"Air Canada is a great brand, as is the National Hockey League. And if they decide they need to do other things with their sponsorship dollars, that's their prerogative, just like it's the prerogative of our clubs that fly on Air Canada to make other arrangements if they don't think Air Canada is giving them the appropriate level of service." – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, March 10, 2011, in response to a threat by Air Canada to pull a multi-million dollar sponsorship.
I have a rule not to write a post about something that pisses me off for at least twenty-four hours. It’s now been over forty-eight hours and the anger I have over the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty will not go away. In fact, my anger has risen to the level I have for people like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Chairman of the Board of National Organization For Marriage Maggie Gallagher.
There is only one way this anger will go away. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has to go.
On Tuesday night, on the anniversary of Todd Bertuzzi’s assault on Steve Moore, I was horrified to learn that Pacioretty had suffered a broken neck and a severe concussion, eerily similar injuries that ended Moore’s career. Some people, such as NHL lackey Mike Murphy, believe the above photo is from “a hockey play” and that Chara is not a dirty player because he doesn’t have a record of disciplinary action.
I once knew a guy in high school who didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was a wonderful guy to talk to whenever I ran into him at one of what seemed like a hundred weekend parties. After we graduated, we went our separate ways. I went to college and got my degree. The student I bumped into at parties? He murdered and is on death row awaiting his fate. To the best of my knowledge, he didn’t have a criminal record before he committed his crime.
Come to think of it, WWE wrestler Chris Benoit had a clean record before he and his family checked out too.
Now I’m not saying Chara is a killer, but to say he didn’t mean to hurt Pacioretty because he’s got a clean record is a load of what’s in the bottom of Chara’s shorts. I played hockey in a beer league in what wasn’t the safest of rinks. The boards had no give. The ice in the corner of the arena where the Zamboni was kept wasn’t level near the boards. There was Plexiglass on only part of the rink and the rest was covered in netting. There were divots in the ice from the figure skaters that used the rink during normal business hours. We only played a twenty-game season but by the fourth or fifth game every player could point out the dangerous places in the rink and changed their play accordingly to avoid serious injury.
As for Bettman, his public posturing to major sponsors and his handing of the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes proves he runs a garage league that quite frankly doesn’t deserve a national TV contract, let alone struggling franchises in the Sun Belt. Moving existing franchises to non-traditional markets was a mistake from the beginning and telling us that poor ownership is the problem doesn’t work. The Leafs have horrible owners and yet they still make money. The Pittsburgh Penguins were in and out of bankruptcy more times than Elizabeth Taylor has been married and yet they survived the darkness that was 70s and 80s.
It’s time to get rid of Bettman and find a real leader who can elevate the NHL so it’s at least on level ground with the NBA rather than re-runs of the PBA on ESPN Classic. I don’t buy Chara’s excuses, and I don’t care for the NHL’s disciplinarians that are ruining the game – and I’m sure the casual hockey fan shares my view.
Two games if you make misogynist comments about Elisha Cuthbert but none for a broken neck? Give me a break, but not in my fourth cervical vertebrae, okay?