DON’T GET ME STARTED had me coming down on NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman for a quarter of a century.

Gary Bettman

Art Wander

When I was on the air on radio and television, I kept urging Bettman to quit in view of his moves when he was named Commish. Anything the NBA did, it seemed certain that Bettman would follow that league’s moves. After all he came to the NHL from the NBA.

It hit a peak in last week’s Sabres game against the Florida Panthers. I swear, I felt that there were more ushers in the place than ticket buying fans. I can’t understand why they have an NHL team there. It must be disconcerting to the Florida players. And certainly disconcerting to the visiting team. In fact, I might have felt that transplanted Buffalo fans were louder with the cheers than the home folks.

OK. I could go on and on about negative things that happened in the NHL under Bettman’s watch…..but this is supposed to be a column giving him some praise.

Bettman final struck the right note when he adopted a 3 on 3 in the overtime. Watching players have so much room to skate and show their talents – especially goaltenders – makes the overtime more exciting than the 4 on 4.

Against the San Jose Sharks Saturday, the visitors got the winning goal during a 3 on 3 in OT. But it had fans sitting on the edge of their seats as both teams charged the net until San Jose got the game winner.

So give Bettman praise. He approved the move to a 3 on 3 in overtime. This certainly cuts down on the number of shoot-outs teams would have. The SO is still there but OT will have teams coming up with the winning tally.

I would favor a 4 on 4 during the regular game so the players can exhibit their skills with more open ice rather than those boring scrums against the boards and in the corners But unless the NHL would agree to keeping the same number of players on the bench, the union probably wouldn’t consider a move to 4 on 4.

So take a bow Gary. Who knows, maybe the next time you appear on the stage to present the Stanley Cup, you might get some cheers instead of boos on Don’t Get Me Started.

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