Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gary Bettman is a Diabolical Madman Who Must be Stopped Part 2

The continuing story of a misfit turned commissioner of the Nationa Hockey League. If you haven't yet checked out Part 1 of this saga, you should do so.

Today the NHLPA and the league met again, and once the short meeting was over, both sides took to the media to explain why there is still no CBA yet. Twitter was abuzz with sound bytes from Gary Bettman. As the Tweets came in, I found myself getting angrier and angrier with each one. It was like getting punched again and again, only instead of being hit with a fist, I was being hit with a concentrated ball of stupid and bullshit. Let's get started, shall we?

I guess that's why the NHLPA's counter offer was just a white sheet of printer paper with the words "NEW CBA: EXACTLY LIKE THE OLD CBA, SIGNED THE PLAYERS" in crayon, right? Why won't you acknowledge the fact that the NHLPA offered up an interesting and thoughtful counter offer that contained a lot of stuff you didn't like. Hell, you basically did admit that after they made their offer, and now you're back peddling. 

I'm not saying that the players don't have concessions to make; I've been explicit that they do. However Bettman seems completely unwilling to accept any responsibility on behalf of the league to make concessions and compromise. It just reeks of hypocrisy, a motif of the league during these CBA talks, that you negotiate from a position of complete immobility and a refusal to compromise and then publicly accuse the other side of operating under a near identical negotiation strategy and blame them for the gridlock.

This is at least partially positive. It sounds like perhaps the league is willing to increase the level of revenue sharing among teams, which is definitely progress. But Bettman's inability to understand why there's so much focus on revenue sharing either shows him to be an idiot or a liar. This would almost be the same as Donald Fehr coming out and claiming, "We don't understand why the league is focusing so much on player salaries". 

It's sort of a major sticking point for the other side, Gary. And you know that. So again, you're ether lying when you say you don't understand why there's so much focus on revenue sharing, or you're just dense. Either way, you have no business being in a position of authority. Despite what our political process in this country tries to each us, people who are stupid and dishonest should not be in charge of making decisions.They should be used as fodder to embarrass us on reality television shows.


Roughly how I felt
Really, guy? Let's go down the list and see where we're at here: Shea Weber, $14 million, Zach Parise, $12 million, Ryan Suter, $12 million, Sidney Crosby, $12 million. Some of the largest, most lucrative contracts ever in the history of the NHL were signed this season. They were signed by the teams you're representing, Gary.

I understand the flip side to this argument: that if they didn't offer those players those monster contracts, then they would have lost those players to other teams who would have offered them those contracts. That's very explicitly true in Shea Weber's case because that's exactly what almost happened to Nashville. I'm not absolving the players of their responsibility here. They're culpable to the salary situation, but so are the teams.  There's something to be said when a guy like Jiri Hudler can get $4 million dollars a year. Maybe the money needs to be scaled back a tad. 

"Hi Craig!" Photo Credit: Hanna Foslein -Getty Images
But if that's one reasonable point for the league, there's still a dozen reasonable points being made by the NHLPA. Perhaps the league needs to take an Alcoholic Anonymous' approach and come out and admit they have a problem. "Hi, my name is Craig Leopold and I'm a Signing Players to Giant Contracts While Simultaneously Complaining About the Size of Player Contracts Addict, and I need help"

I think it's safe to say that for the most part, I'm on the side of the players. I feel that they are the most integral part to the whole sports-fan dynamic that they should be getting the biggest pieces of the pie. That being said, I do try to objectively look at what's on the table and I try my best to consider positions from both sides to these CBA negotiations. I recognize that if the teams are completely hosed, it also makes having a league almost impossible. Since my goal is just to be able to watch hockey, I try to keep a level head. Then I read stuff like this.


I was beside myself with anger when I saw that comment. I just kind of stared at my computer screen in awe. The kind of mentality on display by that comment is akin to the kind of mentality that's on display by a husband who just beat the shit out of his wife. Am I trying to say that angry hockey fans who might miss out on a season are as bad off as the victim of domestic violence? Yes No, I'm not. I'm talking about the mentality of the abuser.

Bettman apparently thinks that he can abuse the fans and then make it all better by telling us how great we are. No, you can't beat someone and tell them the dinner they cooked was delicious. It doesn't make everything okay. It doesn't forgive the abuse. It doesn't heal the scars, whether they be physical or mental, that you have inflicted upon us. All it does is make it explicitly clear that we are in this relationship for entirely different reasons. We are in this relationship for reasons that are based on love and dedication and passion, and you are in this relationship for reasons that are hurtful, destructive and selfish.

I think what this comes down to is simple. When I attend a Red Wings game, or buy Red Wings memorabilia, or when you get ad revenue from my watching the Red Wings on TV, I thought the money I was spending was to pay the players, the officials and the people at the arenas and operating the television equipment. Because they are the ones who provide me with world class hockey entertainment, customer service and hockey commentary (except for Pierre McGuire). 

I didn't realize that my money went to pay Gary Bettman to be an abusive asshole. 

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