Gary Bettman

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Gary Bettman (2007)

Gary Bruce Bettman (born June 2, 1952 in Queens , New York ) is an American sports official. Since February 1, 1993, he directs the North American and Commissioner Hockey League National Hockey League , previously he was also in the basketball league National Basketball Association employs as a consultant and vice president.


Study and job

Gary Bettman studied law at Cornell University with a major in labor law, graduating in 1974. He then attended New York University School of Law , where he received a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 and worked for the renowned law firm Proskauer Rose Goetz & Mendelsohn in New York City for the following years .

Engagement in sport

In 1981 Bettman joined the North American basketball league National Basketball Association (NBA), where he initially worked in marketing and the legal department. In the following years he went further and further into the hierarchy and was promoted to Senior Vice President and General Counsel appointed the league. During his time at the NBA, he was involved in the introduction of the salary cap , among other things .

In 1993, Bettman moved to the North American Ice Hockey League National Hockey League (NHL), where he was appointed the first commissioner of the league on February 1, replacing the last president of the league, Gilbert Stein , as the highest-ranking official.

During the 1990s, Bettman drove the expansion of the NHL. When he took office, the league comprised 24 teams and two more franchises had been announced before his term in office. With the Nashville Predators , Atlanta Thrashers , Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets , the number of teams increased to 30 by the year 2000. In addition, four teams from the north of the USA and Canada were relocated to southern states of the USA. The trend to expand the map of the NHL to the south in order to open up new markets led to some criticism, as one moved away from the "traditional markets" of North America. There were also allegations from Canada that Bettman would pursue an anti-Canada policy because he had not tried to prevent the relocations of the Québec Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets . These allegations came up again when entrepreneur Jim Balsillie tried to buy the Nashville Predators in 2007 with the intention of relocating them to Canada, but the sale ultimately failed. However, Bettman was also responsible for a fund that was created in the late 1990s to support Canada's four small markets in Vancouver , Edmonton , Ottawa and Calgary .

Since the beginning of his tenure, Bettman had to overcome two labor disputes in the NHL. The first lockout occurred in the fall of 1994 when the team owners locked out the players and there was thus a three-month delay in game operations. Issues were the owners' fear of excessive player salaries and therefore suggested a salary cap, a salary cap. This should support the small markets as well as new regulations for free agents . The players union NHLPA , however, wanted to accept a luxury tax for the players. After 104 days, an agreement was finally found in January 1995, even if the demand for a salary cap could not be implemented. However, the NHLPA was able to get the league to suspend its game operations in the Olympic years so that the players can take part in the Olympic ice hockey tournament. The 1994/95 season was finally reduced from 84 to 48 games in the basic round due to the lockout.

After the collective bargaining agreement expired in autumn 1998, all parties decided to extend it, but in autumn 2004 there was the second lockout in NHL history. Once again, the team owners sought a salary cap, while the players' union was again more after a luxury tax and would have accepted a five percent cut in salaries. Bettman negotiated again with both parties, but negotiations turned out to be more difficult than ten years earlier. When no agreement had been reached in February 2005, Gary Bettman announced the failure of the entire 2004/05 season . Since this was the first cancellation of an entire season in North American professional sport, the news made waves and many of Bettman's critics saw themselves confirmed and the opposition among the fans grew. In the summer of 2005, Bettman was finally able to announce that a new collective agreement was signed, which provided for a 24 percent cut in wages for the players and the upper wage limit required by the team owners, which should be based on the profits of the franchises.

One of Bettman's great achievements is that the league's income has more than quintupled since he took office, from $ 400 million to $ 2.2 billion, among other things due to the conclusion of high-value television contracts in the 1990s.

In recognition of his work for the NHL and ice hockey, Bettman was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 . The following year he was also accepted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame .

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