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Roy MacGregor on Gary Bettman and the NHL Add to ...

Hockey columnist Roy MacGregor profiles National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman in Saturday's Globe and Mail, sitting down ahead of the all-star game with a man who evokes a wide range of emotions in the hockey world. His 18-year reign at the NHL has seen new franchises created in the south, a half-season lockout in 1994, a salary cap put in place after a lockout cancelled the 2004-05 season and the game re-invented via rule changes to reward skill and speed.

"Bettman's image in the country that calls hockey its national game and treats it as national religion is, at times, as polarized as Sarah Palin's in the United States," MacGregor writes. "He is blamed for everything from the demise of the Quebec Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets to the league's endless debates on what to do about head shots - one of which is today threatening the year, if not the career, of Sidney Crosby, Canada's golden Olympic hero. He has been accused of denying Hamilton its chance at an NHL franchise when Blackberry billionaire Jim Balsillie was rebuffed in attempts to take over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes - potentially bringing an NHL franchise to Hamilton.

His applauders have been less vocal, but there are those who believe if not for Bettman, Canadian franchises might have been lost in Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary - perhaps even Montreal and Vancouver, as well."

Mr. MacGregor will be online Monday at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions on the NHL commissioner and the current state of the game.

Readers using mobile phones should read the discussion by following this link.

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