Evolution over revolution, says Commissioner Gary Bettman

Leading change is an act of disruption – parts shift, old becomes new and it can be uncomfortable.

But what if there was a way to make revolution feel more like evolution? NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made this a reality through one of North America’s most traditional sports. Hockey has an unmatched history – there is no trophy more iconic than the Stanley Cup. Yet, Gary forged a new path for the league while preserving exactly what makes the game great.   

“I believe in evolution as opposed to revolution. The game is a living vibrant thing and you have to respect what it is. And what we have is great. But you have to stay current; you have to look for trends. We monitor the game very carefully to make sure the game is being played in a very exciting and entertaining and competitive way. And then, if the game is in good shape, what you do around it can represent tremendous opportunities to make the experience even better for more people.” –Gary Bettman

He found the perfect balance of past and future, of convention and modernism, of normalization and change. He revolutionized the game of hockey and how millions of fans view it – but if you ask him, he didn’t revolutionize anything. He simply evolved and developed the core essence of what has always been a tremendous organization.

“We’ve never strayed too far from our roots. It’s not only that we value our history and our traditions – we respect them. We think they’re some of our greatest strengths. I believe our players, as they grow up and become part of the game at the NHL level, have grown up with those values as well. We’re the most team-centric, as you have to be to be successful playing hockey, and that’s something that has translated very well. But at the same time, we wanted to make sure the game was as entertaining and as competitive as possible. Everything we try to do to make the game more accessible and give fans more reasons and more ways to connect with the game, we still go back to the fundamentals of what this great game is all about.” –Gary Bettman

Listen to my conversation with Gary on Extraordinary Happens. 

Lauren Grancio