Response to Larry Brooks: Gary Bettman is an Advocate, Nothing More.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote an engaging article about the NHL owners’ offer to the NHLPA. I read the article and applauded Brooks’ advocacy of his opinion about the negotiations. The article was well thought out and persuasive. I am not a fan of Brooks in general but this was a nice marriage of wit and venom posing as compelling logic.

Coincidentally, that “advocacy” was the only thing Larry Brooks missed about Gary Bettman and was the flaw in his article. From the title of “Bettman Playing Dirty” and throughout, Brooks made Gary Bettman synonymous with the owners, as if they are two of the same. They are not.

“He’s not my friend, counsel. He’s my client or did they fail to teach you the difference wherever you went to law school?” Those were words I spoke as a much younger lawyer to a Deputy District Attorney after I got a not guilty verdict for a client in a drug case. The D.A. was young and pissed at the verdict. He caught up to me in the hallway a couple of weeks after the NG and proceeded to state with blustering pride that “my friend” was just picked up on weapons, drugs and related charges. The “friend” comment was what caused me to lay into the prosecutor about the difference between an advocate and someone I would call up and have a beer with on a Saturday afternoon.

Gary Bettman is an advocate. In these negotiations, he serves that role for the owners. Like a lawyer, he doesn’t get the first or last call. If the owners told him tomorrow that they want to keep everything as is, he would convey that offer and that may be the end of the CBA negotiations. To blame Gary Bettman for the NHL owners’ insulting and absurd offer is to blame me for my client’s conduct. For those wondering, he pled out to the charges the second time around and then moved to Arizona many years later where they encourage that type of behavior. I sometimes miss my younger days.

I realize there will be a difference of opinion here. Gary Bettman isn’t exactly “loved” by many and he may rate right below what we think of Anaheim Ducks’ fans in many players’ and fans’ minds. One could even argue that his opinion influences the owners and he is driving this ship. Perhaps. But when I see 30 very rich men and a handful of those within said 30 who have more fuck you money than they can count, I begin to doubt if little old Bettman calls the shots.



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14 replies

  1. True, we attorneys have to under legal duty to represent the trash or even the rich people of this world, but, we don’t have to take on the case, unless sometimes, we are working for a public defender office, where maybe we are fired for not following orders. But there can be exceptions to that. Over the years, I was called every name in the book for the kind of people I was representing. It was like water off a duck to me. Allred does not have to take on her cases, but, she often takes them on knowing up front that she will be mocked. She is also admired by many. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, even if wrong as the saying goes.

    If the people of the USA want to change how lawyers will be allowed to handle cases, I suppose they can get their way by voting and amending the constitution. Good luck on that, as it is rare to trump how lawyers go about their day to day business. Maybe it should change, but, it takes grassroots desire by the voters to make it happen.

    I agree, Bettman can always be free to be as independent as possible, but in the final analysis he is
    going to be under pressure to conform to the wishes of the owners. But, the owners often are not united and puts him into a strange role of figuring out the owners with the most clout and cash.

    Now, Bettman is booed about where ever he goes. I don’t see that typically with the chiefs of baseball, football, and basketball. There is something about Bettman that rubs the fans the wrong way, and I suspect many of the players too. I have heard many of reasons why Bettman is the bad guy or fall guy, and it is really hard to know what is fact and fiction. Yet, he has been around a long time and somehow he is a cat with nine lives. I think he has used a few of those lives to date.

    Interestingly, I have a lot of Canadian friends and family, and for some reason, they are universally uptight with Bettman. I wonder why? Just kidding because he really rubs the Canadians the wrong way.

    The bottom line for me is that there is a ton of posturing going on here, and the usual circus effort to make hay with the media to get some leverage. Both sides really ought to come to terms and everybody will be making a lot of money, whether it is from hockey or their own investments and businesses that typically are cash cows.

    • In all fairness, the mouthpieces of the other leagues get shit on all the time, just like Buttman.

      • Yeah, to some degree, because we fans are paying a lot of bucks to see sporting events for the big four, unless it is the bleachers or top deck at Dodger Stadium.

  2. Is there a lawyer who’s handled more than a half-dozen cases in his career who doesn’t himself consider at least one of his own clients an asshole? Or who’s been shit on by opposing counsel for representing assholes?

    So Bettman’s just a mouthpiece for the rich-bitches who pay his (outlandish) salary. That doesn’t make his message any easier to take, nor does it immunize him from being the flak-catcher he’s hired to be.

    Besides, he had a lotta different ways of presenting his clients’ case. He chose the one that binds him to his mates and makes the lot of them look like a pack of greedy shits.

    I know what it means to be an “advocate”. And I suppose behind Bettman’s public barnacles he’s a helluva nice guy who really gives a terrific blow-job. But if he’s gonna step up to the plate on behalf of a buncha motherfuckers — and do it for a salary much bigger than Doughty’s — he should be prepared for the fans to holler, “Muh-ther-fuh-ker” back at him.

  3. Go Tuan, you nailed it!

  4. Bettman is there to represent and serve the owners. he is the ‘face’ for the owners.

    the players I don’t blame at all. they merely play within and are paid by a system the owners and league agreed to every time a new CBA goes into effect.

    simply it’s market price. when the owners bitch about the salaries and costs, they have no one to blame but themselves. the owners and their GMs are the one’s that go bat shit crazy and put $100M / 10y contracts out there. it isn’t the players.

    i think the league originally proposed like a 9% reduction in revenue sharing to the PA. does that mean the players only have to give 91% effort for the life of that CBA? hell no. in fact it doesn’t matter anyways, because i guarantee within a few seasons of a new CBA the salaries will be right back up to what they are now.

    the only thing that may change is the contract length. i agree the 10-year contracts are bs and need to be avoided, both for the league and the PA. in reality the PA doesn’t want players signing long term deals, because it drives down market price. so the one proposed change the owners really want, is one that actually would help them in the long run.

    for the love of the game they better not lock out or cut the season short. the NHL is in a very good position when it comes to growing the fanbase. the NBA continues to sag in ratings. no one honestly gives two shits about MLB. the NFL is the only league you constantly hear fans talking about. the pace, excitement, skill and physicality are a natural draw for the NHL to earn fans. it just can’t keep derailing itself with work stoppages, because a bunch of crusty greedy old fucks want to pay players less every 5-7 years.

    dear owners…fans come to see the players and their team. they aren’t paying admission to see you. we understand you own the team, the rights, the contracts, etc. without the players and the fans……YOU GOT NOTHING. you’ve got a team, logos, empty uniforms, etc that nobody gives a shit about. be glad that you are able to sit back and earn 40-50% of the revenue each season. you don’t play, you don’t work the concessions, you merely finance and put the people in place for all this to happen. you’re worth millions of dollars, yet you want more. F you it’s called the ‘cost of business’.

  5. Doesn’t the work of an advocate work both ways? I mean isn’t the job of legal counsel to give advice and provide possible “vision” towards the most beneficial outcome/conclusion in a given case? In this case, the NHL had just recently gone through a work stoppage. A work stoppage brought on by the owners in which the players surrendered a years salary and an across the board pay cut. Many players had their signed legally binding contracts bought out as part of the agreement. When the labor dispute ended it was the owners and Bettman who talked of a “new framework” to keep the league running well into the future and the establishment of a salary cap – the end all be all in terms of financial stability and “fairness,” they said.

    Well, we are not “well into the future” as its only been 7 years and yet this framework has broken down according to the owners. My main problem with Bettman has to do with his inability to direct the league into a responsible future where work stoppages are not so common. Many professional leagues have learned these lessons the hard way, whereas Bettman and his merry band of buffoons act like drunken 19 year old sailors on leave in Thailand trying to fuck anything that moves. This recent “offer” by the owners/Bettman is an attempt to fuck everything…EVERYTHING. Its just not serious and these stinky fingered owners look upon the players and their union with absolute disdain. It has always been their view that the NHLPA was amateur hour. Maybe until today when the head of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr, and dozens of players (including Crosby and Ovechkin) offered a proposal, an adult proposal. Are you surprised? No? Really? Guess who was? You guessed right, the drunken sailor’s chaperon:

    “It’s clear to me that they didn’t put it together in an hour or two, and as a result we’re going to need to take a little bit of time to evaluate it, understand it” Bettman said. “If we’re going to respond, we want to respond appropriately.”

    Thats not how someone talks when they’re looking to fuck everything. You mean it didn’t take 2 hours!? Like when we tried to drown the NHLPA in reams of paperwork because they asked for….how dare they……financial records!!!!!! You know: PROOF!? The owners were caught off guard by this offer. Fehr and his boys are not amateurs and better yet for all of us they are serious people looking to solve a problem. Looking towards the future.

    Here’s Fehr:

    “We do believe that the proposal the players made today, once implemented, can produce a stable industry … that can gives us a chance to move beyond the recurring labour strife that has plagued the NHL the last two decades.”

    Because Fehr and his ADULT players understand the divide between large market and small market clubs (the owners know this all too well) the players agree to forfeit their own revenue and turn it over to smaller market teams in a revenue sharing arrangement. There will also be little to no change in the salary cap.

    For Bettman its time to huddle together the drunken finger fuckers that own these teams, slap their fat faces, and talk some sense to them. He’s not an advocate, he’s a fucking intervention counselor and these goofballs are hard fucking cases.

  6. it’s not looking good right now…bettman’s comments yesterday were obvious that he wasn’t taking the nhlpa offer seriously and today’s announcement quickly confirms that….bettman doesn’t mind looking bad, because he often comes across arrogant and patronizing even when times are good…and fans will boo him as long as he dares to stand behind a dais anyway, so he hasn’t minded before…and i’m guessing finishing first in a public popularity contest has never been a priority of his…..

    “So the only way to please the small markets (give us money) and the big markets (don’t take our money) is to get the players to pay for it.”

    that’s exactly what it’s looking like…the only leverage the nhlpa can muster from this situation is if those smaller market teams start to get impatient, (similar to the NBA lockout) and convince the larger markets to compromise – fat chance, of course….

    actually, bettman probably has as much job security as any other north american sports commissioner, possibly even more….even if he risks a fourth lockout in the last 20 years, as long as he continues to get the larger markets and sponsors what they want and increases television revenue like he has, he will be commissioner as long as he wants…

    among the other interesting changes that the owners are asking for is the lengthening of time a player endures in order to become a ufa….they want to switch it from it’s current 7 years of service to 10 years…further revenue sharing cuts than the original nhl proposal…and then there’s the luxury tax issue…and player safety issues….and then escrow…then the reconstruction of entry-level salaries, contract commitments and rfa player rights and team compensation….

    all this to be accomplished within a month when bettman says “we are not on the same page”, while fehr says they presented almost their whole proposal….that little nugget got lost in fehr’s, and the players, preemptive optimism to suggest that they are the ones on the side of the angels and that they are doing everything possible to make a deal work…so much for full disclosure, huh?….

    too bad curt flood has passed away….and maybe that’s what the nhlpa needs besides fehr’s cockeyed, yet appreciated, optimism and/or bettman’s proctor-like explanations and defensive posture – a player, or even an owner, to step up and get behind a logical solution, exposing the top-level owners greed and their attempts to monopolize free agency and revenue sharing…

    the truth is that the league would be better off with 26 teams and a 70 to 74 game season…bettman’s crime, if you will, was to keep poorer markets alive despite all the signals that contraction needed to be done…of course, bettman is an alpha commissioner and it would probably take the greek gods of Ares and Athena for him to deliver any type of mea culpa or admit that it was a major mistake to keep teams like phoenix and florida alive…and he probably has taken too long in his attempts to make things better for the islanders and charles wang, a scenario that should have been settled years ago and,instead complicates things even more…and we haven’t even got to new jersey’s problems yet, either….

    hard truths need to be realized by both the owners and the players…and whether these recent public displays of negotiations are attempts to draw battle lines in the sand from this point forward and try to sway public opinion, (which seems absolutely meaningless now), it only delays the inevitable – a compromise….

    however, bettman did get one thing right….it definitely takes two….

  7. I love how you scum-of-the-earth defense attorneys (who facilitate crime by putting back onto the streets: pedophiles, rapists, murders, drug dealers, etc.) vilify the great producers of our country (the rich) who drive the economy, create jobs, and who pay for the social programs that Democrats say they support–but in reality don’t actually fund. What pathetic losers you ‘class warfare’ degenerates are. So jealous. So envious. So bitter. And…oh…so stupid! After all, you idiots voted for Barrack Hussein. And you morons thought Joe Biden was a distinguished politician who added gravitas to the ticket. HA HA HA HA!

    • Ha ha. First, I am not a criminal defense lawyer. I was one to get trial experience. Second, read the constitution dip shit. Skip to the sixth amendment if the big words confuse you. Third, go fuck yourself. I am a Libertarian. Obama is the anti-me. However, he and I would agree that your comments make you appear like a grade A asshole who doesn’t have a clue about the topic of which you speak. And go back to cheering for the Ducks you fake conservative cock.

      And have a nice day

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