Hockey fans like to use Gary Bettman as a convenient scapegoat but it’s not him alone. He answers to the owners and really can’t do anything they don’t want. It’s the owners that we as fans need to worry about and because they act in secret we basically don’t even know which owners have what opinions.
In the comments for that article someone posted an SI article from 1965 about the operations of the NHL. Read that and then consider the following paragraph:
In his tenure as NHL commissioner, Bettman has sat like the man who is dunked by baseballs at the carnival, absorbing shot after shot by critics who mistakenly assume that he is setting policy. “This is a problem in journalism today,” he said. “If they all wrote the same thing it wouldn’t be any good, would it? So they are all looking for a new angle, particularly if it can be one which is challenging. The little man enjoys seeing the big guy get the hell kicked out of him. The reader just isn’t interested if you say Bettman’s a nice guy. They don’t give a goddam.” Neither, to judge by his cold analysis, does Gary Bettman. He has developed a thick skin, perhaps because he realizes better than his critics that he is not the grand emperor of pro hockey but simply the agent for the owners of thirty commercial enterprises known as hockey teams. He reminds one of John L. Lewis’ description of Cyrus Ching as “a truly remarkable man, who sees through the eyes of United States Rubber.” Lewis was not challenging Ching’s honesty or skill, nor does anyone who knows Bettman challenge his. They merely challenge a perspective that may be so limited as to distort.