Welcome Matt: NHL greed has robbed fans of best-on-best international hockey

Mar 22 2023, 9:22 pm

sekeres and price

Tournament MVP Shohei Ohtani stood with the trophy between MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, and it was hard to know who was smiling broadest.

The Japanese star after winning the World Baseball Classic gold medal in an upset over the US, or the two executives basking in the glow of what they’ve achieved.

The WBC grew up this year. It’s no longer a cobbled together event with cobbled together lineups and pitching staffs.

With strong player buy-in, this is now as best-on-best as baseball is going to get, and lays shame to the way NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his greedy band of 32 governors have approached the international side of their sport.

Manfred and Clark can now claim they’ve “grown the game.”

Hockey might have been able to say the same 13 years ago in Vancouver after an epic gold-medal final, but the last nine years have been an exercise in catering to spoiled brat owners and their NIMBY objections.

They don’t like interruptions to the season. They need more money from the IOC. They’re not treated VIP enough when at the Olympics.

It is yet more proof that Bettman’s 30-year tenure has been about enriching billionaire governors more than entertaining fans. Success by Bettman’s standard is bigger piles of cash for his Scrooge McDucks to dive into, screw servitude to the sport.

The crying shame is that hockey players, like their soccer brethren and maybe now the baseball players, so value the international game they will give life and limb to play for their countries. And we as fans have never seen Sidney Crosby play with Connor McDavid for Canada against Auston Matthews and the Tkachuk brothers for USA, or other delicious storylines and matchups that only the international game can deliver.

Perhaps that’s the problem?

Gary and the Greedy 32 are jealous of these international events and their myth-making ability. They don’t like that Paul Henderson, Gretzky-to-Lemieux, Herb Brooks’ Miracle or Sidney’s Golden Goal resonate as much as any NHL moment from the last 50 years.

I’d like to think that watching the success of the WBC brought a tinge of regret to Gary and Co. for the transactional way they’ve handled best-on-best international play at the Olympics. But I’d bet it only reinforced the notion that their next World Cup of Hockey could be a decent cash grab.

Matthew SekeresMatthew Sekeres

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