The Commissioner reached for his wallet. “No, it’s on me,” he heard his mouth saying. What a strange feeling.
The progress meeting went smoothly, as it always did. Smoother, even, perhaps, as the underlings seemed even more eager to please than usual. Perhaps there was something to this newfangled “Motivation” all the business gurus always talked about.
After the meeting, the Commissioner spent 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.
Just before lunch, his Blackberry buzzed again.
“Commissioner Bettman. It’s Cliff Fletcher.”
Cliff! Good to hear from you! And, congratulations.”
“Thank you. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, though. These people want immediate results.”
“I’m sure you’re up to the job.”
“Well, no I’m not. That’s why I’m calling. I need your help.”
“What can I do?”
“My fans need some hope, some excitement. We need Tavares.”
“Well, the way you’ve been playing, you should have a good shot at him.”
“No. I mean, we have to get Tavares. I’m asking you to rig the draft for me.”
“Cliff. You know I can’t do that.”
“Yes you can. You owe me. You haven’t forgotten that weekend after the 1997 Board of Governors meeting, have you?”
“We don’t need to go there.”
“I’m going there. Are you going to help me, or not?”
“You better. I have made a lot of friends in this business over the years. Some very unpleasant friends. Friends who don’t mind playing dirty. Last chance.”