-Can anybody give me a good reason why every year in recent memory Gary Bettman has been the guy on the ice awarding the Stanley Cup? And I know he is the commissioner, but still. Every year I see him do it, he takes what should be one of the best moments of the season, seeing the overjoyed captain raise the cup over his head in triumph, and if not actually spoils it, kind of taints it with not only his presence at all, but his goofy, stilted, stammering, ham-fisted speechifying.
I mean, everybody loves the Stanley Cup.
Why taint that experience by including a guy who everybody hates?
Does ANYBODY like Gary Bettman?
I mean, really?
Additionally, this year, it seemed like this fact was acknowledged by the league as he was never really even introduced properly. I need to go back to the DVR to hear the actual wording of his introduction, but I know they didn't end it with his name. If they said "Ladies and Gentleman: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman" it is a rock solid guarantee that he would be booed, even if it was a night earlier in Detroit, and the hometown team was delirious with joy.
So if they are already altering introductions to make sure that the commissioner isn't booed, why doesn't he step aside for the good of the game? Because seeing him do his little dog and pony show is embarrassing.
He does his little rehearsed speech, awkwardly praises both teams and then says "come get the Stanley Cup" which would be great, if he'd fucking let go of it. He's gotta stand there like a fat little toad, clutching onto his completely unearned slice of the spotlight, while the captain of the team, a genuine hockey hero, stands around like a doofus, waiting for daddy to give him his treat.
Here's an idea. How about every single year the cup is awarded by a previous Stanley Cup winner and member of the Hall of Fame that remains unannounced until the actual ceremony itself. The Oscars do it right. The person who gives out the best picture award is a heavy hitter. Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Katherine Hepburn, somebody that commands unquestionable respect in the industry.
In hockey, it should be a person who means a great deal to the franchise who won the cup. Would it not be a thrill for even the Pittsburgh fans, (who like all great fans, stayed and applauded the ceremony) to hear "Ladies and Gentleman- Presenting the Stanley Cup: Hall of Famer and three time cup champion...Steve Yzerman"
If they managed to keep it a surprise up until the moment, it would make for supreme drama, and you know that Stevie Y would LOVE to hand that cup to Nick Lidstrom. He could deliver the same canned speech that Bettman does, but delivered from such an icon of the game, it would be a moment that would be nothing short of priceless.
If the Penguins won the cup, Mario awards it to Sidney Crosby. Winning the Stanley Cup represents being a part of history, and a part of the Stanley Cup forever, as your name will be engraved upon it from this point forth. It should be awarded by someone who is a part of that, either as a player, a builder, a broadcaster or a cherished member of the hockey family.
It would feature the game of hockey symbolically welcoming the newest chapter of it's history. That honor should come from a beloved part of that history.
Not Gary Bettman.