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Ted Lindsay to players: “Don’t go bad-mouthing Bettman like that”

Nov 28, 2012, 10:45 PM EST

Ted Lindsay Getty Images

Hockey Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay is the man behind the start of the NHLPA in the 1950s. He’s also the guy who wants today’s players to knock it off with the insults to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

The former Red Wings great told Jimmy Murphy of ESPNBoston.com that he’s tired of seeing the commissioner getting ripped by the players for doing what he’s paid to do.

“One thing that really has bothered me when I’m reading the paper on all of this is the way they’re talking about ‘that idiot Bettman’, or any of the other stupid adjectives they’ve used to describe him,” said Lindsay, 87. “They and the fans and the media need to realize that Bettman is doing his job and fulfilling his responsibility to the owners, just like (NHLPA executive director) Don (Fehr) is to the players. The players need to respect and understand that. Don’t go bad-mouthing Bettman like that.”

The number of players who have slagged Bettman either in interviews or via Twitter have been a disappointing side story thanks to the lockout. Being frustrated is one thing, to resort to insults somehow makes the whole situation seem worse.

The players would be wise to listen to Lindsay because he knows all too well what it’s like to be hammered on for being a labor leader.

  1. mississippimudslinger - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    Have another Gin and Tonic Lindsay

    • antkowiak666 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      i think i hear your sister/wife calling you to get back in the trailer.

    • valoisvipers - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:40 AM

      mud You really are a piece of crap. Show some respect.

  2. badintent - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    Why do all the Canadian hockey fans slag Bettman ?
    One. He’s American
    Two. He’s East Coast
    Three. He’s based in New York
    Four . He makes more $$ than most of them combined.
    Five. He wins, ever time !
    Six: Canadians confuse him with GW Bush ( and his hated $5 billion dollar softwood lumber tax took out 50,000 Canadian mill , truck and logging jobs)
    Seven. He doesn’t drink Molson or Lambatts, Made in Canada, taste like piss.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:57 PM

      Most of that is just nonsense. We (read: I) hate him because he’s an American with a total disregard for Canadian fans and the market as a whole. The fact that he fights tooth and nail to keep teams that hemorrhage money in the US rather than allow them to move in Canada (his meddling with Jim Balsillie’s attempts to move a team was particularly egregious) just underscores his utter contempt for us.

      P.S. if Molson tastes like piss how would you describe almost every single American beer?

      • therealjr - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:37 AM

        Disregard for Canadian fans/market: probably more like taking them for granted. In the NHL and other leagues it’s always about the new faces and new demographics. Piss on your loyal supporters.

        But otherwise, Lindsay is right. He’s the errand boy for the owners, and more likely, for a group of 8-10 owners who call the shots for this league.

      • woodstakes - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:19 AM

        Common man… its not that he has “total disregard for Canadian fans and the market…” the fact is he/they WANT/NEED these teams to succeed so he/they can ‘expand’ into Canada. The problem with that is they’ve tried it and it has failed. Where he/they missed is the fact he/they haven’t relocated these teams now. The problem with dealing with the 1%’ers is they don’t think anything they do or any decision they make could possibly be wrong. So rather than say “My bad… we’re moving ‘em to Canada!” they’d rather stick it out and still try to expand. I understand the thinking… “Wouldn’t it be great if our league were 34-36 teams strong. Imagine the money that would generate! We could be the next NFL!” But, they refuse to admit a mistake was made when everything they’ve touched in life is made of gold. Its AMAZING they let the Thrashers out of Atlanta.

      • noisetheorem - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:47 AM

        I haven’t drank enough piss to make any comparison to Molson, but I have had plenty of not so fresh water to compare it to American beer. I drink.

        And don’t think Canada has a monopoly on hatred for Bettman. As an American, I can say that sending him a box of dog poop has occasionally crossed my mind.

      • csr2000 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:58 AM

        And how do you explain the bailout fund he set up in the 90s to save the four Canadian teams that were failing? All the American teams paid into it. You guys are so blinded by nationalism to what the true facts are. 400 million in 1993 to over 3 billion in 2011. In anything organization this large there will be missteps but over all the numbers show he has done a good job.

      • elvispocomo - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        @csr2000: When the Canadian teams were struggling, it wasn’t due to lack of sufficient fans or poor quality teams like the major issues affecting some teams are now. It was about the Canadian teams having to compete with the American teams using the American dollar, which was purely beyond those teams and the NHL’s control.

        Forcing non-traditional hockey markets to try and grow the game in spite of ability to generate revenue (which has then resulted in another lockout and potentially season lost) is his biggest issue. When you have a willing owner (especially one that legitimately had money at the time) to buy the NHL-owned Coyotes but you block the sale because he wants to move the team to a profitable location, it’s not a good sign of thinking of the health of the league in the long run.

        I don’t think anyone is realistically saying he hasn’t done anything good, but what he has done that’s bad sticks out like a sore thumb. Some of that was pushed by the owners I’m sure, but some of it was only his idea as well.

      • csr2000 - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:50 PM

        @elvispocomo: Yes, the problem the Canadian teams were having was partially due to the exchange rate but it was not completely out of the teams control and it only effected the weaker Canadian teams. Many of the non-traditional markets that the NHL has expanded into are breaking even or making money. As time goes by they will build a fan base. It is not rocket science, you get kids playing hockey and you’ll have avid fans in 10 to 15 years. This is an estimate but I think there are something like 20,000 kids playing hockey in the Dallas area. If most Canadians had their way there would not be a team in Dallas (at least the ones that do all the posting on sites like this).

        Without teams in cities like Dallas, LA, San Jose, Raleigh, Tampa Bay and Florida the NHL would not have got anywhere near the money they did for TV and advertising. Twenty years ago hockey was the red headed step child of the sports world. Under Bettman the NHL has shook that image and now it is close to overtaking the NBA in revenues. I don’t understand how people are unable to step back and see the NHLs amazing growth from a fringe sport to a powerhouse. Maybe because the sport is and always has been huge in Canada, Canadians don’t care about how large the sport becomes outside the country.

        Regarding the Coyotes, if you talking about Mr. Balsillie wanting to move them to Southern Ontario, putting a team there surly was opposed by the Maple Leafs and the Sabres. Moving a team so close to the Sabres would have hurt the Sabres a great deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if many other teams were against that move for one reason or another. I think it funny that you think it was Bettman that didn’t want the team to move and not him taking marching orders from the owners.

        One last point, I disagree on what the cause of this lockout are. The players were making 57% of revenue – that is crazy! It doesn’t matter if every team was making money. 57% is ridiculous!!! These contracts that are being signed are also ridiculous. The amount, the length, and how they are structured. The fact that they are guaranteed money. While the owners may be overstepping on some of the contracting rights they offered 50/50 a long time ago and the players have been dragging their feet. The cause of the lockout is the typical reason. Workers, in general, no matter how much they are paid, always thinks they deserve more.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:21 PM

        I never said anything about most of those teams you just mentioned, but generalizations and creating your own narratives is what the comment section is all about.

        Also: “Balsillie struck a tentative agreement with Mario Lemieux to purchase the Penguins for $175 million US in 2006, but Bettman intervened and reportedly imposed restrictions to ensure the team would stay in Pittsburgh.

        Balsillie later agreed to purchase the Predators for $238 million US from Craig Leipold in 2007 and began accepting deposits for season’s tickets in Hamilton when Leipold had second thoughts and scuttled the deal.” (It’s generally believed that Bettman influenced those second thoughts.)

      • badintent - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:49 PM

        Micro brewery. Much better. RIM is going bust, maybe it’s for the better Zona stayed where they be for now.

    • tomnickle - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      I’m Canadian and don’t support Gary Bettman as the NHL commissioner for the following reasons.

      1. He put by-laws in place that financially penalize team owners and executives for sharing opinions that question his leadership.

      2. He hasn’t been accountable for the numerous errors under his leadership like Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Quebec City, Pittsburgh, Player safety, integrity of officiating and numerous others. I’m a Canadian who has been in favour of putting a team in Seattle or Milwaukee instead of Phoenix, Tampa Bay and most notably Winnipeg.

      3. His most important responsibility is making the NHL a profitable league. In that regard he’s succeeded even though he says otherwise. His second largest responsibility is ensuring that all 30 teams are profitable. Something he’s failed miserably in. His third major responsibility is maintaining the health of the game from a human interest standpoint. Again, colossal failure. He doesn’t market the players properly, spits in the face of the integrity of the game and consistently disregards the hand that feeds him.

      A comment that Canadians don’t like him due to his New York roots is hilarious by the way. The large majority of fan interest in hockey comes from Central and Eastern Canada, a percentage of the Canadian population that adores New York City and the East Coast in general.

      Canadians don’t hate Americans by such a generalized standard that you’ve suggested. You have us confused with the people of the middle-east.

    • kitshky - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      @badintent

      Of all the bullsh*t I’ve read on this site, and there’s been a lot of bullsh*t, this comment has to be one of the bullsh*t…iest(?), and yes you’re so full of bullsh*t we had to make up a new word.

      Disregarding pretty much all of your comment, I’ll just say … yes, because Bettman only gets booed in Canadian rinks. Jackass.

  3. hockeyflow33 - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:56 AM

    Over 20 years, three separate groups of players have had direct dealings with Bettman and completely disagree with Lindsay.

  4. acieu - Nov 29, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Canadians are Provincial.

  5. kicksave1980 - Nov 29, 2012 at 4:43 AM

    If some of you haven’t seen the CBC movie “Networth”, I highly recommend checking it out. It was broadcast on CBC in the mid-90’s, and goes over the formation of the NHLPA. Obviously, Ted Lindsay is the main character in the film. It can be found for under $20 on amazon these days, but you can (I’m sure) find it elsewhere as well.

    Regardless of where you side on the current issue, the movie does a great job of framing the 50’s era NHL and is a good history piece for all fans.

    “May we please see the NHL’s financial records for the past season?”
    “I’m afraid not, sir. That’s a violation of the bylaws. Only the league governors may see the financial records.”
    “I see. Can you show me where it says that in the bylaws?”
    “I can’t show you the bylaws…it says so right here in the bylaws.”

  6. id4joey - Nov 29, 2012 at 6:40 AM

    Everyone blaming Bettman for this lockout should take note of this article. This guy is an insider who undoubtedly was one of the trail blazers from the original 6 that helped shape the game. Your insistence on blaming Bettman for this mess only demonstrates your lack of maturity. The owners are the ones to blame for the lockout, and the players for being too stubborn to see they won’t get the best of the owners. If anything, the league probably needs need by laws. Only 8 votes needed to lockout the players is a joke in a 30 team league.

    • rogersjd16 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:37 AM

      10000% false. He represents and structures how the owners (and players) operate. Even if he is “just doing his job” it still doesn’t make for the fact this is the third time it’s happened under his watch with the potential for a 2nd full canceled season. You don’t get 2 “do overs” or mulligans when creating labor structures. The disparity between owners (as in $$) and the complete inability to create a sustainable system WITH RECORD REVENUES AND PROFITS are 10000% his fault.

      He can’t want to be leader, fail (twice), and then not expect criticism. And frankly, as much as I love Linsday, he should understand and know that as well.

      • rogersjd16 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:40 AM

        Let me clarify – Lindsay does know that. He’s speaking about not being vocal about it.

      • csr2000 - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:22 PM

        While I am completely with Bettman and the owners on the issues that resulted in the lockout, I do agree that Bettman and the owners laid down the foundation for this lockout 8 years ago by not having any foresight. The last two lockouts have been about a salary cap (which I agree their should be one). They got it on the second attempt but they gave the players too high of a share of HRR and put a framework in place to allow it percentage to grow to the crazy amount of 57%. They also wrote the rules in such a way to allow teams to bypass the salary cap. I blame Bettman and the owners for all these mistakes. This lockout is the owners attempting to correct those mistakes and the players saying we should change a thing, everything is great. People talk about Bettman not caring about the game, what about the players that are taking an incredible 57% of the revenues and being so unwilling to move to what all other major professional sports are at 50/50. We had lost over 300 games before the players agreed (in theory) to 50/50.

    • elvispocomo - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      He’s not saying “Don’t hold Bettman and the NHL responsible” – he’s saying “Stop using insults and respect that he has a job to do too.” If you were paying attention, you’d understand that.

  7. desertfan - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    Bettman is the “face” of the enemy to the players.

    Immaturity is to blame for there slander and for the ignorant fans who blast him, boo him etc.

    The guy has lead the league to record revenues, and acceptance in some great markets such as Southern Cal.

    Attended a playoff game in LA and sorry guys but way better atmosphere than Ott, Cal, Ed.

    The league needs to survive/thrive in some large US markets because unfortunately the world does not work your way.
    Number of homes ACROSS VARIOUS US REGIONS determines the value of a US tv deal.

    No more teams in Canada until that happens and it is growing.

    I spend winters in the US and 5 years ago there where 0 games in Cal, Nev, Ari etc

    Now I can go to any sport bar and watch hockey.

    Doing so well in LA market that the Center ice package actually blocks all other games if LA is on TV.

    So cheer on the “little Sucker” cayse he is the future for Quebec and Ontario expansion.

    I am not siding with his boss the NHL Board of Governors, who he gets approvals from for any cocessions- just showing due respect.

    • tomnickle - Nov 29, 2012 at 3:31 PM

      LA atmosphere for a hockey game is better than Calgary?

      Try again.

      I’ll give you Edmonton and Ottawa. But Calgary is the third best market in Canada to watch a game in, behind Vancouver and Montreal.

      Calgary games have great atmosphere for hockey…..much better than Los Angeles.

      • valoisvipers - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:48 AM

        Well tom I think last year with Kings winning the Cup and the Flames not in the playoffs again, the atmosphere would be better in LA. Besides the Kings have our good friend Blomfeld there cheering them on.

  8. ewoods6 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Yea, it’s his job to have 3 lockouts out of a possible 4 and cost, more importantly than players and teams, all the workers who are employed because of NHL hockey games so much $$ and so many since 1994 to lose their jobs.

    Bettman can burn in hell. Such a POS. Eat me Lindsay

  9. id4joey - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    desertfan, well said and more importantly what you said is accurate. 12 years ago I moved from the northeast to So Cal. Lived in Orange County along the coast halfway between L.A. & San Diego. I was surprised by all the beer leagues going 12 months a year. I was at a Ducks rally in Huntington Beach the summer they won the cup. Been to games in San Jose, LA, Anaheim and Phoenix. Hockey in bars along the beach is common. Bettman’s primary job when hired was to increase US market share, and TV deals. Funny thing though, I had never seen so many Latinos at a hockey game before moving to So Cal, but, that’s the beauty of it all. The game is popular in places where they dared to go. Hockey is healthy in Canada, and there is more room for growth in the US market than in Canada.

    I’ve also been to games in Canada, and have to admit the Southern fans get excited with the most trivial plays whereas the fan in the hot hockey markets would barely react. Nothing wrong with that but just saying its a different crowd down south.

  10. id4joey - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    ewoods6, problem is you and many others like you on here are acting like infants who are yet unaware of their surroundings. You act like the infant who lost his pacifier and thinks the whole world evolves around you. Get over yourself. No one is in this mess to stick it to the fans. It’s unlike justifying bombing Iraq based on a mountain of lies for an ulterior motive. It’s a f ing labor dispute. The Americans had a term for the innocent thousands they killed in Iraq. Oh! Yes! Collateral damage! That’s us. We’re not the target of this dispute.

  11. tmoore4075 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    I’ll start with saying I don’t like Bettman. He’s a lightning rod for a lot of this and it might be time for him to get out based on that. The players don’t trust him or want to work with him and that’s a problem. There will always be hate for the commish of any sport but he’s at a different level right now. Bettman comes off as smug and seems to enjoy the booing which drives me nuts. He doesn’t seem to want to look forward or at the very least can’t convince the owners to look down the road rather than being shortsighted. The rumors of expansion to QC and TO along with relocation to Seattle is the perfect example. The owners would rather get the one time expansion fees and the increased revenue rather than a smaller relocation fee and increased revenue. You could relocate a couple teams to Seattle and QC and that way you cut off a few weaker teams and make them more profitable. Look at Forbes value of the Thrashers/Jets. A year ago they were valued at $135mil and now $200mil. Expansion you would still have FLA, PHX and the Jackets bleeding money. Relocation solves that and adds revenue but whatever.

    With saying that Bettman gets more blame than he should. Whether he became commish or not back in 93 the league was already planning to go to 28 teams. They were already in SJ and Tampa and were on their way to Anaheim and FLA. The relocation of the North Stars was already in motion. How much he had to do with the location of Dallas I dunno but they would have moved without him. Nashville, ATL, CBJ and the relocation of PHX you can pin on him.

    What people forget the idea of expansion is to gain fans. Expanding to Quebec or Toronto or Hamilton or wherever doesn’t gain more fans and more sponsors. They were already there. The league always was a good gate driven league and they wanted to add more revenue and that would be through TV and sponsorship from new partners. You don’t do that staying in Canada.

    Also it’s the NHL that has always been about adding teams in the US not Bettman. How man Canadian teams were added in the 2nd 6 teams? None. Vancouver was added when they went to 14 teams. So 3 out of 14 were in Canada. The league never actually expanded to Canada again until the Senators. Oilers, Jets and Nords were part of the merger. Calgary and the new Jets were relocation. So it’s always been the NHL’s plans for the US over Canada.

    Again I don’t like Bettman. He’s done a lot of things or been at the helm for bad/stupid stuff. But his job was the grow revenues for the owners and he’s done that. That’s his #1 job. The league had a record 3.3bil in revenue. The owners will be getting more of that pie when this is all said and done and they have a pretty good tv deal with a network that actually gives the time of day unlike ESPN. He might be a douche and us fans are getting screwed with no hockey right now but he’s doing his job.

  12. charlutes - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    No way Ted Lindsay, players ripping Bettman is more entertaining than a Wild, Predators game. And yes, he absolutely deserves this. He’s been screwing with the game, causing lockouts and forcing bad markets into the picture from the beginning. Just cuz your old don’t get all soft on Bettman’s feelings, he deserves it.

  13. bleedingteal4life - Nov 29, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    So what if he is doing his job, doesn’t take away from the fact that he is doing it all wrong. If he was doing his job correctly, he would have been a man, stepped up, and dealt with this months ago. And obviously we, the fans, do not think “the world evolves around” us (nice butchering of that phrase) otherwise I would be watching hockey right now…

  14. fortwaynekomets - Nov 29, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    yeah but he’s doing his job to be a complete f*cking @$$clown.

    talk some sense into them Lindsay.

    until then… I just thankful for America One Sports online where you can watch the ECHL, CHL, & College Hockey!!! Getting to watch every past game On Demand is amazing too!

    • bluesfanman - Dec 3, 2012 at 11:30 PM

      I’d have to agree fortwaynekomet – Bettman is an @ss with no regard for the success of the league. If he had any brains, then why would their be so many lockouts in the NHL? Tell me what other league is plagued by lockouts like the NHL. Bettman is an @ss!!

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