Hi, how are you? After such an exciting season, I imagine you had an enjoyable, relaxing summer. Did you spend any time visiting this great country of ours? Meet any interesting people?
Oh, right. Sorry about that.
Anyhoo, while there are plenty of things you and I disagree about, I think you're a guy who gets bad rap; you're criticized for situations you don't even have control over. C'mon: It's not your fault some teams don't want to broadcast all 82 games, right?
The people deserve to get to know who the real Gary Bettman is. The husband. The father. The slayer of Persians.
I want to take this opportunity to invite you to join me at a game in the New York area at some point this season.
I'm not looking to bore you with my gripes about the NHL for three hours. I just want to enjoy a game of puck with the man who runs the show. We can throw back a few beers, point out cute Ice Girls, crack jokes about Patrick Kane Photoshops.
Gary Bettman and Sean Leahy, hanging out watching hockey. Let's make it happen.
(Ed. Note: For those fans on Twitter, please help make Sean Leahy's dream come true by Tweeting a short message of support to @NHL with the hash tag #leahymeetsbettman.)
With your offices in New York City and the palatial Leahy estate (thanks Yahoo!) located on Long Island, we've got ourselves two options with Madison Square Garden and Nassau Coliseum; maybe three if you're open to visiting the Prudential Center in Newark and possibly joining in on an eating contest with Devils television color man Chico Resch.
I'm sure you wouldn't want to be bothered with all the attention you might get sitting next to a part-time blogger for Yahoo! Sports. That's cool. I understand. I wouldn't want any residual beer droplets hitting me after they're aimed at you, either.
So, since you're the commissioner and all, I guess I can settle for spending a couple of hours with you inside a suite or luxury box at one of the three local, NHL arenas. Just be sure it's stocked with those twisty pretzels. Those are uber-delicious.
(Of course, depending on the visiting team in Newark or Long Island on the night we meet, we might have an entire section all to ourselves.)
If, for some reason, our hockey-related plans don't work out, there's always ...
Now, before you ignore this invitation and click on to your latest angry email from a fan about the NHL on Versus, please understand my intentions. I'm not looking to do an ambush interview here. I don't want to pick your brain about Jim Balsillie, Colin Campbell's "Wheel of Justice" or even whatever the hell is growing on Brian Engblom's head.
I want to know about the Gary Bettman away from the League offices and Phoenix courtrooms. Like so many other paying customers devoted to the NHL, I just want to find out why you love the game of hockey. Maybe you can be our next participant on our "5 Reasons" series?
Whattya say Gary? You don't have anything to lose and only everything to gain.
• • •
We here at Puck Daddy would really like to make this happen and are calling to arms our Puck Buddies from around the Internets to encourage Bettman to accept this invitation.
Maybe you'd like to give Commissioner Bettman's radio show a call this Thursday at 4 p.m. ET on XM Home Ice?
If you'd like to help out and use Twitter, tweet this post to the NHL's official page @NHL with the hash tag #leahymeetsbettman -- Let's hope Gary Bettman makes the right decision.
- Gary Bettman
- Sean Leahy