As reported by ESPN (since this is about the only thing they can report about hockey), Gary Bettman has seen his worth double during the post-lockout NHL. SportsBusiness Journal initially reported that the commissioner’s current salary comes in at $7.5 million, which ranks him last among the big-4 commissioners: Selig of MLB, Goddell of the NFL, and Stern of the NBA (whose salary is undisclosed, but is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $10 million).
This fact regarding our beloved commissioner’s money-making prowess can certainly be interpreted in different ways. Bettman works for the owners, and if the owners are making money, he’s going to make money, which the article clearly points out, stating that the NHL’s total revenue has soared by almost $1 billion during the post-lockout era. So when considering this, it would appear that the state of the NHL isn’t as bad as it seems. And therein lies the problem.
The top priority for league commissioners (next to making his owners happy) is to improve the image and the brand of the league he represents. I think most, if not all, would agree that Bettman has done nothing to live up to those standards. Take into account 2 lockouts that destroyed 1.5 seasons, numerous franchises having to relocated due to lost revenue (which is somewhat ironic considering the above), and www.firebettman.com and you have all the evidence you need.
Even consider this most recent Stanley Cup Final, when Alex Burrows’ chompers and the Vancouver Kissing Couple grabbed more headlines than the champion Boston Bruins. Whether or not the constant negative attention the NHL receives falls on the shoulders of the commish can certainly be debated, but its undeniable that the image of the NHL has gotten consistently worse under Bettman’s regime. With all that said, its pretty shocking to me that his salary has increased so much after the lockout, even with all the seemingly negative press that surrounds the league. Bottom line: Bettman isn’t going anywhere if he keeps making the owners money…and they’ll just keep feeding him more along the way.