The Commissioner’s Challenge: 30 Games for Briere

“You can’t intimidate me, Pat. I’m the Commissioner. It’s 30 games. Minimum.”
“I can’t be held responsible for whatever happens next.”
“Goodbye.”

After arriving at NHL Headquarters, the Commissioner spends time meticulously attending to the mundane details that other executives hand out to underlings. Monitoring secretaries’ Internet usage; checking under the rims of the toilet in the men’s room to keep up with the cleaning crew; bugging Stephen Walkom’s office. That sort of thing. Shortly after lunch, the Commissioner’s receptionist buzzed.

“This is the Commissioner.”
“Sir. A letter was left for you at the front desk.'”
“Bring it in.”

The letter was in a plain manila envelope, with no stamp or return address. The Commissioner slit it open with his custom-made hockey stick letter opener. The letter was handwritten, in an elegant script:

Votre femme, elle est belle. Elle va aimer etre avec de vrais mecs.

It looked like one of those crazy letters from Quebec, still bitter about the Nordiques. About one of those a month still came in. Strangely, this one did not name the Nordiques, or contain the word Colorado. And while French was mostly Greek to the Commissioner, he was pretty sure he knew what “belle” meant. One of his daughters had dragged him to that Disney movie years ago.

A strange feeling started to come over the Commissioner. It took two full minutes to realize what it was: worry.

“The Commissioner does not get worried,” he said out loud, to no one in particular. Still, perhaps he should go home early. But what kind of example would that set for the marketing interns? Next thing you know, some of them would want to leave before their 8 p.m. quitting time for “family reasons.” Should he stay, or go home early?

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