Opening act for a closed show: 'Bettman and the Boneheads'

Opening act for a closed show: 'Bettman and the Boneheads'
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman gestures as he describes ongoing labor negotiations last week in New York. (Reuters Photo)
NHL muckamuck and Gary Bettman sock puppet Bill Daly

said last week he was out of ideas for saving this locked-out season.


Excuse me, but when exactly did you or the NHL have even one idea?

Besides making the players indentured servants, I mean?


You know what Bettman's next idea will be?

Making the players pay to participate, like the NHL is squirt hockey.

Yes, hoser, you should be happy to pay for the right to play in a league run by Jeremy Jacobs’ house elf as the Boston Bruins owner channels his inner Billfold Wirtz.

The late Blackhawks owner was one of the loudest voices the last time the owners hit on the great idea to lock out the players and lose a season and then some. Wirtz wanted cost certainty, as he called it, but what he really wanted was a rigged game.

And he got it. Wirtz got his precious cost certainty. But now, the terms Wirtz fought so hard to get because he didn’t want to flex his financial muscles to win the Stanley Cup are not good enough.

If you judge by the rhetoric from Bettman and the bonehead owners -- opening act for "Five For Fighting: Bettman and the Boneheads" -- it sounds like the last deal was the worst thing that ever happened.

If you're a Hawks fan, it was. Or, it was bittersweet, at least.

After Wirtz died, his franchise moved into the modern era -- "What's this thing called a TEE-vee, Pully?'' -- and won the Cup. His Draconian demands, however, cost his team about half of those champion players. The Hawks haven't won a playoff series since. The short-sightedness of the father was visited on the son.


And now, that collective bargaining agreement that Wirtz absolutely had to have as he put his hand in the back of Bettman's wooden head last time is the one the owners claim they can't live with now.

I love what Rocky Wirtz has done with the Hawks -- with what used to be the Hawks, anyway. I love the many ways the NHL produced a better product. I hate the way Jacobs is starring in the role of Billfold Wirtz, Part Deux, as Bettman's puppeteer.

That last sentence outweighs the first two for me at this moment. I hope the players hold out long enough to cost Bettman his job. I hope the players hold firm enough to cost Jacobs part or all of his franchise. I hope only 12 teams survive this a-puck-alypse and we end up with a better product and a better-run league.

I figure the idiots running what formerly was the NHL won't be happy until the new CBA gives them the right to send players to their rooms without dessert. So then, Stevie Sunshine will see you next December at what likely will become the Tribune's annual "Slap Shot'' night.

Tangent: The Tribune has more sports movie nights in the works after you packed the Music Box for an enthusiastic, laugh-filled night the only time we tried this. We haven't nailed down our festival schedule, but I think we're going to see Al Czervik asking the deathless question: "Whoa, did somebody step on a duck?''

Back to hockey for now, and I can't give any more of a heads-up to those of you shut out this year.  Charlestown Chiefs captain Johnny Upton already committed to participate in our "Slap Shot'' night the way "Steve Hanson'' did this year.

You look to your captain when things get tough, and while Upton promised not to flash anyone next year, it's appropriate to adapt his immortal description of the Hanson Brothers to Bettman and the Boneheads:

"These guys are a (bleepin') disgrace.''