Phil Pritchard, Keeper of the Cup, is ready.
Gary Bettman? Hopefully, he’s ready. While cheers and confetti will rain down after a Stanley Cup victory, the only thing raining down on the Commissioner – at either arena – will be boos.
Here’s a look back at the abuse he’s endured over the past decade when presenting the Cup:
2012 – Los Angeles
For the first time in five years, the home team claimed Lord Stanley’s Cup on their own ice. That gave Kings fans a little more to cheer about – along with the fact that this was the first championship for the franchise. The resulting boos were a little lower than normal. It’s hard to find that kind of anger when your team just won the Cup. When the road team wins, it’s a different story…
2011 – Vancouver:
Deafening, until the moment Chara skates over to
smash him like bug hoist the chalice. Nice job by the Vancouver fans to show some solid appreciation, even though the Bruins dominated the Canucks in Game 7 to win the Cup.
2010 – Philadelphia:
2009 – Detroit:
The boos only quiet slightly when Crosby touches the cup, but you have to love the Detroit fan’s comment: “I can’t [expletive] watch it.”
2008 – Pittsburgh:
The NHL misses you already, Nicklas Lidstrom. Even the Penguins fans would gladly welcome you back into the league. Bettman? Eh… not so much.
2007 – Anaheim
After walking out to a deafening level of boos, Bettman opened with: “Sounds like hockey’s doing pretty good in Southern California, don’t you think?” Not sure if he was being genuine and clueless or if that was his attempt at sarcasm.
2006 – Carolina:
Again, having the home team win sure softens the blow. So does some dramatic music to cover up the boos. Taking a cue from the WWE, Bettman goes for some cheap applause by praising the “great fans … here in Carolina!” (Hey, these guys didn’t even have a hockey team a few years prior, so they really can’t give Bettman a hard time. Fans in Hartford — well, their opinions may differ…)
2004 – Tampa
You can actually hear the moment (0:38 of the video) when Gary Bettman – off-camera – steps out on to the ice… Aside from that, these fans were pretty polite. Newbies.
2003 – New Jersey
Some impressive control by these Devils fans. They cheer loudly and boo even louder. Watch as they switch back and forth during Bettman’s speech. Mention the Devils’ third cup win: Cheer. Talk about ownership: Boo. These fans have it buttoned down like a Jacques Lemaire neutral-zone trap.
Don’t think that this is just a new thing… let’s go way back to 1995:
1995 – In New Jersey:
The home team Devil fans, despite winning their first cup, find the hatred and vitriol to boo Bettman in the midst of their celebration.
Of course, this could have been some motivation for that anger. Bettman, then rumored to be supportive of a possible Devils move to Nashville, does a mid-game interview surrounded by fans chanting a variety of well-orchestrated derisive chants.
Don’t worry, Mr. Bettman. Just as the pain and anguish of being booed by the fans of the very league you run begins to wane, keep in mind that the Entry Draft is right around the corner…
Follow Josh on Twitter – @joshsmith29