One thing you can’t help but notice if you pay attention to the support structure (fans) for any entertainment is that there are cliques within each and every fandom. Fans will split off any given group into factions, and the diffusing of energy can lead to groups struggling, or even going to extent. In science fiction and fantasy the filers and gamers herd together and neither herd spends much time with the media folks, the cos play and the literature folks don’t have much to day to each other, and all of them are convinced the SMOF’s are insane. With in each of those top level groups you have smaller but still significant groups.
Among sports fans, you have team fans, and fans of the sport, and then casual fans as the top level groups. Below them are fans of players, eras, coaches and styles of play. On Facebook when those factions break down, there are new groups created. The San Jose Sharks group is over 7000 members strong and growing. The largest Boston Bruins group is about 10,000 members with several smaller groups, the Montreal Canadiens language split means their are two groups with five figure memberships and then several groups with a few hundred members.
The largest National Hockey League related group on Facebook that can be found? That one is dedicated to the appreciation of Gary Bettman. In fact there are two other similar groups with large membership. The Fire Gary Bettman Movement!!!… group boasts about 25,000 members. The similarly named The Fire Gary Bettman Movement page has eclipsed the 8,000 member mark. And the succinctly named Fire Gary Bettman page has over 6,000 likes.
By comparison, Roger Goodell who heads the NFL as their commissioner’s anti-fans have mustered less names to their cause ,about 7000 less likes for the largest page. The two largest groups don’t even contain 5000 members. If only this were as simple as 25000 vs 18000. The NFL dwarfs the NHL in viewer-ship. If we go with there being one NHL fan for every four NFL fan in north America, that just further underlines how much more of the NHL fanbase Gary Bettman has ticked off. Mix in the fact that there are more NFL cities than NHL cities, and you’re talking a level of personal animosity towards the NHL commissioner that is staggering. The percentages aren’t worth calculating. In both absolute terms and Bettman is enormously more reviled by the people it is his job to cultivate than his National Football League counterpart.
While a sports league is structured differently than a major corporation like Blackberry, there are similarities. When public sentiment turned against the founders of Blackberry, its directors and stockholders acted to protect their investments and with the hope of reversing their fortunes. Despite years of this sentiment expressing itself even at the happiest of occasions, the NHL owners extended his contract despite the lockout, which memory says is the third work stoppage of his tenure.
The question then becomes; Is Gary Bettman legitimately the cause of all the perceived ills, or is he simply the stalking goat of the owners?