It's like a flock of sheep hiring their shepherd. 90% of what we don't like about these people is coming from the owners. The other 10% is how they come off in the media. For whatever reason, the NFL has done a much better job of hiring charasmatic, telegenic people to fill those positions than the other sports. There's no nice way to say it; David Stern, Bud Selig and Gary Bettman simply don't come off well on television. So if I'm an owner (a member of the group that this person will ultimately report to), I want someone who will do what I say, can manage a group of extremely wealthy businessmen with individual agendas and who doesn't set the fans nerves on edge whenever they have to appear in front of the media.
How about this: let's let the NHL take a turn as THE progressive league and hire a woman for that position. There is absolutely no reason why that can't happen. I'll even propose a nominee: former Tampa mayor Pam Iorio.
Not part of my answer, but do you know who Bettman has always reminded me of? Not so much a Bond villian but more like the killjoy school administrator authority figure. Like Dean Wormer in Animal House or Principal Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Same with David Stern of the NBA.
Roger Goodell is a shifty Washington bureaucrat in a Tom Clancy thriller.
And Bud Selig is the ineffectual, dopey dad stereotype seen in every movie, show and commercial since Little House On The Prairie went off the air.
Clare Austin - staff writer
I'm probably in a minority of very close to one, but I don't think Bettman's doing all that bad a job. The qualities that a commissioner needs to have--be tough, be able to convince some very powerful people to do or not do something, be able to read the political lay of the land, be able to deal with being booed wherever you go--are the qualities that Bettman has. Yes, he's a bit creepy, but do we really want a "nice" guy in there? Don't we want someone who doesn't worry about being liked? I know I don't really want someone in there who's first instinct is to sell me something. I'd like it if some of the people who work for Bettman were replaced with actual professionals, especially Colin Campbell and the IT & marketing departments, but that's not really the question. I honestly can't think of anyone who could do the job the way it needs to be done and not get the kind of reputation Bettman has. [By the way, a former player would probably be one of the worst ideas. Too many old loyalties.]
Dani Toth - staff writer / Benched Whale
Since Gary has had the job for as long as he has it indicates to me that the owners are pretty happy with the job he has been doing. I'm sure they don't think everything over the years has been great, but for the most part, he's grown the game and more importantly, grown revenue. So as long as he comes out protecting the owners' interests in the next CBA negotiation, he's not going anywhere fast.
If he does get fired and they need to hire a new commissioner, it will be a guy (sorry Clark), most likely a lawyer, and most likely just be another version of Gary Bettman. It really doesn't matter who I think would make a good commissioner because we the fans aren't hiring him, it's the owners.