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The Instigator: How Gary Bettman Remade the League and Changed the Game Forever [Hardcover]

Jonathon Gatehouse
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 11 2012
Gary Bettman’s two-decade reign has brought fans lockouts, soaring ticket prices, on-ice tinkering, and the heartbreaking departures of Canadian teams for American markets, and seen the centre of NHL power shift to Manhattan. Many hardcore hockey followers are convinced the commissioner is out to ruin the game this country loves.
Still, when Bettman took over in 1992, the gross revenue of the National Hockey League was US$400 million. This season, the figure will be closer to $3.3 billion—an eightfold increase. If that were the only criterion by which to judge Bettman’s tenure, he’d be a business success story. But on his watch, professional hockey has expanded beyond its traditional strongholds and shown it can prosper in unlikely places—even on American networks. And the best players in the world now all ply their trade in the league that Gary built.
By taming the NHL’s famously fractious owners, all but busting its players’ union, and by enforcing lawyerly discipline on everything from trash talk to Jim Balsillie’s efforts to crash the party, Bettman has become a figure of almost unrivalled power in the business of sport. His influence shapes 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 with crackdowns on obstruction and headshots.
In The Instigator, Jonathon Gatehouse details the unlikely ascension of a lonely New York City kid from a single-parent family who never played hockey and can barely skate to the sport’s biggest job. It examines his motivations, peels back his often aloof demeanour, and explains how a true outsider manages to lead, confound, and keep order in the game Canadians love.

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The Instigator: How Gary Bettman Remade the League and Changed the Game Forever + Journeyman: The Guy Who's Seen Everything in Hockey + Crossing The Line
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"A must-read for any fan that's seen the NHL reshaped during Bettman's reign" and a "treasure trove of anecdotes."  —Puck Daddy

"An excellent biography."  —Globe and Mail

"I enjoyed the hell out of this book. It was absolute quality."  —Mile High Hockey, the Colorado Avalanche blog on SB Nation
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Jonathon Gatehouse is a senior correspondent for Maclean’s magazine and was formerly a reporter for the National Post and Montreal’s Gazette. He lives in Toronto with his wife and children, plays hockey three times a week, and has a dog named Wendel.

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Most helpful customer reviews
By Deuce35
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Going into this book I was very much in the anti-Bettman camp as a hockey fan. However, this book was recommended to me as giving a new perspective on his tenure as Commissioner. This was very accurate.

The book gives an idea of why he did some of the things he did and shows his decisions in a context I had never before considered. It shows how hard the guy works and that, in the end, he wants the hockey business to grow. And that's where I think the trouble comes with the perception of Bettman. We want it treated as a game, his job is to treat it as a business.

I found the anecdotes interesting and felt it was a generally balanced voice used throughout.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very informative, but a poorly written book Dec 14 2012
By NYC Reader - Published on
Let me start by saying there is a lot of information in this book. It is VERY poorly organized. I was expecting this book to be about how Gary Bettman remade the NHL. Instead it seemed like a collection of short stories about things that happened in the league (that mostly had nothing to do with Bettman). Expectedly, most of them are pats on the back. The rest are stories about how he pitted sponsors against each other, handled the lockouts, and pretty much blackmailed cities by moving franchises.

If you are a huge hockey fan and follow the business side of it, it's worth a skim. Otherwise, skip it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good Nov. 19 2012
By Cameron - Published on
This was a pretty informative account of Gary Bettman and his tenure of the league. If you're into hockey and whatnot this should do the trick -- once again very informative -- unlike this review.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars in response to j. mitchelle Nov. 14 2012
By Jeremy Michaels - Published on
This book was fantastic. Gary bettman is by far the best commissioner in sports. J's review was completely arrogant as under bettmans watch the nhl has grown to record revenue and those teams he moved or expanded to in the sun belt have been more successful then any team in canada. So step back and rethink your statement, uninformed hockey "fan"
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Insightful Oct. 28 2013
By jason - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it gave good insight to where Bettman came from and what he's trying to do in the NHL today.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gary Bettman, hockey savior or pariah? Feb. 17 2013
By Steven F. Kowalski - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I used my review of Bettman's history as NHL Commissioner for my Leadership Theories class. I found Jonathon Gatehouse's bio to be fair and informative. Great read if you love the game of hockey and want to learn a bit more about the business of hockey.
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