Gary Bettman met Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs for the first time in 1993, when Jacobs hosted a Board of Governors dinner at his home in Wellington, Florida. The event took place two nights before the 1993 election that named Bettman the NHL's first Commissioner. The trusted business relationship and close friendship between the two men has grown and flourished since.
Here Commissioner Bettman shares his thoughts on the qualities that now bring Jeremy Jacobs, a man he affectionately calls 'Jerry,' to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2017, elected in the Builder category, in a special testimonial for NHL.com:
Being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame is a long-overdue recognition of Jerry's commitment to Boston, to the Bruins, to the NHL and to building the game of hockey.
As chairman of the Board of Governors for the past decade, Jerry is a sounding board and is influential in supporting League initiatives. He and I talk multiple times a week.
[RELATED: For Jacobs, Hall of Fame may be ultimate honor | Bruins legend Sinden happy for Jacobs]
When working with Jerry, you understand that you 'do your homework' and thoroughly understand whatever issue you are dealing with. Then, you do what you think is right.
Jerry's life revolves around his family and the Bruins -- who certainly are a part of his family. He has owned the Bruins since 1975 and is the longest-serving Governor in the League -- and he never misses a League meeting or a Bruins game, whether in person or on television. He is known for watching as much hockey as any general manager. Jerry knows all aspects of the business of sports, but that's almost secondary to how knowledgeable he is about the game of hockey itself.
When I first met him, I immediately realized Jeremy was someone who was extraordinarily well-respected by his partners, someone extraordinarily knowledgeable and passionate about the game.
During his more than 40 years of NHL involvement, Jerry evolved with the times. A great example of his forward thinking and vision: In 2015, he commissioned "The Future of Sports," a study of sports in the eyes of "futurists," tech professionals and sports industry leaders, in an attempt to project the sports landscape over the next 25 years.
And while he constantly thinks about the future, Jeremy has great respect for hockey history. After the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup, I gave him two framed Bruins scoresheets -- the first from his date of birth (Jan. 21, 1940), the second from the Bruins' first game after his purchase of the team (Oct. 9, 1975). Both were Bruins losses (a 4-2 road defeat against the New York Rangers in 1940, a 9-4 Boston Garden loss to the Montreal Canadiens in 1975). I knew he would appreciate the historical significance, even though the scoresheets commemorated losses. His response was: "This is unbelievable." The scoresheets hang in his office today.
One last note: The Bruins are an Original Six franchise, in a city with great fans, and could function -- and do well -- under any League structure. But Jerry has always focused on the importance of a strong League with strong teams.
And, with that kind of "focus," he certainly deserves Hall of Fame "Builder" recognition.