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Who Would be the Next NHL Commissioner?

Keep those boos coming, Bill Daly could be the next benevolent dictator. Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

How long have we all screamed for Gary Bettman to resign/be fired as NHL commissioner? If I had a nickel for each time it’s happened, I’d have more money than Bettman himself. Don’t worry, I’m with you – he should step down, because three lockouts in his tenure have tarnished his credibility beyond repair.

But what if one day we all woke up to find that Bettman was gone – ousted, resigned, whatever. He wouldn’t be commissioner anymore. After the initial parades down 30 main streets (in each NHL city), reality would set in with this daunting question: now who’s in charge?

The next commissioner should be someone who sees things from both sides, not just from the owners’ point of view. Mario Lemieux, perhaps? How about Ken Dryden? Either one would be a great choice. But like the pony we always put on our Christmas and birthday wish lists, we won’t be getting that. Ladies and gentlemen, your next NHL commissioner will most likely be…current deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

That’s a seemingly logical progression, right? The good news is that he’s basically Bettman’s clone in that he’d have the support of the same group of eight owners needed for approval on any changes he’d want to make. The bad news: he’s basically Bettman’s clone. He’s also just as bad at public relations, as he’s shown in his numerous press briefings and media statements. If anything, it’s a case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Unless the Board of Governors wants some new blood in management, he’s all they’ve got.

We know Bettman’s departure won’t happen simply on the wishes of fans. Bettman won’t just resign, that would be too logical. And the Board of Governors, who would ultimately decide if he should go, is most likely not going to vote for his removal unless they suddenly re-enact the movie Mutiny on the Bounty and send him off in a figurative rowboat like Captain Bligh.

Maybe it won’t be soon, but someday the board will get fed up with Gary Bettman. When that happens, someone will lean close to him and whisper “You see that flash of light in the corner of your eye? That’s your career dissipation light. It just went into high gear.” Then his days as commissioner will be numbered.