Puck Daddy - NHL

Adrian Dater of the Denver Post pimped this on Twitter today and it's a real gem: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on PBS's Charlie Rose Show from Jan. 22, 1996. (CharlieRose.com now has a full on-demand archive of interviews.) Click on Gary's boyish visage for the video, and then fast forward to about the 46-minute mark.

It's about 12 minutes of Bettman awkwardly attempting to sell his vision of the NHL to a non-fan, from hockey in sunny locales to comparisons with the NBA. Two rather wonderful passages of note:

Bettman on the glow puck: FoxTrax had just debuted during the NHL All-Star Game, and Bettman talks about the puck that glows thanks to "an infrared signal and batteries and computers" and how it will help make the game easier to follow "without distracting our current fans." Yeah, about that ...

The interesting note about this section is that Bettman defends the glow puck's necessity by claiming viewers can't follow a non-glowing puck well because of "the number of dots on the TV screen." This was years before the advent of digital cable and HDTV; it never occurred to me, even in writing a book that featured the glow puck, that technology would have eventually made the glow puck obsolete one day even if it didn't wear out its welcome.

Bettman on the Olympics: Why did he feel, back in 1996, that participation was important? From Bettman:

"It gives us an opportunity to do two things. One, it will raise the competition in ice hockey at the Olympics from a competitive standpoint to a level its never been before, because for the first time the world's greatest players will be representing their countries ...

"From our standpoint as the NHL, our very best players will be given a national and international exposure the likes of which they've never seen because the international aspects of the broadcasting of the Olympics gets unprecedented exposure."

Thirteen years later, FutureBettman's wondering if that exposure's worth shutting down the season every four years. What would PastBettman say think about that?

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