Everyone got their hopes up this weekend when Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News wrotethat Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider could be a catalyst for brokering a deal between the NHL and the NHLPA. This sounded unbelievable: after all, Snider is one of commissioner Gary Bettman’s biggest supporters among the owners, other than Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs. For one of the owners to try bringing the two sides together when nothing else had worked…it seemed too good to be true.
Well, it was, in a way. Later that weekend, Snider issued a statement, saying that he fully supports Bettman and calling the report “erroneous”. He was backed up by Bettman, who went on the record with the Winnipeg Free Press on Monday and said that Seravalli’s story was a “fabrication” and that there is no dissent among the owners.
Right away, I smelled a rat. It would be one thing for Bettman to come out and discount the story, but Snider did that as well. Snider could be covering himself to stay in Bettman’s good graces, but I sincerely doubt that. Now, I’m no conspiracy theorist, but something very quickly started bubbling in my brain. What if this whole story was a ruse from the start?
Think about it: with the players calling out Bettman, things are looking bad for him and the league. The messages they’re sending are contrary to fact, which makes Bill Daly look like hockey’s version of Baghdad Bob. With that in mind, my theory is this:
Bettman and Daly caught a lot of criticism after their mention of a two-week moratorium on negotiations. The Snider story broke at the end of this week, when people had already had a good laugh at their expense over it. Perhaps it was Bettman’s idea to leak the mention of the moratorium and then send Snider off to leak the story of his alleged turn from heel to babyface. The story was fabricated, all right, but by Bettman and Snider, and it was done in the name of garnering sympathy for their side.
Before you point out the backpedaling, sit tight, I’m getting to that. The story is only the first part of their nefarious plan. Part Two involves what the internet calls “trolling”, in this case Bettman and Snider intentionally dashing everyone’s hopes for a resolution. Their two statements are the ultimate troll tactic, and watching reporters and players squirm gave them a sick satisfaction.
We’ll never know if this is true, because I for one can’t take most of what they say with any grain of truth these days. But if there’s any validity to my theory, it’ll cement for me the impression I have that Gary Bettman is borderline sociopathic and shouldn’t be in charge of pet adoptions much less a hockey league.