September 19, 2007
In the course of my daily jaunt through the local broadsheet, I noticed in an otherwise uneventful article by the Canadian Press’s Pierre LeBrun, this comment,
“…Owners will also hear from the league on possible expansion today, with Winnipeg, Las Vegas, Kansas City and Seattle among the cities on the radar.”
Now, as some of the throng of fans I have accumulated know very well, I used to work for a Member of Parliament. (For those readers who are confused as to what that is, or for those people who need a TV character to use as a frame of reference, think of my role as that of a Toby Ziegler or Joshua Lyman from the West Wing—only less irritating, and more well rounded.) Press releases, speech writing, mudslinging, and character assassination (kidding!) were all part of my job—in short I was a Communications Director. As part of the role of a communications director, you are responsible for ensuring that your message is being disseminated to the public, and is at the same time well received by the public you are targeting.
At this point, you may be thinking to yourself, “what is the point to this, I could be reading Perez Hilton.” But bare with me, as I am coming to the point, which, simply is, Gary Bettman, the Tiny Perfect Commissioner, heretofore known as the TPC™, has simply changed his communications strategy as it relates to the concept of the NHL returning to the city of Winnipeg.
For years, after deliberately sabotaging every effort the city of Winnipeg put forth to save our beloved Jets, the TPC refused to even listen to arguments advocating for the return of the NHL to Winnipeg. Rather then humor the people of Winnipeg with a couple of nice platitudes about Winnipeg’s strong legacy as a hockey city, or even a polite brush off, the TPC would go off on a rant against Winnipeg. Based on his comments, it was easy to see that for whatever reason, it was a personal vendetta he had against the NHL being in Winnipeg.
Fast-forward ten years (or so), and we have today an expansion into the American Deep South that has failed as poorly as the CFL’s did (see: Barracudas, Birmingham, Mad-Dogs, Memphis etc.). Yet, there still is no team in Winnipeg. However, what we have now, as evidenced by the aforementioned Pierre LeBrun article, is a communications director who has changed the talking points used by the commissioner.
Let me explain. A government, when defending a policy, or deflecting attention away from a scandal creates talking points for their spokespeople to use. They stick to these talking points, come hell, high water, or media ridicule. The TPC, for all his imperfections (I am aware of the irony), is smart enough to realize that his expansion has failed miserably, and he cannot continue to use the same talking points he has relied on for so many years, as it relates to the NHL returning to Winnipeg. Much like a government creating new talking points to defend a policy after the shelf life of the initial talking points has expired, the NHL is simply doing likewise.
Although he has softened his language in his new talking points, making it seem like a return to Winnipeg is plausible, his actions in the Balsillie-Nashville Predators debacle should be evidence to both the public and the media, that he has no interest now, or ever, in returning the NHL to Canada, let alone Winnipeg. All he has done is changed his tune ever so slightly and by seeming to be more amenable to the idea of the NHL in Winnipeg, he has kept the media wolves at bay, who are now willing to overlook the colossal error that is Bettman’s tenure, and instead focus on the remote possibility of seeing the NHL return to Winnipeg/Canadian markets, an idea planted by Bettman himself. Why no one in the media has commented to this effect, instead of swallowing the gruel served up by the TPC as it relates to Canadian expansion/a return to Winnipeg, I do not know, but I for one, will not believe anything coming out of the mouth of Gary Bettman. The NHL will return to Winnipeg when the TPC is no longer the Commissioner, and someone in the NHL realizes how catastrophic of a failure Commissioner Bettman was. His legacy won’t be that of a trailblazer, but rather as a commissioner who scorched the earth of NHL hockey in traditional hockey markets.
Here is all you need to know about Commissioner Bettman and his reign of terror in the NHL:
2004-05 Stanley Cup Champion: No Information Available
Thanks to him it will be a long time and Commissioner Bettman will be long gone before this is ever seen again: Winnipeg Wins the Cup!
For Illegal Curve, I’m Andrew M
About the writer: Formerly a speech writer for a Canadian Federal Politician, Andrew will be bringing his unique take on the hockey world to the illegal curve blog once a week, or more often if the rage needs to be released in a manner other than clobbering a referee over the head with a whiskey bottle. Mainly because he doesn’t have enough empty whiskey bottles at his disposal.