Hall Call

NHL Commissioner Part of Impressive U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class

 

Gary Bettman is more than just the longest-serving active commissioner in all of professional sports. He is also the architect of a number of innovations that have moved the game forward at many different levels.

For all his accomplishments over the course his 26 years in office, Bettman will headline a distinguished class that will be enshrined into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Bettman will be joined by former NHL stars Brian Gionta and Tim Thomas, two-time women’s Olympian Krissy Wendell and pioneering administrator Neal Henderson during an induction ceremony slated for Dec. 12, in Washington, D.C.

Among the many changes under his watch includes the creation of the Winter Classic, which has turned New Year’s Day revolves around hockey, and its historical roots, with the installment of the Winter Classic. Participation in the game continues to rise, and that’s reflected at all levels in both registration and viewership numbers.

 

Under his leadership, the NHL expanded across the United States to nontraditional hockey markets, creating teams in Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas. Then-newly formed teams like the Nashville Predators and the Columbus Blue Jackets have become not only perennial powerhouses but staples of hockey growth in the community.

 

“When I talk to the people at USA Hockey, they say the fact that we have more franchises in more places has actually helped to fuel that growth,” Bettman said following the Hall of Fame announcement. “It’s not ever one thing and I think it’s been the collaboration of all the governing bodies and organizations local and national that are committed to hockey…has made the game more accessible.”

 

The Queens, N.Y., native has been at the helm of the league for almost a quarter of its history. Over that span of time, he has not only overseen the league’s growth but also rule changes and initiatives that focus on developing skill and keeping players safe.

 

With the support of Bettman and the NHL, USA Hockey introduced the American Development Model, a long-term model for athlete development, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this season. Since the ADM’s introduction, age-appropriate development and player retention techniques are the central focus of youth hockey, translating into greater success at highest levels.

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