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Bettman, 67, became the first commissioner in NHL history in 1993 and has remained in the role through the present day. Prior to his tenure, the NHL’s highest title was president. Previously, he served as a top NBA executive.
Like most other U.S. sports leagues, the NHL was forced to shut down in mid-March after the worsening pandemic made it impossible to play games without risking public health. NHL executives are exploring ways to resume the 2019-20 season.
“I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done,” Bettman said at a recent virtual town hall event, according to the Mercury News.
Under Bettman’s leadership, the NHL grew from 24 teams in 1993 to its current group of 31 franchises. A 32nd team based in Seattle is expected to begin play in 2021. League revenues have grown steadily during his tenure, from $400 million when he took office to more than $5 billion annually at present.
Bettman’s NHL career hasn’t been without controversy. The league has experienced three labor disputes since he became commissioner, including one that resulted in the cancellation of the 2004-05 season. He has also faced criticism over the strategy of his franchise expansion, which included the placement of several teams in warm-weather states.
A key figure in the sport’s history, Bettman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. Bettman earned a salary of $9.6 million for the 2013-14 season, according to Sports Business Journal.