No matter the occasion, the NHL Awards, NHL Draft, or even when handing out the Stanley Cup, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is always booed by fans of the league at every opportunity. For newer fans, this might seem a bit odd.
Gary Bettman is the only person who can turn a group of fans celebrating their team win the Cup or excited about their team drafting a future generational star into a group of angry fans booing. Let’s go over why.
Why NHL fans boo commissioner Gary Bettman every chance they can.
Gary Bettman took over as commissioner of the NHL in 1993. In his tenure, the NHL expanded from 24 teams to 32 teams now in 2023. One big reason for the general hostility towards Bettman has to do with the lockouts that have occurred in his time as commissioner.
The league has had three lockouts during his tenure, in 1994-95, 2004-05 and 2012-13. The 2004-05 lockout was the only lockout to last the entire season and it resulted in the creation of a hard salary cap. While the salary cap has helped create a league of parity with a ton of competitive teams, the two lockouts in 1994-95 and 2004-05 really stunted the growth of the NHL.
Another issue fans have with Gary Bettman has to do with the changing advertisement of the NHL. In the past few seasons the league has added advertisements on their jerseys, helmets and so many digital advertisements on the boards and ice surface.
While ads might help lead to more revenue, some of the ads are hurting the broadcast for fans.
Another more recent issue fans might have with Gary Bettman has to do with the situation in Arizona. The Arizona Coyotes have been a team that has been rumored to move for a long time now. Hockey in the desert has seen many struggles, especially when it comes to their arena.
Bettman has thrown a lot of weight at keeping the Coyotes in Arizona, and now the team is playing in a small 5,000 seat arena. That in itself is getting fans of the league upset to watch an NHL team play in an arena so small.
Another issue has to do with the 10-year deal the NHL locked in with NBC back in 2011. The league generated a lot of revenue from that deal, however locking into such a long contract hurt the league as tv contracts spiked a few years after for other major sports.
The NHL jersey situation is another reason why fans have some issues with Gary Bettman. The league announced this past March that they would partner with Fanatics as their new jersey outfitter beginning in 2024-25. A lot of fans have not had a great experience with Fanatics when it comes to their sports apparel, and to partner with them as their official jersey outfitter just seemed like a gut punch to fans across the league.
There are a lot of reasons NHL fans boo commissioner Gary Bettman. While he has grown the game a lot during his tenure as commissioner, there have been a lot of moments that have irked fans through the years.