Bettman; NHL Rigged the Draft Lottery… Then Did a Terrible Job of Hiding It.

Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

Move over MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred. Another challenger has regained his positioning as worst commissioner in major league sports. His name? NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman.

After the lottery for the first overall pick in the NHL Draft occured Monday, Bettman overtook Manfred for the top (bottom?) spot. The New York Rangers “won” the first pick in the draft, likely landing consensus-number one pick, Alexis Lafreniere, and changing the entire outlook of their franchise..


While the NBA’s 1985 “frozen envelope” and 2005’s Sidney Crosby debacle are legendary rigged drafts, this one is in a league of its own. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing the NHL to move towards a strange way of determining their draft, incorporating multiple phases and including the qualifying round losers, this lottery took the strangeness to a whole new level.

Eight teams were eligible for the first overall selection. Yet the favorites to win it amongst conspiracy theorists, like myself, were the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Due to the NHL loving their big market teams, the Rangers needed some help and the Penguins need to maintain their winning ways with Golden Boy, Sidney Crosby.

Although optimism for the Wild to receive the pick were high, there was still skepticism among fans. Ranging from the sports gods never allowing a Minnesota team to get a first pick to the draft being rigged. While that is a lot of superstition, there may be some truth behind this one.


This lottery was just like your favorite government-run one. Each team’s ball was dropped into the cylindrical contraption after Bettman verified each logo. Yet when it came to the Ranger’s ball, the individual dropping the balls let it go early. Was it a slip or was the ball weighted?

Clearly, it was the latter. The Ranger’s ball created a slightly lower pitched noise. Emphasizing its weight difference from the other contender’s balls. What only made it worse was the Ranger’s ball actually coming out on top.

There is no verifiable truth to this…yet. However, I am absolutely buying into this draft being rigged for New York. Now, the Rangers can become a powerhouse team in the coming decade. Bettman, already an atrocious commissioner, is set to face even harsher criticism after this debacle. Hopefully this ends in his resignation and the Rangers getting a dud of a player in Lafreniere. Or at least he doesn’t live up to his potential until signing with Minnesota in free agency.

I guess the silver lining is the Wild receive the ninth pick in a ridiculously deep draft and have Kaprizov coming in next year. This builds hope for future success. But still, imagine what life as a Wild fan would have been like with both of them demoralizing the entirety of the league. It would be the State of Hockey’s wet dream.

Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan

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