The new Bob Costas talk show on NBC Sports Network featured NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman for two segments this week: One in which he was peppered with questions about fighting from NBC's grand sports inquisitor (more on that in a moment) and the other featuring a reunion with his former boss, NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Costas had a question for both men: What's the worst mistake you've made as commissioner?
Stern relayed a tale from 1984, in which a joke about extending the NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics for the betterment of the league became an outright conspiracy about game fixing.
Then it was Bettman's turn and … well, our expectations were low. Gary Bettman admitting an error happens about as often as Gary Bettman receiving a standing ovation at the end of the Stanley Cup Final. He's the type of guy who gets asked about his character flaws in a job interview and replies "My biggest character flaw is not having tolerance for questions like that."
But on the Costas show, Bettman didn't just admit one mistake — he scored a hat trick!
From "Costas Tonight":
COSTAS: "Worst mistake you ever made?"
BETTMAN: "I don't think you can pinpoint it on one, so I'll give you a couple.
"In '94, we made the deal during collective bargaining that wasn't the right deal, just to save the season. Allowing the 'in the crease' rule, the foot-in-the-crease rule, we should have not done.
"And, uh, we once had a prospective owner defraud us, under crazy circumstances. So I'll give you a hat trick."
So there you go. The agreement to end the lockout in 1994-95 that fell short of a salary cap; the terrible "skate in the crease" rule that was so popular in Buffalo; and that scurrilous fraud known as John Spano, who defrauded his way to ownership of the New York Islanders. Or was it Boots Del Biaggio, who defrauded his way to Nashville Predators minority ownership? Or was it … well, we don't have all day.
Here's the segment with Costas and Bettman, the majority of it spent on hockey fighting and concussions:
What do you think Gary Bettman's biggest misstep as commissioner has been? That is, if you believe he's had one.