The beleaguered Haitian government announced plans today to redirect $1 million from its treasury to the National Hockey League, identifying the NHL's need after the league donated only $100,000 to Haitian relief efforts far short of the $1 million or more given by the other three major professional sports.
“When we learned what the NHL was able to donate, we thought, ‘Wow, times must be really tough’,” said Jalbert Riel, a spokesperson for President René Préval. “Luckily, we’ve been blessed with a wonderful outpouring of generosity from across the globe, so we thought it was time to give something back.”
The donation comes as welcome relief for the NHL, which has long suffered under the weight of a shoddy national television deal and near-constant criticism from the general public surrounding hockey’s violent nature. The recent elimination of DirecTV subscribers from its potential viewership and the continued dwindling attendance figures of its teams in the Southern United States means the donation could not come at a better time for the league.
The Haitian government does not have any preference as to how the money would be spent. Riel said that it is “really up to them. They could give it to that team in Phoenix, put it towards marketing efforts, or even use it as an incentive to hire a real commissioner. But from our perspective, the gift comes with no strings attached.”
In a brief statement, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league would be accepting the donation “begrudgingly, but with gratitude.”
The commissioner is also reportedly considering using the money to purchase Television Nationale D'Haiti (TNH) and making it the exclusive broadcast partner of the NHL.