Pay No Attention to the NHL Commissioner Behind the Podium and His “Apology”

By Krista Golden
He’s not Sandra Dee, but he’s lousy with insincerity. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I was on the road when the NHL’s press conference started, so I got home just in time to follow along on Twitter. After about a minute, I was rolling my eyes and muttering things under my breath. Had I actually tuned in to the livestream, I would’ve given it the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment. It was probably on the same terrible level as Manos: The Hands of Fate.

It was bad enough that Jeremy Jacobs showed up to basically be Gary Bettman’s opening act, but I guess that was expected. After all, he is Bettman’s biggest yes man among the owners. I cringed when he said he was sorry, because my “chock full o’ 100% pure cow chips” meter was pinging rather loudly. That was also expected.

And then there was good ol’ Gary, all contrite and apologetic. At least it wasn’t one of those shallow “faux-pologies” that begin with “If I offended anyone/if anyone was hurt by my words/actions, I apologize.” That’s blatantly insincere. But the solemn way Bettman gave his “apology” was, in the words of Vice President Joe Biden, a bunch of malarkey.

First of all, apology not accepted. I can’t be the only one who was offended by just those words alone. Bettman’s conduct before and during the lockout was childish and unbecoming the head of a major sports league. Oh, he’s sorry that the lockout happened? He’s the one who said it was inevitable before the players ever presented their first proposal. He’s not sorry he put fans through this nightmare or that he caused a lot of layoffs and financial hardships on people. He’s only sorry he didn’t break the players and make them turn on Donald Fehr.

Second, he made it clear that he’s not resigning or otherwise losing his job. I guess that was a big middle finger to all of us, fans and journalists alike, who demanded that he get a big fat pink slip. It goes right along with his “Who cares, this is all about me” attitude toward the fans when they boo him consistently. He loves living in his sycophantic world, and our puny boos will never rain on his self-centered parade.

Lastly, he said he’s read the blogs, tweets and articles. Oh, I sincerely hope he did. I hope he read every blessed tweet calling him a name or two (the Iron Sheik’s come to mind) and read every negative thing anyone wrote about him. I hope he read my articles in particular, because I told everyone just what kind of person he is. If that means I won’t be getting any holiday cards from him this year, so be it. I get enough junk mail as it is.

By the way, Bettman, tell us exactly how you’re going to make it up to the fans. Do not, under any circumstances, make a halfhearted attempt to patch things up between the league and them. It already sounds like he was caught without a plan when he wouldn’t tell what they had in mind. I have something in mind: free Center Ice, lower ticket prices, better interaction with players, cheaper merchandise. Oh dear, will that lower revenues? Sorry about that.

Look at that, my apology was as sincere and genuine as Gary Bettman’s was today.

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