July 09, 2008
Now that Gary Bettman decided to step in just as Kevin Lowe of the Edmonton Oilers was trying to pull Brian Burke's Anaheim Ducks jersey over his head -- the "Poochie" to their Itchy and Scratchy, according to the great Earl Sleek -- NHL general managers are going to have to rethink their snarky hate tactics.
Let's face it, calling a guy "a moron" because he called your team "dirty bastards" is Neanderthalic; why not just hit each other over the head with mammoth femurs until you both get bored and try to discover fire?
No, the best comeuppance in big business is through unspoken, but rather obvious, corporate revenge. Like the downfall of Gordon Gecko in "Wall Street," even if Charlie Sheen got pinched in the end (spoiler!). That's why the sudden feud between Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis (currently waiting on Mats Sundin, like the rest of us) and St. Louis Blues President John Davidson is so deliciously snarky.
To recap: The Canucks inked Blues RFA forward David Backes, 24, to a three-year $7.5 million offer sheet; the same Vancouver franchise that cried to the heavens when Bobby Clarke tried to raid Ryan Kesler by the same means. Davidson figured Vancouver might tender an offer sheet. "They offered a trade. The offer was like a Volkswagen for a Porsche. It didn't make any sense at all ... not even close to being sensible," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, adding that the Blues' matching the offer was an indication that "we're not going to get pushed around by another organization."
Vancouver traded two draft picks to the Buffalo Sabres on July 4 for the rights to RFA Steve Bernier, a 23-year-old forward who came to Buffalo in the Brian Campbell trade. Yesterday, the Blues signed Bernier to a one-year offer sheet whose financial terms ($2.5 million per season) were nearly identical to the Backes contract. Which is a real punk rock thing to do.
Vancouver quickly matched the Blues' offer, and the two front offices fired soft bullets through the media. "It is what it is ... They made an offer sheet on a player we traded for that we really like and we matched it," Gillis told the Vancouver Province. "We came out very aggressively and did a lot of homework and targeted a player we like ... We've been aggressive and they [Blues] have been aggressive."
And Davidson? "If they didn't match, we would have had a good hockey player on our club," he told the Post-Dispatch. "Now we're back to the drawing board. I'm dead serious. ... Every day we're looking."
Now that's how you have a general managers' feud: With open checkbooks and a sneer through a smile. And then you leave it to writers like Brad Lee from St. Louis Game Time to run their comments through the GM Translator 2000 EZ machine to see what they really meant to say. This exchange was so snarky, the machine actually caught on fire.