April 18, 2012
Mr. Gary Bettman
1185 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Dear Mr. Bettman:
It’s time for you to resign. The disturbing increase in head-hunting thuggery in this year’s NHL playoffs, along with your feeble response and denial of a problem, is enough to demand that you immediately step down.
This year’s playoffs have been characterized by an epidemic of fights and cheap shots. This development comes at a time when the awareness of the dangers of concussions and brain trauma has never been higher.
Tuesday night, veteran fighter Raffi Torres of Phoenix leveled Chicago’s Marian Hossa with an ugly elbow. The brutal hit left many who were watching wondering if Hossa would be able to get up and walk again. This incident followed a glove-dropping fight between NHL stars – and well-known concussion victims – Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux on Sunday afternoon.
The playoffs have become much more brutal than the regular season, with the average number of fights per game almost double the regular season rate. In addition, game misconduct penalties are way up in this year’s playoffs compared to the 2011 edition.
Despite trends like this, you continue to wonder why people see a problem. When asked about the playoff carnage to date after the Torres-Hossa incident, your response was typically of a things-are-fine nature.
“A lot of it is perception and misperception,” you said. “The game is physical, the game is emotional. These games are hard-fought. Having said that, I’d say player safety is monitored closely and being dealt with in an appropriate way.”
Will it take an on-ice death in the Stanley Cup Finals to change your perspective?
It’s clear that the sports world can no longer wait until you see the light. Back in February, we asked you to ban fighting and all blows to the head in the NHL (http://bit.ly/zFIABv). You chose to ignore us at that time. As a result, the safety of talented players continues to be jeopardized in NHL games.
The entire NHL culture needs to be changed when it comes to condoning blows to the brain.
Consider these quotes from coaches in your league:
“I thought it was great,” said Philadelphia Flyers Coach Peter Laviolette about the Crosby-Giroux fight. “A couple of the best players in the world dropping the gloves, going at it. In the end, that’s really playoff hockey, isn’t it?”
When asked about the violence in this year’s playoffs, Detroit Red Wings Coach Mike Babcock had this to say: “I think it’s a bunch of guys having a bunch of good times. I like watching it. Looks like good stuff to me.” (Looks like boxing without a license to us. See our letter to California attorney general Kamala Harris on this topic. http://bit.ly/HNJ2t6)
Undoubtedly, the stone-age mentality in the NHL exists well beyond your office. But as NHL commissioner, your lack of swift and strong action symbolically condones this type of thinking and behavior.
Mr. Bettman, you’re the leader of this league and your lack of leadership on this critical issue means you need to resign immediately.
It’s clear the NHL needs a strong commissioner to clean up this mess. It’s equally clear that you’re not the person to do it.
Founder, League of Fans
Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Joseph Siprut
11 Apr 2013
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Fred Bowen
20 Feb 2013
Q & A with Legendary Sportswriter Frank Deford
27 Jan 2013
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Brenda VanLengen
28 Dec 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Diana Cutaia
1 Nov 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Patrick Hruby
28 Sep 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Allen Sack
8 Aug 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Donna Lopiano
5 Jun 2012
Q’s & A’s with Jim Thompson
14 May 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Activists: Dave Zirin
18 Apr 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Activists: William Dowling
27 Mar 2012
Q’s & A’s with Notable Sports Figures: Taylor Branch
9 Mar 2012
Q’s & A’s with Notable Sports Figures – Joe Nocera
27 Feb 2012
Q’s & A’s with Notable Sports Figures – Chris Nowinski
13 Feb 2012
Q’s & A’s with Notable Sports Figures: Joe Ehrmann
3 Feb 2012
Q & A With John Gagliardi
24 Jan 2012
Q & A With Robert Lipsyte
10 Jan 2012
Q & A With Jay Coakley
27 Dec 2011
Q & A With John Gerdy
9 Dec 2011
- Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Joseph Siprut
Special FeaturesFrom League of Fans
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to encourage social & civic responsibility in sports industry & culture. See League of Fans Core Principles
April 6, 2013League of Fans Calls for More Humanistic Coaching Programs. Click here to see the release.
League of Fans Announces 2012 “Sport At Its Best” Awards
December 20, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on Ralph Nader's Call for Budding Sports Reformers
December 7, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on Ralph Nader's Claim that Sports Media Are Dropping the Ball on Social, Cultural, and Economic Issues in Sports
November 22, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on the campaign to Make the NCAA Live Up to Its Stated Purpose
October 26, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on the campaign to create a National Sports Commission
October 11, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on the campaign to Ensure Equal Opportunity in Sports for all Americans
September 21, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on putting the "Youth" back into "Youth Sports"
September 8, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on the campaign to abolish the BCS and Establish a College Football Playoff
August 25, 2011
Read the news release and report on Mandatory Implementation of King-Devick Concussion Test in High School and Youth Sports
August 11, 2011
Click here to read the report and news release and about the campaign to promote sports and physical education for all students
Read the news release and report on Campaign to Promote Humanistic Coaching Education Programs
July 13, 2011
Read the news release and report on the Push For Community Ownership in Professional Sports
June 24, 2011
Read the news release and report and Sports Manifesto on Re-Launch of League of Fans
March 24, 2011
NCAA's Reaction to League of Fans' Proposal
March 29, 2011
League of Fans' Response to NCAA
March 25, 2011
League of Fans Proposes Eliminating Athletic Scholarships to Help Restore Integrity on College Campuses
League of Fans is a project of the Center for Study of Responsive Law.