As if 2020 wasn’t weird enough, the one-impossible has now happened: hockey fans like...Gary Bettman?
In the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, fans were asked if they were confident in NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Despite being booed on sight, and being blamed for any attendance ill anywhere (even though the NHL’s expansion to southern markets and a coast-to-coast U.S. footprint began in the 1960s), hockey fans actually gave Bettman a vote of confidence. More than 50 percent said they trust the commissioner.
Putting this in particularly jarring relief, respondents said that they would rather have Bettman than any other commissioner among the four major leagues.
(Islanders fans would typically have mixed feelings about Bettman, though he can at least be said to have been steadfast in the fight to keep the Islanders from leaving New York amid their many arena and ownership issues during his tenure.)
Fans were asked if Bettman was a better commissioner than his three counterparts – basketball commissioner Adam Silver, concussionball commissioner Roger Goodell, and DH-and-Ghost-Runners’ll-fix-it commissioner Rob Manfred.
In each instance, the majority of NHL fans surveyed gave Bettman the nod, though it was only by a sliver over Silver (sorry). I guess arena-mates gotta stick together.
The questions were presented as all four commissioners are grappling with how their sport will return from COVID-19, dealing with varying levels of criticism on multiple fronts. The NHL, NBA and MLB are all expected to return in late July, while the NFL is surely going to do something like that too, because I still randomly hear news about Tom Brady.
The NHL might even get a CBA extension out of all this, while MLB has faced all kinds of criticism for slow-walking the start of 2020.
This is SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NHL. Each week, SB Nation sends out questions to plugged-in Islanders fans, and survey-hungry fans across the country. Sign up here to participate.