Sports Hockey

Bettman's disregard for fans knows no boundaries

By Torben Rolfsen

Gary Bettman commissioner of the National Hockey League at the World Cup of Hockey press conference in Toronto on Wednesday August 17, 2016. (Stan Behal/Postmedia Network)

Gary Bettman commissioner of the National Hockey League at the World Cup of Hockey press conference in Toronto on Wednesday August 17, 2016. (Stan Behal/Postmedia Network)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had yet another “thank you” to Canadian hockey fans Sunday, running the Senators-Penguins Game 5 at the same time as the World Hockey Championship gold medal game.

With two big games on one long weekend Sunday, it was time for fans to open the deck doors, fire up the barbecue and get ready for six-to-seven hours of a hockey doubleheader.

Instead, we had the ridiculous spectacle of the two huge (non-junior) hockey games on the planet facing off within half an hour of each other.

Ottawa at Pittsburgh should have been flexed to a 5 p.m., 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. EST start.

Of the two games, the WHC certainly posted a clear win Sunday in terms of pure hockey fun. Saturday’s spectacular comeback win by Canada over Russia was some of the best the sport has had to offer this year.

This spring, more than ever, the grueling quest for Lord Stanley’s mug has become a war of attrition.

As injuries have mounted to the conference final's teams, the WHC took some of the entertainment spotlight away from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Sweden prevailed Sunday, as they had a distinct advantage in goal for the shootout.

Winning netminder Henrik Lundqvist joined a select group of players who completed a marathon by participating in each of September’s World Cup, the NHL regular season, Stanley Cup playoffs and World Hockey Championship.

That list includes Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Colton Parayko, Artemi Panarin and Nicklas Backstrom.

With the Olympics situation, it may be awhile until a Canadian men’s team can compete for international gold again.

Instead of best-on-best next February, we’ll get an all-star mini tournament, a skills competition, and probably another DJ set from Snoop Dogg.

Bettman’s continued disregard for the hockey fan knows no boundaries.

I mean, with Sunday’s scheduling, he’s not even pretending anymore.

He is now straight up trolling Canadian hockey fans, not to mention International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel.

The NHL ultimately exists for –and due to– fan interest, and thereby their wallets, but the powers-that-be in the league continually miss the bigger picture of growing and nurturing hockey interest.

At the very least, after Sunday, Bettman owes everyone fresh batteries for their remotes.