I am small in stature with grandiose plans for expansion.
I have been portrayed as a power hungry leader.
I have been accused of achieving my goals by taking power into my own hands to the exclusion of all around me.
Although I have professed to be acting for the good of the whole, I have been accused of being secretive and operating an organization that won’t tolerate any disagreement or criticism.
It has been said that I won’t allow expression of any opinion without my permission.
It has been said that these shortcomings in my personality lead to ultimate defeat.
Who am I?
You may think I’m writing about Gary Bettman, but actually these personality traits are those of the French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte who met his Waterloo in the 1800s.
If you were confused by the similarities don’t feel bad. Gary Bettman has been acting like a modern day Napoleon for several years. He has not only been secretive, but has been caught lying about the financial health of the league, and in particular the Phoenix Coyotes. In recent months, Bettman has been telling anyone who’ll listen that there are no teams that are suffering financial stress and league wide everything is “just fine”. Now we’re waiting on a bankruptcy hearing involving that same Phoenix Coyotes and we now learn the NHL has been paying the Coyotes bills since February.
Other signs of discomfort in NHL land include the New York Islanders whose owner says he now wishes he’d never bought the team. Then there’s the owner of the Dallas Stars who apparently has a severe case of the financial shorts. The Tampa Bay Lightning recently laid off most of its office staff (including their mascot) and is rumored to have financial troubles too. Nashville, Atlanta, and the Florida Panthers are also suffering at the gate, which is really the only source of funding for NHL teams since the American TV contacts don’t bring in any revenue. Perhaps if Bettman’s grandiose expansion plans hadn’t included areas in the sunbelt where fans would rather watch a high school football game or would rather spend an evening at a tractor pull than go to a hockey game, the NHL wouldn’t be in the mess it now finds itself.
Bettman’s recent unveiling as a something less than truthful commissioner and an incompetent expansion planner could finally be the little, modern day NHL general’s personal Waterloo.