With the Alex Burrows-Stephane Auger scandal fresh on Al Gore's invention, and the recent FSN-Pittsburgh-Pens-Flyers-replay scandal only days old, we at Bettman's Nightmare want to assure you we knew this day would come, when we would have to let you in on the secret: this is all part of the Master Plan. You see, we combined our powers for the purpose of opposing this Master Plan. But now, we need your help.
As some of you know, Gary Bettman came over from the NBA, after an unsuccessful crusade to push NBA teams and licensed products towards keeping short shorts.
We thought he was brought here by the league, but could it be? A basketball guy?
Or was he sent here?
He came here with an obvious distaste for the physicality of the game, and a desire for shorter breezers that never got off the cutting-room floor. He empowered referees with the authority to pump up clutch-and-grab penalties. He incorporated a virtual charity stripe in the form of the shootout. He expanded to markets in much warmer climes, at the detriment of the "land of hockey," Canada. And now, he wants to ban fighting.
If you're a parent, this might be the best time to put the children to sleep.
He wants hockey to become basketball.
Now, of course, you're balking at this idea, but do you remember what it was like pre-Bettman? We had such great superstars, and no I'm not talking about Gretzky and Lemieux, I'm talking about Bob Probert, Kevin Stevens, Brendan Shanahan, and Gary Roberts.
These guys were the Gordie Howe hat trick on 'roids. Nowadays, we are a little surprised to see a Howe Trick, because it is usually a goon that does it. But remember these guys?
Probie is a bit more goonish than the rest, but he did have one amazing, 29-goal, 62-point, 398 PIM season in 1987-88, and he was fairly good with the puck during his career. Stevens and Shannie? The only two players with the fabled 50-goal, 50-assist, 100-point, 200 PIM season. Granted, Shannie did it in 1993-94, but I like to think Gary's Master Plan needed to lay dormant for a couple of seasons. And Gary Roberts, Oh Gary! Let's just say he has spawned Chuck Norris, kick-ass comparisons (and is the owner of a 50-goal, 200 PIM season himself); and when he jumps in water, he doesn't get wet; the water gets Gary.
The amazing combination of power, skill, and truculence has never translated to the Bettman Era. There was some excitement about the abilities of Daniel Carcillo, Scott Hartnell, David Clarkson, and David Backes to reach this level, but none have really gotten close to the production of PSSR. In fact, the one player that has that kind of potential, Alex Burrows, seems to be under fire. What a koinky-dink!
Now, the recent controversies are a fraying of the Bettman Plan. Empowering the referees leaves them looking for more; they want to make the goal decisions, thus we have the tyrannical overthrow of that fabled NHL tradition, goal-judging. And how many goal calls have been absolutely fucked up since then? And how many by the problems of camera angles and (in the case of FSN, ugh) corruption? The power of "intent to blow" extends that even further, to the area of absurd interpretation based on what the refs wished they had done in the first place. Or even wished they had done but wasn't legal for them to do.
So the next time you look at the trapezoid and realize it makes the end of the rink as toxic to goalies as the paint is for NBA centers, remember what was said here. When you start to sweat upon realizing that some of these rinks double as arenas for basketball courts, pop in your tape of the '91 Cup Finals, wait out your hysteria, and drop us a line. Never forget that the Trick Shot Challenge at the All-Star Game, which (god forbid) I happen to like, is basically a Slam Dunk Contest.
And we'll be here for you.