March 09, 2011
Meaning Gary Bettman and Bill Daly, of course.
Bettman met the media before the game; spoke to arena and team employees; spoke to the Coyotes; offered an update on NHL Network; and then spoke to Coyotes fans between periods on FOX Sports Arizona. His total talk time on the air was well over an hour, and included such Bettman classics as:
"You like to talk in cryptic things that only you know about."
"I'm not the issue for the Goldwater Institute."
"They haven't sued. Which is fascinating."
"There's no blinking going on here. The blinking would be if I set a deadline."
"Since when does anything get unanimous approval?"
In his primary news conference, it was the testy Bettman; the one Ron MacLean usually sees on Hockey Night In Canada after his fifth question about a struggling U.S. market. The crux of his ire: The Goldwater Institute using what he termed as a rare form of pressure on the bond market, "clouding" and "chilling" it with the threat of litigation against the City of Glendale.
As he spelled out time and time and time again: Bonds sell, Matthew Hulsizer buys the team, Coyotes remain a tenant of Jobing.com Arena. And then, according to Bettman: "I believe that with proper ownership that this franchise will be fine. ... I believe that this franchise will do fine."
If they don't sell ... well, why do you think the Winnipeg Free Press covered the hell out of this Bettman visit to Glendale?
There are two ways to look at this moment for the NHL and Gary Bettman. The first is that you'll have to pry a struggling U.S. market from his prideful clutches, as he steadfastly refuses to see one of his Sun Belt teams flutter back to Canada. They've fought this long for the Coyotes. They've worked their asses off. These are not men who fancy defeat. One word, sounds like "Shmockout."
But the second is that should Bettman place pride aside here, he has a legitimate cover story if the Coyotes have to leave. Something doesn't frame this as the NHL's failure.
The NHL went to court, bought the team, owned it, operated it, facilitated its sale to a party willing to keep it in Glendale, and then through the actions of a politically motivated group and the local bureaucracy (and the dreaded economy), the deal fell apart. Tragedy for the city, tragedy for the fans, yadda yadda ... but the NHL did everything it could.
Whether that's the right version of the story or not, couldn't you see it becoming gospel?
Coming up, Bettman's three televised appearances from Glendale, including a squirmy bout with the media that featured oodles of head bobbing and Gary getting his lawyer on.
Here's Gary Bettman vs. the media at the arena before the game. The Q&A session will anger you, no matter what your loyalties are:
Here's Bettman on NHL Network, speaking with David Amber:
Here's Bettman between periods on FOX Sports Arizona, putting to bed the notion that this deal can be restructured yet again: "I don't know if there's willingness from Matt Hulsizer or the City of Glendale to restructure, or the ability from a timing standpoint."
Bettman refuses to put a deadline on when the Coyotes' sale will happen, because it would signal to the enemies of the sale that all they have to do is wait it out.
How Rumsfeldian of him. You know, in thinking of other recent quagmires in the desert.