Gary Bettman grabbed the No. 1 spot on our annual list of 100 People of Power and Influence. The NHL commissioner had a great year and things are looking rosy on the NHL scene in 2014. He’s held the top spot 10 times in the past 15 years.
We’re putting the finishing touches on our 15th annual 100 People of Power and Influence issue and the most noticeable change over one year is seeing the lawyer suits replaced by players, coaches and international personalities.
Last year at this time – I apologize for reminding you – we were in a labor dispute and neither the NHL and Players’ Association were willing to budge. There was no hockey. Union head Donald Fehr was No. 1 on our 2013 power ranking because of the unanimous support and influence he held over his constituents, the rank-and-file NHL players. Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and the NHL’s band of owners and governors also dominated the top 20 names on the list. Lawyers and legal experts such as Bob Batterman and Shepard Goldfein were front and center on pages hockey fans were used to seeing depth charts and prospect reports.
The prospect for real NHL action was not good.
But that was last year so let’s leave that to rest.
The focus in PoP is back on the ice, or at least dealing with on-ice activities. We have a slight bent towards international personalities because of the growing influence centering around the 2014 Sochi Games in February.
With no labor war, the number of NHL personnel on our list has dropped from 13 to 10, the number of NHL team owners from 12 to 10. The number of NHL players has dropped marginally as well due to the likes of player reps Ron Hainsey and Kevin Westgarth slipping back into the shadows.
Personalities with an international connection are up to 24 from 19 year over year. And now that coaches actually have work to do, we have five of them rather than two.
As you would expect, the top players on the list are Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, though not in that order. With the upcoming Olympics in his native country and due to his red-hot start, Ovie is the top skater on our list.
The No. 1 spot on our PoP list is again held by a man who had an exceptional year on a variety of fronts. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman resolved a lockout without losing an entire season, settled ownership issues in a few cities and signed a $5.2-billion Canadian TV rights-holder deal, among other accomplishments.
Senior writer Adam Proteau talked to Bettman about these issues and more in our People of Power cover story.
Bettman has held the pole position in 10 of our 15 power and influence lists over the years. Crosby (three times) and Fehr (twice) are the only other men who have held the No. 1 spot.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN