We here at MYFO try rarely to be serious about things. We bring the funny. But there are times, such as now, where we stare at a piece of news and can find no humorous slant to take on it, because it’s just infuriating. This summer, we will be introducing a series of Open Letters to personalities around the NHL. As always, much love and respect to the artist formerly known as I Party With Smoot for the artwork. Today, we introduce the first in that series, an Open Letter to Gary Bettman.
It would seem you have a bit of a problem on your hands these days. The select group of people in this world who are fortunate enough to own a top-level professional North American hockey team are, shockingly enough (insert Drudge Siren here), a group of circle-jerking frat boys. The problems are coming at you fast and furious, and to be honest? I don’t even know where to begin. For the sake of my own sanity, though, we’ll take the most egregious screw-up last.
We’ll start, then, with the downright silly: The Rangers debacle. Gary, how in the name of all that is holy do you let this happen? For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, which probably includes you, Gary, Newsday has a tidy little recap. Now, to be fair, Newsday is owned by the offending party here, but the fact pattern remains the same. The NHL has a web vision to shape their site after the NFL and MLB, in that all the sites for the individual teams are run by the league and all link to the league’s main site. Somehow, you’ve managed to be the only commissioner to screw this up. The Rangers want control of their own site, and have told you to go screw yourself, via a lawsuit calling your league an “illegal cartel”, among other things. I’ll say again, in bold: HOW DO YOU LET THAT HAPPEN? Do you think Roger Goodell or Bud Selig would let shit get this far? No! Do you know why? Because they’re good commissioners! They know something about their own sport! But no, what do you do? You file another lawsuit, threatening to ban the owners of the Rangers (Madison Square Garden), and even start dropping hints you’re going to drop the Rangers from the league. The New York Rangers. One of the Original Six franchises. And you’re dropping hints about banning them from the league. Over a website. You, sir, are an idiot.
Next, congratulations on finally getting off your ass and suspending the owner of the Anaheim Ducks. He’s only been under indictment for making false statements to the SEC about whether or not he backdated stock options to give his executives bigger perks. It took you long enough to realize that that is a federal crime. Of course, you leave the team in the hands of a lame duck (ugh) GM who has one foot out the door and a nice house picked out on the lake near Toronto when he goes to work for the Maple Leafs next year. Why wasn’t a plan put in place sooner, Gary? What were you waiting for? What in the hell have you been doing for the last few months, Gary?
But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is this, which the Toronto Star sums up for us. Apparently, MYFO’s favorite prospective owner Jim Balsille was so goddamned repulsive to you and your owner cartel that Philip Anschutz (LA Kings Owner) and Craig Leipold (Now the owner of the Wild) lent “Boots” Del Baggio $17 million of the $25 million he put in to buy the Predators from….Craig Leipold. So, wait, Leipold lent this douchebag money…to buy the team from himself? That’s how desperate he was to get rid of the team to someone that he liked? He was willing to take a bath on his own sale? All so Del Baggio could get such a sweetheart deal that he does better financially the worse the Predators do financially? If they bottom out, he can take sole ownership of the team and move it to Kansas City. If they thrive, he can give up his stake, make a bundle, and bolt to take the next expansion team that comes along. Plus, there’s a clause saying his money isn’t on the line when free agency comes along. So Del Baggio essentially gets 27% of an NHL team for a grand total of 7 million dollars. I’ll get myself a footwear nickname if it means I can score that kind of deal. And, oh yeah, by the way, Del Baggio’s now under federal investigation and has declared bankruptcy. Good call, guys! This is the point in our letter where we remind you that you held this sale over the voters of Tennessee’s heads to approve a tax hike for the stadium, otherwise, you’d let Boots yank the team to Kansas City anyway.
Now here’s the kicker…you claim you didn’t know this fraternity-style circle-jerk was going on. I’ll repeat, again: HOW DO YOU LET THAT HAPPEN? You are the commissioner for a top-flight sports league in the most industrialized nation in the world. You are supposedly the most powerful man in your sport. Now, you claim that while owners are lending each other money to keep the franchises in their own little AllTel Circle of Friends, you thought everything was hunky dory?
Gary Bettman, we love you, but you are either a liar, a cheat, a criminal, a thief, or a fool. Possibly a combination of the five. It is time for you to resign, for the good of the sport.
With all due respect, which isn’t much right now,
Melt Your Face-Off