FRB Book Club: The Instigator

Last week I flew out to Washington State to spend Thanksgiving with some family; and since I tend to read when I travel, I picked up a couple of books for the flight (and subsequent delays) to and fro; it makes the flight go by a bit faster, and also allows some distraction from the rancid body odor being emitted by the swarthy gentleman sitting in the seat directly in front of me.

Its timely (and at times prophetic) subject matter, considering the NHL Lockout is entering the stages of increased fan apathy, and with no end in sight. (#assmode)

The book isn't a biography of Commissioner Gary Bettman by any means; some context and background history on him is there, but the majority of the text deals with his tenure as NHL Head Honcho and his efforts to grow the game, the brand, and the business. Some chapters deal with the expansion into non-traditional markets, others on how he's played sponsors against each other in order to get the best deal. And its worked, considering the revenue stream the NHL is/was bringing in recently.

Maybe the most fascinating part of the book has to do with the umpteen labor negotiations in the last 20 years, and how its shaped the League, The Players Association, and his role as almighty overseer. I found there to be so many historical parallels between the past labor negotiations and the current, whether it be the issues (its all about the benjamins y'all) or the key figures (how dealing with Bob Goodenow may have shaped Gary Bettman's relationship with Donald Fehr.) Don't get me wrong, as this book doesn't paint Bettman, the figurehead of all that is evil according to some, as a sympathetic figure; although you begin to understand his role better- remember, he's there to not just guide the league, but keep the asylum in one piece.

And I'm not talking about the players...its the owners. One of the best lines in the book:

"The owners appeared unable to help themselves, yet they remained eager to have someone else impose discipline on their finances."

How true is this?

I highly recommend this- a relatively short read at 330+ pages. There's some number stuff that can get a little blah, but overall it was interesting and worth the price of admission.

Available pretty much everywhere.

1 comment:

  1. The book is a great read it really breaks down the labor issues and the NHL its self