Jonathon Gatehouse

Instigator

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With a labour fight looming, and the NHL's participation in the Olympics hanging in the balance, The Instigator looks at how two decades of lockouts, soaring ticket prices, and on-ice tinkering have convinced many hard-core fans that the NHL's long-time commissioner Gary Bettman is the devil in disguise. In 1992, the gross revenue of the National Hockey League was US$400 million. This season, the figure will be closer to $2.8 billion-a seven-fold increase. Even if that were the only criterion by which to judge Bettman's twenty-year tenure as NHL commissioner, he'd be a business success story. But on his watch, professional hockey has also expanded far beyond its regional strongholds, abandoning frostbitten Canadian outposts for America's Sun Belt sprawl. The best players in the world-not just North America-all ply their trade in the league Bettman built. By taming the NHL's famously fractious owners, all but busting its players' union, and enforcing a lawyerly discipline on everything from trash talk to a Blackberry billionaire's efforts to crash the party, Bettman has become a figure of almost unrivalled power in the business of sports. His influence shapes rival leagues in other countries, dictates the schedule of the Olympic Winter Games, and spills onto the ice itself with innovations such as the shootout and a second referee, and crackdowns on obstruction and headshots. In The Instigator, Jonathan Gatehouse details the unlikely ascension of a fatherless Jewish kid from Long Island, who never played hockey and can barely skate, to the sport's biggest job. It examines his motivations, peels back his often prickly demeanour, and explains how a true outsider to the game manages to lead, confound, and keep order.
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432 printed pages

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