Well it all comes down to this. Game seven of the Stanley Cup final. The Habs and the Bruins are all tied-up at three-games a-piece. The whole season comes down to one game. Man up. So who’s going to guarantee a win?
Unfortunately the fate of the season is not in the hands of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito or Ken Dryden and Guy Lafleur. This particular game seven is in the hands of a bunch of very rich guys in suits and it’s up to them to decide if we get to see any hockey in the next six months.
The National Hockey League board of governors meets in New York City on Wednesday and if the moderate – read ‘sane’ – owners don’t stand up and tell Gary ‘I hate hockey’ Bettman enough’s enough, the season is toast. The pressure’s on.
I wrote it last Saturday – ‘It’s time for the moderate owners to take a stand’. Though in all honesty, the actual blog was more angry diatribe against Bettman’s destruction of the league than a call for moderate action.
On Sunday, Larry Brooks published a just-brilliant column in the New York Post saying – trend alert! – that it was time for moderate owners to take the puck back from Bettman. Given where he writes, Brooks focused in on New York Rangers CEO Jim Dolan.
Then on Thursday, Jack Todd weighed in with a great column, an open letter to Canadiens owner Geoff Molson to step in to end the lock-out. Saturday, La Presse columnist Philippe Cantin said pretty well the same thing in his piece, Une occasion pour Geoff Molson. (There’s no link to that one cos La Presse hasn’t yet made it available on their site as of mid-day Saturday.)
And all four of us are right. The puck is not just on Molson’s stick. It’s up to the doves to take back control of the league from the hawks. So yeah the Habs owners should be wading into the debate for the first time, but so should the Blue Shirts’ boss in the Big Apple and so should the owners of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, the folks who own the only NHL franchise worth a billion bucks.
It’s not fair to put all the pressure on Geoff Molson. Like why should it all be on the shoulders of one of the league’s newest owners?
But they can’t just sit there and do nothing. They owe it to their fans to do something. I asked someone last night to tell me who owns the Habs and you know what he said? The fans. And he’s right. Team owners often talk about their responsibility to the fans and now they have perfect chance to prove that’s not just empty talk.
It’s nuts to lose this season. It’s just as nuts to deal with the expiry of every single collective agreement by locking out your employees. That’s a great way to destroy the league. That’s Bettman’s way. And I still have heard no rational explanation as to why the 30 NHL owners think that this scorched-Earth policy is the best thing for the league.
So Wednesday’s the day. So if you care about the NHL, the choice is simple. If you’re a fan, let the owners know how you feel. If you’re an owner, let Bettman know how you feel.