Friday, June 4, 2010


Gary Bettman 1, Ron MacLean 0. The traditional intermission sparring match between the NHL's long-serving Commissioner and Hockey Night in Canada's longtime studio host during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday was one-sided in Bettman's favor to the point of embarrassment. MacLean's attempts to pin Bettman down on the viability of US Sun Belt franchises were as uninteresting as they were awkward, and Bettman was entirely justified in calling out MacLean for pursuing a line of questioning irrelevant to most viewers, and for presuming to speak on behalf of the players and their interests as business partners. MacLean knows a lot about hockey but was out of his depth in a business conversation with Bettman - a law school graduate accustomed to moving in much more sophisticated fiduciary circles than MacLean, a high school graduate who hangs out with Don Cherry. Ron MacLean often gives as good as he gets in his exchanges with Bettman, but he's a better journalist and interviewer than he demonstrated Wednesday, and whether it was his decision or his producers told him to get in commissioner's grill for putting NHL franchises in places like Florida, Phoenix and Carolina instead of Quebec, Hamilton and Winnipeg, it backfired in a big, bad way. Unfortunately for MacLean, who helped save a drowning man yesterday, there was no one to save him from drowning in his own naivete.

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