October 18, 2000

A Proven Leader

Print More

If you wanted to watch Scotty Bowman lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to the last Stanley Cup in their famed dynasty in 1992, you better have lived in Pittsburgh or Chicago, home of their opponents. That’s because hockey had no national network contract. In many ways it was a marginalized, third-rate sport.

This is what Gary Bettman ’74 inherited in 1993 when he assumed the position of Commissioner of the NHL.

Today, the National Hockey League is one of the most rapidly growing sports associations in media share and ticket revenue.

Bettman has been at the helm of a renaissance that has transformed hockey from a small-time operation into one of the most prominent sports and entertainment corporations. The former ILR student has revived the media relations, fan base and merchandise sales of the league.

With the hockey season upon us, Bettman found time during a recent visit back to the East Hill to discuss his career, the state of hockey and contemporary issues in the sport.

The Queens native received his BS in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell, before attending New York University Law School. Bettman credits his ILR education coupled with his law degree for preparing him for the challenges he faces as commissioner.

His first job came working as an associate at a New York city law firm. Fate was on his side when Bettman was paired with his mentor at Proskauer Rose. David Stern, current NBA commissioner, was a senior ranking official with the firm when Bettman, his prot