Before I get to the meat of the post, an apology on the spam taking over our forums. We’ve addressed it, we think we’ve taken the steps to prevent it from happening again. Stick with us, we’ll get it right.
Ok, usually we like to run pictures with every post. Looks nice and all. But I just couldn’t bring myself to look at Gary Bettman right now. It’s been mentioned a little last night and some today, but the Commish’s appearance at the Hall of Fame Ceremony was nothing short of sickening.
I know, it would have looked awkward for the commissioner to not be at his league’s Hall induction. But that absence would have been washed over by the occasion. No one would worry about Gary being absent while Joe Sakic or Adam Oates or Mats Sundin were giving their speeches. It would have passed seamlessly.
But Gary couldn’t have that.
Not only could Gary not have that, but he had to speak. While I get that it’s customary for someone holding his job title to address the gathering at one of the league’s most hallowed events, sometimes circumstances get in the way. Having the head of the Hall of Fame or a different emcee would have been more than acceptable.
And to make the ultimate middle finger to anyone associated with the game, Gary’s speech mentioned “the dark times we’re in now.” As if the league had been waylaid by a tsunami or earthquake or outbreak of plague amongst its players that was keeping it from operating. As if it was something we just had to all pull together to get through.
The amount of tone-deafness here is utterly staggering. No responsibility, no humility, no common sense. Not only did Betts think he was utterly indispensable to on occasion he could only sully, but that is was fine if he could use it — however briefly — as another stage to make a point. And to say that the league is in “dark times” makes it seem like it has nothing to do with him for being so. As if this was done to him as much as it was to us.
No one is bigger than the sport, no matter how much he may try and convey that or bend and break it to his will (which he hasn’t really been able to do in his near 20 years in charge anyway). But this was an attempt to be so. It couldn’t go on without him, that was the message within Gary’s skewed mind. Does he even know where reality is any more? And by speaking, he made it impossible to ignore all the toxins and anger that surrounds the game right now. No one could have one night to just remember some of the things that are and were great about the NHL.
Contrast that with Don Fehr refusing to talk to the press and leaving early so as to avoid yet another media horde. While Fehr isn’t blameless in all this, he at least knows where these fights and tactics belong. And that wasn’t last night. But then again, Fehr has something of a grip on how the world works.
You wonder how a deal will ever get done when not only is the main man so deluded, but he thinks he is the NHL, and the NHL is him. Everything then becomes a referendum on him, not on the league. No wonder Fehr has twisted him into bits, because it’s easy to threaten someone with an ego so large.