The Instigator

The Instigator

How Gary Bettman Remade the League and Changed the Game Forever

Book - 2012
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Random House, Inc.
Gary Bettman’s two-decade reign has brought fans lockouts, soaring ticket prices, on-ice tinkering, and the heartbreaking departures of Canadian teams for American markets, and seen the centre of NHL power shift to Manhattan. Many hardcore hockey followers are convinced the commissioner is out to ruin the game this country loves.

Still, when Bettman took over in 1992, the gross revenue of the National Hockey League was US$400 million. This season, the figure will be closer to $3.3 billion—an eightfold increase. If that were the only criterion by which to judge Bettman’s tenure, he’d be a business success story. But on his watch, professional hockey has expanded beyond its traditional strongholds and shown it can prosper in unlikely places—even on American networks. And the best players in the world now all ply their trade in the league that Gary built.

By taming the NHL’s famously fractious owners, all but busting its players’ union, and by enforcing lawyerly discipline on everything from trash talk to Jim Balsillie’s efforts to crash the party, Bettman has become a figure of almost unrivalled power in the business of sport. His influence shapes leagues in other countries, dictates the schedule of the Olympic Winter Games, and spills onto the ice itself with innovations such as the shootout and a second referee, and with crackdowns on obstruction and headshots.

In The Instigator, Jonathon Gatehouse details the unlikely ascension of a lonely New York City kid from a single-parent family who never played hockey and can barely skate to the sport’s biggest job. It examines his motivations, peels back his often aloof demeanour, and explains how a true outsider manages to lead, confound, and keep order in the game Canadians love.

Publisher: Toronto : Viking, 2012
Description: 344 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780670065929
Branch Call Number: 796.96264 Bet


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Mar 30, 2016

Love him or hate him (and most hockey fans in Canada as well as the Northeast and Midwest states are in the latter category) there is no doubt Gary Bettman has made the sport a serious business, and the owners and players rich beyond their wildest dreams. This is the story of how he's done it, and why he may be the most powerful of the Big Four sports' commissioners.

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