Boo Bettman, but he still de­serves Hall call

The Buffalo News - - HOCKEY -

the post-Ri­gas cri­sis days. They op­er­ated it and didn’t let it get sold off to a place like Hamil­ton. Once Tom Golisano stepped for­ward, the Sabres were safe.

Ask any­one who was there then. Bettman be­lieved in Buf­falo when plenty of oth­ers in the league no longer did.

“I tend to be more for­ward-think­ing,” he said. “I know I’ve been do­ing this now more than 25 years and I sup­pose on this week­end peo­ple are go­ing to be talk­ing about legacy. I’ve never re­ally fo­cused on my legacy. I’m hon­ored to be here but I’m not sure I do it in terms of what my ac­com­plish­ments may or may not have been. I leave that for oth­ers to say.”

Bettman will get his chance at the mi­cro­phone Mon­day night when he’s of­fi­cially in­ducted. He said when he ini­tially got the call about his in­duc­tion, his wife asked, “Does this mean they ex­pect you to re­tire?”

Bettman said he’s pon­der­ing the words in his speech and how he wants to rep­re­sent the game. But he’s not im­mune to the same emo­tion play­ers and coaches feel at this mo­ment.

“It ac­tu­ally seems sur­real be­cause this is an honor I’ve never re­ally fo­cused on,” he said. “To be in­cluded with the peo­ple that are in this amaz­ing hall, as many times as I’ve been part of the cer­e­mony and seen it, it doesn’t seem real now.”

Bettman is 66. Own­ers have never had the kind of wealth they do now. It seems rea­son­able to think he would have at least an­other 5-10 years as com­mis­sioner if he wants to stick around.

“As long as the own­ers are happy, as long as I wake up ev­ery morn­ing en­er­gized and ex­cited about what I do, which is how I wake up ev­ery morn­ing, I’m not think­ing about it at all,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously at some point ev­ery­thing runs its course in­clud­ing age, but it’s not any­thing I’m fo­cused on right now.”

That’s prob­a­bly good news for the league and its teams. As for the fans, their re­ac­tion to that state­ment is pre­dictable. Same thing they say ev­ery time Bettman speaks.

Getty Images

NHL com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman has em­braced the pas­sion of fans over the years.

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