Bettman recently claimed little worry for any to-be-canceled games on account of hockey having "the best fans in the world." Maybe in Canada where their sports reigns from the midgets to the Maple Leafs, but you can only slap American sport fans in the face so many times before they punch you in the mouth (or at least take you to court).
The fact is that Bettman's failures are not simply related to labor stoppages. Rather, the lost time is the icing on his horrendous-looking cake. Of the eight lowest-drawing franchises in terms of home attendance, seven exist directly thanks to Bettman's leadership (the putrid-performing New York Islanders being the exception). Three were expansion markets and four were relocated under his watch.
Yet, with another chance to prove his mettle, Bettman is leading the owners and players into sports oblivion. Speaking as a season ticket holder alone — let alone someone who covers the game I've played since I could walk — it's terribly difficult to invest myself emotionally in a product that may not be there.
Did the Sabres do enough this offseason to make a run at the Cup? I can't honestly answer that considering I'm spending my time thinking about college football, the Bills, the Celtics, Newcastle United and whatever imaginary sport my two-year-old plays that involves clapping Lego blocks together.
We're eight days away from the deadline, Gary. It's just enough time to make up for almost two decades of inarguably poor work. Seize the opportunity.
Contact contributor Nick Mendola via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter, @nicholasmendola.