Gary Bettman: The Fool On The NHL Hill

By Harry Dole


With their off-Broadway performance last night, the NHL is giving the real Broadway Blues a run for their money. Travis Zajac – USA TODAY SPORTS


With NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman quivering in his expensive business suit after yet another breakdown in player/owner negotiations, new sorely needed melodrama has been injected into NHL Lockout 12, which was becoming as stale as green moldy bread.  At this point, it is mostly about keeping the hockey fans interested, whose apathy is accelerating faster than a runaway train descending down a steep Canadian Rockies mountainside.

If one is to believe Bettman’s latest little tizzy, the owners’ lead miniature muppet is “disappointed beyond belief.”  You know, my heart really bleeds for the thirty billionaire owners he represents.  The fact that they displayed such unprofessionalism by being personally offended on a business matter, really makes my heart ache.

To make them feel better, what should fans do for all those poor guys who were extremely offended by NHLPA Chief Donald Fehr and his comments about how much ground the two sides had covered in recent negotiations?  Should we take up a collection and buy the owners a state of the art cellphone for X-mas, so the next time they reject the NHLPA’s offer via voicemail, they can do it in top style?

I hope the easily manipulated fans are enjoying all this staged melodrama – bad acting and all.  I am.  Actually, some of the amateur thespians involved in this production are not too awful, since we have all seen a lot worse.  The NHL can probably milk this performance for another day or so, before fans teleport back to no-interest mode.  Has a significant buzz been created for the league’s next performance?  Only time will tell.

The main purpose for this latest off-Broadway public relations fiasco was to emotionally polarize the sheep fanbase, who are grazing around in a slumber without hockey.  The league is desperately trying to paint the players as uncooperative, greedy, spoiled, ungrateful, petty or whatever other negative characteristic can help raise the public’s ire against the union.  The owners tactics are not only obvious and transparent, but extremely reprehensible. The No Hockey League is quickly morphing into the Bad Faith League.

People have to realize the old rich guys club who owns the professional hockey teams have a history of destroying labor rights; not only in the NHL, but also in their other business ventures as well.  Before annihilating the NHLPA and pummeling them into submission, the owners need the support of the ignorant and brain-dead fanbase.  What more effective way to do this than to foster public animosity against the union?  As usual, the owners are trying to exploit the fans for their own selfish needs.

It is imperative the NHLPA stay firm and not get played by the owners’ ridiculously embarrassing and insulting antics.  If the players cave, they not only risk losing vital labor rights for many years to come, they also risk losing the respect of fans whose IQ is a bit higher than Meltdown MuppetMan’s height in inches.  As for the impressionable fans who have been hoodwinked by the owners’ little games, there is no cure for such stupidity.

A couple of months ago, CBC hockey analyst Don Cherry stated, “I have some advice for the players. Quit tweeting and talking to the media about how bad Bettman and the owners are.”

Sorry, but I disagree 110% (+10% for Bettman) with Cherry’s very old school advice, which only benefits the owners.  The players need to continue tweeting and talking and cutting into Bettman and the owners as much as possible, until this matter is resolved to the players’ satisfaction.  The only way to respond to a bunch of crap being shoveled on you, is to shovel it right back.  If the players shut their mouths now, they may just as well shut them forever.

Obviously, Cherry is accustomed to being buried in the fertilizer.  While coaching for the Bruins, the Canadiens shoveled enough of it onto him.

After Bettman’s desperado performance, NHL’s #2 Bill Daly chimed in about the league willing to die on the hill (for player contracts term limits).  For some reason, I keep hearing this song, “The Fool On The Hill,” by some Liverpool quartet known as the Beatles.

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