Imagine that you’re Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL. Imagine that you have a team in one of the top 50 American media markets, but it is on the edge of irrelevancy. Imagine that a former Blackberry CEO wanted to buy that team, but you did everything in your power to avoid that conclusion. Imagine that this team was in a rebuilding phase and it is in contention to win the first overall pick. Imagine that the projected first overall pick is a generational talent deemed to be the “next Gretzky”, a player who can change the fate of a franchise.
Doesn’t this situation sound all too familiar? Well, that’s because it is. Before the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Sidney Crosby, they were in risk of being relocated or face an even worse fate. Former Blackberry CEO Jim Balsillie tried to buy the team, but for some reason or another, was not able to complete the purchase. Then, the 2005 draft happened. The Pittsburgh Penguins won the draft lottery, and therefore won Sidney Crosby. Since then, hockey in Pittsburgh couldn’t be better. The team now has a new arena, was in the top-10 in average attendance last season, and is referred to by some as the center of the hockey universe…all because of Sidney Crosby.
If you were Gary Bettman, you could not have asked for anything better. Not only did your league’s draft lottery solve a team’s financial problems, but it also turned that team into a prosperous team that attracts ratings for all of your league’s major events. Not only is the commissioner happy, but so is everybody else who benefits from the league’s revenue sharing.
As you read through my first paragraph, I’m sure many of you thought that I was referring to the Arizona Coyotes and the possibility of winning the right to select their own saviour in Connor “McJesus” McDavid. As history has shown with Sidney Crosby, a player of his caliber could certainly change a franchise. Now, I’m not saying that the league has fixed any of their draft lotteries or that they would do so in the future, but what I am saying is that it would definitely be an incredibly good thing for the league if Connor McDavid were in a Arizona Coyotes sweater next season.
What the hell, if I were the commissioner of the league (or anyone who benefits from the revenue sharing), I would do anything to get the Coyotes the first overall pick in this year’s draft. It wouldn’t even look all that suspicious. The league has already changed its lottery rules to allow for many upsets (pretty convenient, especially when the draw isn’t done live) and the Arizona Coyotes have fallen all the way down the standings to third to last place. The team also has stated their intentions to rebuild and sell off any assets.
Although it may not be right, the NHL should do everything it can to guarantee that the Arizona Coyotes get Connor McDavid. They have proof in Sidney Crosby that shows it could turn the franchise around and increase the payout for the league and its shareholders. Gary Bettman has done everything he can to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix. If he is so set on keeping them there, then why not have them at least turn a profit? I’m sure that this has all gone through the mind of Gary Bettman.
The Arizona Coyotes will select Connor McDavid at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. True or False?