Up in the NHL Executive "Ivory Tower" suite in Phoenix, right about now, you just KNOW that Gary "Penguin from Batman" Bettman is pacing back and forth, and wearing a groove into the crystal flooring. This is where the supposed "intellectual" decisions are made.
Bill "Lackey" Daly sits, watching him, and listening to the penguin, as they plot out a strategy. The air, last night, was let out of their collective sails. He looks more like Lurch, of Addams Family Fame. He also looks disapointed.
Judge Redfeild T. Baum, who has a great "judge" name, let them know, that they in fact, do not control the universe. He let them know, that much like an NHL game, The Phoenix Coyotes would be contested for, on a level playing feild. Redfeild took the reins back, that he so eagerly gave up previously. The NHL was not to decide who they would install as head puppet, to quietly lose money, for favors in other regards.
Money, however, would. An open and fair Auction, also would. This was bad, bad news for the Commish.
Jim "Bruce Wayne" Balsillie, also at this moment, is sitting down in the batcave, blackberry in hand, and cracks a bottle of champagne. His butler brings him in updates, on his money, which, given the whole blackberry thing, is growing as fast as corn in Nebraska. Money, is not actually an object. 900 million, and this guy would barely be uncomfortable. Ballsy could actually buy the NHL, at this point. He may still, if he has to.
And that too, scares the hell out of the NHL, and its Gestapo of ownership reps.
"An open auction?" asks the butler, Alfred.
"Yup." says Ballsy, "Hockey does not belong in the sun belt." It belongs in Canada. That franchise was ours to begin with." He stares intently at the goings on in the ivory palace on his blackberry, using the "BathiddenCam app". He is somewhat serious, somewhat amused.
"Hockey does not belong in the sun belt"
It is this fact and this line is what you see the Penguin frantically trying to hide from. The NHL, south of the 40th paralell is not a success. He wanted it there, he moved it there, and he will look bad if he admits it has been an abject failure. He fumbles with his umbrella, and talks to himself. Millions at this point have been lost in these southern franchises. He seems to care little, if at all. Its his agenda, that MUST be pushed. Gary is losing it, and looking bad publicly.
"All these fans...they drive me crazy. All I hear is Saskatoon this, Winnipeg that. And Hamilton. The NHL will be in Hamilton over my dead body!" He stares at the half asleep lackey, sitting off to the side. This is "old hat" to the lackey, and he is eagerly napping, and trying to think of his next biased statement to the press in regards to the NHL board of Governers position. They dont want to ever admit failure, and they dont want Balsillie. He hears Gary go on like this every day. Gary is "mad" with the idea of failure, and high on his "lofty" position of power.
"Dont they know that Jerry would make a great owner of this team. Dont they get what all 78 of our fans in Phoenix get? Hockey must expand into the Sunbelt!! Why can't these millions understand what we do Bill? Why do they not take to it like Canadians and Northern Climate located Americans?"
In the background, on the television, is a rerun of an old Star Trek Movie. Spock looks at the camera and says....
"The needs of many, outweigh the needs of a few"
"Bah!!!" the Penguin says, as he throws the remote at the lackey. "Get rid of that crap! Do your job, and put it on Hockey!"
"Yes Sir," Bill Lackey says, "Right away Sir." He begins to flip the channels, over and over again. Finding none. "Ummm...Sir?" He has gone through 250 satellite channels, and found nothing. Its as if the people of Phoenix do not care about hockey.
"What is it??" the Penguin replies
"Well, ummm, we are in Phoenix. The closest thing they have to hockey here is Roller Hockey, on only once every three months. They barely know what it is."
"Well why is that? Give me that thingy...Our PR people are doing a terrible job, that HAS to be the problem." The Penguin fumbles with the remote. "You have got to be kidding me!" He throws the remote at the wall, busting it into a million pieces, frustrated. "You mean these people do not watch hockey on every station, and on every sports broadcast? They do not care about it, in the off season, or otherwise??? Roller Hockey? They do not watch Roller Hockey? Why, even Roller Hockey is superior to the NFL, MLB, and NBA. We have the greatest product in the world!"
"Well, it is summer." Says the Lack quietly. He is not sure what to think of the insanity that the penguin shows, on a "Daly" basis.
"So what?? TSN and Sportsnet in Canada, cover every detail, usually ahead of every other sport on the planet. They love Hockey up there. They cover every signing, and every transaction, with about 20 reporters each!"
"Oh ya?" Lack says quietly, under his breath... "Well then why dont you want a franchise in Hamilton?"
The Penguin looks over sharply...
"Bill,are you being smart with me?"
"No Sir, Heavens No! I look forward to sitting and coming to a reasonable conclusion on this issue...The NHL is pleas..." he is reeling...
"OK, knock it off with the legal mumbo jumbo Bill! I am not the media. I am not the "simpleton" fans, like in Hamilton, who obviously do not know what is best for them. I control what is best for hockey."
"Yes Sir, Sorry Sir." Bill goes back to mindlessly flipping channels, and stops on a re run, of Pee Wee's Playhouse. He seems amused, and truth be told, has seen this one before, 5 times. He laughs at the over acted style of Paul Ruebens with such gusto, that he eventually begins to not even notice the Penguin, pacing and muttering to himself. He could, and does routinely stay here for hours. This is quality entertainment, to this "Intellect" of the NHL exec's. There is no hockey on, and no mention of it on any radio station or tv channel.
But...The Penguin, on the other hand, keeps going talking out loud, and missing his favorite show.
"I have put succesful franchises, in Atlanta, Columbus, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Florida. All of them have season ticket commitments of at least 350 people each! What is all this about? Hockey is a raving success every where it goes, and I am the ambassador. They have lost millions, but, so what. I dont want to look bad! I actually was thinking a team in Mexico City next! Maybe Chile after that...The "Chile Peppers"...cant you see it Bill? That might get us mainstream USA sports coverage, even though ESPN barely even knows our name, or mentions what we do...
Today the Sun belt, tomorrow The World!!!" He cackles out loud, looking up through his monocle. (He only wears it at night, off camera)
"Hmm...Maybe I should have Balsillie kidnapped. Maybe I should have another league wide, heavily influenced vote, on another owner, that has more money than Reisdorf. Hmmm.... Maybe the NHL could run the franchise. I simply will NOT EVER give up, and admit that I was wrong! I simply cannot have a successful franchise in a Hockey Hotbed, with millions of fans. We HAVE to be in the sunbelt!!! We have to make these southern Americans, love this game that they do not know, or like, at all in mass quantity. This way those who love the Coyotes are free to cheer, and show up. We can keep giving the tickets away to the other 600 people who do not even know what they are watching. We can keep announcing attendance figures that are inflated by 5000 percent. The Coyotes can keep losing Millions...It is working fine!!!" He shouts, just as he collapses, breathing heavy, sweating, and clutching his chest. This startles the imbecile, his Lackey, Bill Daly into action....
"Gary...Gary?" Lackey shouts as he springs accross the room like a mad cossack.
In the meantime, "Bruce Wayne", watches, interested, through the blackberry, at the scene with Bill and the Commish. He laughs out loud, as he takes another sip of expensive champagne, and kisses his beautiful trophy wife. He changes apps, and looks at the screen.
"Hmm, another 5 million, deposited into my account...Well, I always did like money!" He sneers, and shuts off the blackberry for the night. He gets into bed, and dreams of "little money sugarplum fairies dancing about in his head"
Up in Canada, where people actually care, we continue to watch. Hopeful, that we do in fact, rip hockey back, and keep it where it belongs. Hockey Markets like Detroit, New York, Philly, Chicago, Minny, and in Canada, hold their collective breath. This is a northern thing. US fans get it too, in the markets that love hockey.
Arizona, and Florida, simply put are not one of them.
I would not say that we want it over the Penguins dead body. However, over his unemployed body, along with the lackey, will do just fine. Leave your resignations on the desk, when you check out, prior to 11 am.
Hamilton! Hamilton! Hamilton!