Who’s worse: Jacobs or Bettman?

Published On December 1, 2012 | By Meredith Perri

With the NHL lockout moving into its third month, some players have hinted that it’s not NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that they hold the most disdain for. In fact, it looks as though Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has taken that title, according to NBC Sports.

On Friday, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted that if the players had to choose who they would have in a room with them, it would be Bettman.

“When I ask about Bettman, players kind of shrug,” Yohe said on Twitter. “When I ask about Jeremy Jacobs, players get rage in their eyes.”

What exactly has the Bruins owner done to make himself so disliked? Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd had this to say about the proposed players-owner meeting in the Winnipeg Free Press on Friday:

“It could be a good idea. . . if it’s something where we could get all 30 owners in the same room with representatives from each team and talk, just so they know where we’re sitting and where everybody stands then, yeah it could be positive.

“But only if it’s done in the right way. If it’s still the same guys from their end talking. . . if it’s Jeremy Jacobs in there spewing his stuff, I don’t think it’s going to move this process forward.”

It appears the most recent reason for players and fans to dislike Jacobs came out of the recent NHL Board of Governors meeting, where one of the Jets alternate governors said that he did not want to be involved in a long lockout that would hurt the Jets’ momentum and the game of hockey.

Jacobs reprimanded the Winnipeg representative, calling him one of the “new kids on the block,” and according to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com, “informed him that he would know when he was allowed to speak in the NHL board room.”

“The NHLPA members and hockey fans alike are waylaying NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for instituting the work stoppage,” Haggerty writes. “But at the end of the day Bettman is simply the messenger for the 30 NHL owners. Jacobs and his fellow owners are the reason the NHL can’t function without a war between every new Collective Bargaining Agreement. They are the reason hockey is a mismanaged mess.”

Yet this is just the most recently tallied offense for Jacobs, who has garnered heavy criticism throughout his nearly 40 years as owner of the Bruins. Even when he was in the good graces of fans after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, Jacobs made a comment about Bruins President Cam Neely never winning a Cup while a player.

One would think that Jacobs is doing a disservice to his own team by continuing the lockout since in the next two years the Bruins, out of every team in the NHL, have the most money tied up in player salaries — something that would be impacted if the salary cap were to drop.

This would not be the first time that Jacobs put his team in a challenging position during a lockout. During the 2004-05 lockout, the Bruins allowed multiple top players to walk away, as they expected an open seller’s market for free agents. What Jacobs did not expect was a 24 percent salary rollback which gave teams discounts for all of the contracts they had signed prior to the lockout. The Bruins struggled during the following two years, eventually cleaning out their front office.

“Jacobs turned out to be a giant loser coming out of the last lockout, and now his Buffalo-sized ego is looking for a dramatic, one-sided win against the players coming out of this season’s work stoppage,” Haggerty writes. “That one-way, ends-justify-the-means mentality is exactly what’s driving the NHL owners this time around.”

Who do you think has become the real enemy in this lockout? Is it Bettman or Jacobs? One of the other owners? Or do you think it’s the players? Let us know in the comments below.


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About The Author

Meredith is a junior journalism student at Boston University. She has covered nearly every sport for The Daily Free Press, BU’s independent student newspaper, but mainly writes about women’s hockey. Meredith has also covered Major League Baseball as an intern with SNY and MetsBlog.com. Follow her on Twitter at @mere579.