The Commissioner’s Challenge: Kiss Off, ESPN

“No deal, Norby!” the Commissioner growled into the phone. “We’ve been having tremendous growth and exposure with VERSUS. The NHL Network is getting ready to explode. I don’t need to let you violate my principles just for your dirty Bristol money.”

“You’ll regret this Bettman. By the end of the day, you will regret this. Tomorrow morning, you will be calling me, begging me to make this deal. But tomorrow, the price tag will be half what it was a few minutes ago.”

“Good bye, Norby!”

“You’ll regret this, Bettman–”

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 direct line–the one he likes to think of as the Very Important Phone–rings at his desk.


“This is the Commissioner.”
“I would be careful if I were you, Commissioner, using words like ‘violate.'”
“Who is this?”
“Someone who is sitting in your driveway.”

The caller hangs up. It was probably a crank call. Granted, the caller did not ask if his refrigerator was running, but it was the same thing. But how did he get the number to the Very Important Phone? Not even Mrs. Bettman had that number. 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?