Bettman had his contract quietly extended five more years back in November, The Globe and Mail reported Friday. The newspaper reports that the nine-member executive committee unanimously approved the extension.
Bettman's current contract, which pays him $7.2 million annually, was originally set to expire this summer. Apparenlty, one of his biggest backers may very well be the owner of the team at the center of this week's controversy.
What will surely fire up the conspiracy theorists, who have been venting loudly on all forms of media following Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens, is the identity of the driving force behind Bettman’s new contract. It is Jeremy Jacobs, the NHL’s chairman of the board of governors who just happens to own the Boston Bruins, the team that employs Chara. However, as chairman, one of Jacobs’s duties is to keep the commissioner and the other key executives of the NHL under contract.
Bettman confirmed via e-mail he received an extension. “Old news. I believe my contract has been extended four times, each time with the approval of the board of governors,” he said.
Bettman, who was part of a panel convened to promote hockey on Capitol Hill on Thursday, didn't sweat the fact that Air Canada and seemingly all of Quebec was angered the league didn't give Chara at least a token suspension. Here's a look at that video.
Bettman has never been a fan-favorite. He gets blamed for the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season, his efforts to keep the Phoenix Coyotes from moving to Canada, his expansion to non-traditional markets, the fact that the NHL is no longer on ESPN and even the glowing puck. Since he's the guy at the top, he also gets his share of the blame for what often seems to be uneven discipline -- even if the former NBA exec leaves those issues to his hockey operations staff.
Lost is the fact that Bettman is popular among the only contingent that counts: the league's 30 owners. (OK. The league runs the Coyotes, so that one is a given.). He's gotten them a salary cap and the league, overall, is strong financially.