NHL’s Bettman Scolds NBC; Tells FBN The Hockey Beards Stay
Playoff beards are here to stay.
Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports, told the Chicago Tribune last week that hockey players would attract more endorsements if they shaved during the postseason. In an exclusive interview with FOX Business Network’s Liz Claman, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman dismissed the suggestion.
“We are a sport of history and tradition. Mark’s a great partner, but we don’t always agree on everything,” Bettman said.
Lazarus argued that the superstitious facial hair, which can be traced back to the New York Islanders of the 1980s, makes NHL stars less recognizable to fans who watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“The players won’t like this, but I wish they all would stop growing beards in the postseason,” Lazarus said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“I know it’s a tradition and superstition, but I think (the beards do) hurt recognition. They have a great opportunity with more endorsements. Or simply more recognition with fans saying, ‘That guy looks like the kid next door,’ which many of these guys do. I think that would be a nice thing.”
NBC Sports extended its TV rights to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2011, agreeing to a 10-year, $2 billion deal. The Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) unit has been the NHL’s TV partner for the Stanley Cup since 2011.
Bettman, who has served as NHL commissioner since 1993, also spoke to FBN about his future with the league, the Stanley Cup Final and ticket prices.