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Bettman’s personal message: “I’m sorry”

Jan 9, 2013, 4:49 PM EDT

Bettman says sorry

As expected, the NHL’s Board of Governors unanimously ratified the league’s new collective bargaining agreement today in New York.

But it was commissioner Gary Bettman’s personal message to the players, sponsors, and “most importantly to our fans,” that stood out:

“I’m sorry.”

Bettman acknowledged that no explanation was going to erase the hard feelings that the lockout caused.

“I read the letters, I followed the tweets, I read the blogs,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

Part of that work, according to the commissioner, will involve “outreaches” and “campaigns” aimed at reconnecting with the fans.

Bettman went on to praise the 10-year CBA as one he believes is good for the long-term health of the league.

“This is a good deal, this is a fair deal,” he said he told the owners, while admitting that ”not everyone gets what they want…on either side.”

As for his own future, Bettman called any talk of his departure “unfounded speculation” and that he’s looking forward to growing the game.

Now it’s the players’ turn to approve the deal. The NHLPA is expected to finish voting electronically by Saturday, with training camp likely to open Sunday.

  1. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Free Game Center is one way you can begin to “reach out”, Gary. It’s still going to rake a long time to mend fences but allowing fans to see whoever they want whenever they want is definitely a start.

    • killerpgh - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      I read that it’s not likely to get free center ice because the NHL doesn’t own the rights to that product. But it does own Game Center which is more or less center ice but you watch on-line. I never looked it up to verify, but it does make sense.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:39 PM

        Where there’s a will, there’s a way, to coin a phrase. They could offer rebates for anyone signing up for CenterIce, or pay that outfit directly. It could be done; I doubt it will. From this bunch of PR-fools we might get a few online freebies, but little else. C’mon GB, surprise me.

    • lsxphotog - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:50 PM

      Make Game Center Free…I would watch that every damn night!

    • baldhedjer - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:56 AM

      That would be a great way to reconnect with this fan, I will say that. The league has a lot of repair work to do, and free, online access to the regular season, through the Cup Finals is a step in the right direction. I would take advantage of it for sure.

  2. elvispocomo - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:54 PM


    • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      Agreed…………But what exactly was he supposed to do after all this?

      1.) He knew he had to lessen the players share to 50% to pull the teams struggling to stay in the black into decent financial standing

      2.) He couldn’t consolidate teams (although it would help the league) because the union would never approve the elimination of jobs

      3.) He had to eliminate backdiving deals to stop teams from circumventing the cap.

      There was going to be a nasty fight over all this. Fehr was hired to be a thorn in Bettman’s and the owners sides. You can be pro player, but parity is what allows every teams fans to get excited when the season starts. All teams need an ability to compete and all teams need an opportunity to be profitable.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        I agree the HRR share had to come down, contraction wasn’t an option, and backdiving deals were killing the sport, but he’s had the option to prevent the worst problems from happening.
        – The NHL had final say on the original back diving deals, they could have drawn the line at Zetterberg, Franzen and Hossa’s contracts before it got to Kovy’s being too much.
        – The NHL could have better facilitated moves for the money losing franchises, one of which they own but refused an offer from Basillie to buy from them because he wanted to move the team to an extremely rich hocket market.
        – The NHL lost hundreds of millions in revenue both now and in the future by locking out the players and nearly cancelling the season, he could have stayed at the table instead of stepping away repeatedly to get this deal done sooner.

        It didn’t have to be nasty, but Bettman didn’t learn anything from previous CBA negotiations and let the owners dictate the deal rather than negotiate something fair. Fehr sees their first 43% offer and plays hardball after that, it might have been different if they’d started out with more open negotiations and a reasonable offer supported by facts as to why they needed certain concessions.

  3. killerpgh - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Not really interested in what Bettman has to say unless its I’m stepping down.

  4. rpiotr01 - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Just shut up, Gary. You get exactly as much respect from the fans as you’ve shown them – Zero. Please slink away quietly and don’t show your face or open your mouth, and we’ll be happy to ignore you right back. You’re a disingenuous slob, and no one needs your pretend apologies. Let the greatness of our game speak for itself, and let us get back to enjoying it without having to look at or think about you.


    The Fans

    • kenwelker - Jan 12, 2013 at 1:40 AM

      You are a JERK
      you have done your best to distroy the NHL and have almost suceeded.
      The fans will be back
      But You need to go.
      We love the sport but how much more do you think we can take
      We almost lost another season
      Just resign
      That is the best thing you could do for the NHL
      Just resign.
      Save Hockey..

  5. rodeoclowndc - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    “I’m sorry.”

    Yes, you certainly are.

  6. bhawksrule - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    I can’t wait to see how bad he gets booed when handing over the cup to the winner

  7. danaking - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    “Sorry” isn’t strong enough a word to describe Gary Bettman.

  8. aspinaci - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Save it…

  9. runninwiththedogs - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    When does Donald Fehr apologize? MLB fans are still waiting…

    • jimw81 - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:08 PM

      Donald Fehr is retiring. He said it from the beginning.

    • elvispocomo - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      MLB fans aren’t waiting for anything anymore, they have the best owner/player agreement of all where both sides make money and they no longer have frequent work stoppages – thanks in large part to Fehr.

  10. nepo784 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Suck it, douchebag!

  11. thecheeman - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Free Bettman Fatheads for all

    • nuclearvoodoo - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      That would be the worlds smallest Fathead!

  12. mp1131211 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Bettman instantly induces sleep and boredom. NHLPA took so long to accept because they were avoiding being in a room with him. Good god, was that a first time read on that 2 pager, Gary?

  13. habssuck - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Bettman, if you really are sorry, do the sport a huge favor and step down and never come back!

  14. aventador12 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    This guy believes that 3-time’s a charm. This is bad comedy. It’ll definitely take a lot more than words to get back the trust and respect of the fans commissioner.

  15. bigtexas27 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Save it. You said the same thing about the CBA LAST TIME. Your a typical lawyer…full of crap

  16. girth2k1 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    My thoughts exactly bigtexas27…

  17. 950003cups - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    I have an outreach for ya right here Gary!!

    How about a steel cage match between Bettman and Fehr. A “No Holds Barred” match!! When it’s over, the fans can vote online to see who the winner is. Either BETTMAN, FEHR or RE-MATCH will be the voting options. Winner keeps his job.


  18. jakreidler - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Uh.. No more blackouts?

  19. barby97 - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    good try, gary! you almost(not) gained back my respect! (not) Better luck next time! (not)lets (not) see your cheery(not) face at the cup final!

  20. boondocksaint7 - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Where is Donald Trump when you need him? “Your Fired!”

  21. phillyphanatic77 - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Oh god Bettman calls it a “good deal” and a “fair deal”. It’s deja vu from 04-05. That means in 8 years he will tell us that the players got a way better deal than we fans can understand. And in order for the league to continue its viability the owners must take all of the players possessions. Take that half-assed apology and shove it Gary. Here’s hoping Bettman is removed from his post before the next labor strife.

  22. adambballn - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:31 PM

  23. jaybyrd99 - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    I’m tired of hollow apologies and ” thank you fans” that was written on the ice last time. Give us something concrete like center ice or game-center free ,discount your merchandise 40-50% off for a period of time , just please , please stop with the I’m sorries. It means nothing !

  24. drabix - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    Actions speak louder than words. I’m counting down to the next lockout in 8 years.

  25. pastabelly - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    You can bet that if he’s around when this CBA ends, there will be another lockout. Poor leadership. This deal is so close to the one the Players proposed in December.

  26. lewdood - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    You know what, I’m glad Bettman apologized, but honestly, he doesn’t owe anyone an apology. Not me, not you, not the fans, not anyone. If anyone owes anyone an apology, the owners (who voted to lockout the players and delay the season, not Bettman) owe apologies to the arena employees who went without work for the last few months and the local businesses around the arenas who may have had fewer customers because of the lockout.

    But they don’t “owe” fans anything. I’ve been a diehard NHL fan since I was 12 (I’m 34 now), but I understand that pro sports are (in this order) 1) business and 2) entertainment. So we didn’t have our teams to watch for a few months, big deal. It’s not like they were taking our money while they were locked out. I wasn’t charged for the Centre Ice package during the lockout, I wasn’t forced to buy tickets to non-existent games, and nobody made me buy merchandise that I didn’t want.

    I’m still going to watch when they come back, because I love hockey, and I love the NHL. But neither the owners nor the players have “wronged” me in any way. They had a business dispute, one which disrupted the flow of their product to its consumers. They’re not providing a necessary good like gasoline, food or electricity, so for the vast majority of the internet commentariat, there was no tangible impact of the lockout other than there was one less thing for us to watch on TV every night.

    These guys provide us with entertainment. And if you’re seriously so enraged that they had a business dispute because it involved sums of money that none of us could ever imagine having in our lifetimes, and you’re willing to swear off watching the highest quality hockey on the planet because you’re so aggrieved, then you’re ridiculously thin-skinned.

    So feel free to “boycott” the NHL if you’ve taken the lockout as a personal affront. Rage against Bettman if you want. But don’t continue to flock to NHL blogs and forums to complain about how you “don’t care” about the NHL anymore. Go whine somewhere else. The rest of us would like to act like grown-ups — not petulant children who were denied the lollipop by their parents — and tune in to as many games this season as possible.

    Go Sens Go, and Vive Les Nordiques

    • jganz05 - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:52 AM

      Well said, although I think there is a break in the process when there is a lockout looming after every CBA expires. I personally couldnt be more psyched for the intense months of NHL to come. At least the whole season didnt get flushed.

      Need me some MN Wild Playoff hockey!

  27. steelers88 - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Just be happy the NHL is back!

  28. cvgconstruction - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Lets have the fans vote On Betman’s future, he would not like that out come.

  29. bricktop02 - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    And the Oscar goes to….. lewdood

  30. tonys4 - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    u gotta see this caricature of bettman thanking the fans for their patience:


    And oh Lewdood, we all can understand there are business disputes but the WAY he approached the talks is what really makes us dislike Bettman. I mean that first proposal at 43% set the pace basically sayin to the players: ‘the owners and I, mostly I, have no respect for the players and we really don’t care what you think’ and that my friend, is a killer in any negotiations. If he knew he was going the settle at 50% – hell everybody knew just because he follows his master stern from the nba – why the hell do you approach a guy like donald fehr with a disrespectful and condescending offer? Bettman had to know this was going to cause a major problem. And if he didn’t he’s an incompetent negotiator. Either way, he should be fired for that.

    So Gary the retard, please leave now. And take your henchman Bill ‘there’s nothing to talk about’ Daly with you. Go on that hill u were talking about and never come back. Bye. See ya.

    • lewdood - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      The players were receiving 57% under the last offer. He offered 43%. They settled at the exact midway point — 50/50.

      Had he offered 50% initially, the PA would have known they had a dupe on their hands and the midway point at settlement may have been 53.5% players, 46.5% owners.

      I’d guarantee you wouldn’t have had to worry about demanding Bettman quit if he’d done that, because the owners would have kicked him to the curb themselves.

  31. klownboy - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    I’d be more willing to accept Bettman’s apology if he re-signs as commish…

  32. devilsfan3332 - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:48 AM


    After three lockouts and a lost season in less then 20 years it is time for your sorry ass to move on..I,as will hundreds of thousands of other fans,will never attend another NHL game..You,and your owners,have destroyed the National Hockey League through your greed and no amount of outreach will get the fans you lost back into the arenas…Just remember this…Your owners are going to lose millions of dollars because of the lockout and its their fault..

    I was a hockey fan for years..Now I could care less about the NHL

  33. cpbialois - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Reblogged this on The BiaLog.

  34. buzhockeyeldredge - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Gary …You are responsible for causing so many of us to give up on being supporters of the NHL. The lockouts stink– say the fans. Your way of being the commissioner has just depleted me of my love of professional hockey. You can’t get major TV contracts, even we, the fans, know that. Your attempts to put hockey in the southern US are laughable. Please resign and get out… you’ve hurt the sport too long. Thank you.

  35. paledevil - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    What did anybody expect Bettman to do ? Roll over play dead? Turn against the owners ? Break down from pressure…. Wrong guy Wrong blames
    Whats done is done

  36. tpa43 - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    I agree. The owners should say they are sorry and man up. This isn’t the NFL, where you throw everyone under the bus. Just admit your mistakes and move on.

  37. chill7434 - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Well Gary this could make ya or break ya. No pressure.

  38. tmarz1234 - Jan 10, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    yeah, tell the city of Detroit how sorry you are. They lost millions in revenues for the Winter Classic (at The Big House), 2 Alumni games at Comerica, not to mention the tourism for the hotels, restaurants and casinos. Sorry, really? Pathetic waste of oxygen is an embarrassment to hockey. What a piece of dirt.

  39. Jeff - Jan 11, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    Not Gary’s fault.
    Fault lies with the owners and the players. Until they apologize, individually, one by one, I won’t even begin to think about coming back.

  40. billshowmail - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Mr Bettman had all Summer to get this deal done for his sake and the sake of all the fans and employees. Now he expects all of us to re arrange our summer vacation plans so his Owners can get out of this debacle without losing any of their own skin in the deal? He should apologize to the fans because they do have the season ticket holders money as a deposit from last year. Now we get a truncated season that will show almost none of the skill needed honed throughout the year of playing with a team, that we’ve come to expect. Its a second rate season he has left us with, and nothing is back to normal, except the fact that we will have these fights again next year with the Olympics. Save your sorries for then too?

  41. Jeff - Jan 13, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    Very good points @lewdood.
    Still, fans foot the bill through ticket and NHL paraphernalia sales, and with our eyes and ears watching and listening to ads.
    We pay the owners. Owners pay the players. Without fans there is no hockey.
    In my mind, owners and players owe fans.

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