NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has been known to say some wacky things. And there can be the perception that Bettman is in an ivory tower, unaware of his surroundings. This perception came back to bite him when the Commish met with reporters on Friday to discuss the state of the league and other matters. His head-scratching comments regarding fans taunting the Anaheim Ducks’ Corey Perry with “Katy Perry!” chants not being sexist are a prime example.
Also during that Q&A session with reporters, Bettman was asked about tanking and once again, his responses came out like someone in denial. When asked if teams tank to get a better chance in the Draft Lottery, Bettman sounded like Captain Louis Renault being shocked, shocked about gambling in Casablanca when attempting to trump up a charge.
“I don’t believe there’s tanking,” Bettman said. “I think it’s more perceptional. I think that perception gets driven more by commentary than it does in reality.
“The fact of the matter is, if the plan was to tank and get the No. 1 pick, then it obviously didn’t work.”
Bettman referred to Buffalo which had the overall worst record, but did not get the overall first pick in the NHL Draft. He continued:
“I don’t think that teams tank,” Bettman said. “I think teams rebuild, and in terms of the perception we have the mechanisms in place that should, despite suggestions to the contrary, eliminate that debate.”
If teams don’t lose on purpose, then why was the NHL compelled to make adjustments to its draft-lottery process?
“We’re dealing with the perception,” Bettman said. “Just like at the top – there were 16 points separating the top 16 teams – the margin on the back end isn’t that great either. It’s not like there’s one or two teams that stand out relative to anyone else.”
So Bettman is saying tanking is really a media thing mostly driven by commentary? To be fair, teams at the bottom were separated by 17 points, but Buffalo did appear it was doing its best to be at very bottom. Fans were cheering the Sabres when they were losing at home. That wasn’t just a media creation. The ivory tower at NHL headquarters must be really insulated.