Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote an engaging article about the NHL owners’ offer to the NHLPA. I read the article and applauded Brooks’ advocacy of his opinion about the negotiations. The article was well thought out and persuasive. I am not a fan of Brooks in general but this was a nice marriage of wit and venom posing as compelling logic.
Coincidentally, that “advocacy” was the only thing Larry Brooks missed about Gary Bettman and was the flaw in his article. From the title of “Bettman Playing Dirty” and throughout, Brooks made Gary Bettman synonymous with the owners, as if they are two of the same. They are not.
“He’s not my friend, counsel. He’s my client or did they fail to teach you the difference wherever you went to law school?” Those were words I spoke as a much younger lawyer to a Deputy District Attorney after I got a not guilty verdict for a client in a drug case. The D.A. was young and pissed at the verdict. He caught up to me in the hallway a couple of weeks after the NG and proceeded to state with blustering pride that “my friend” was just picked up on weapons, drugs and related charges. The “friend” comment was what caused me to lay into the prosecutor about the difference between an advocate and someone I would call up and have a beer with on a Saturday afternoon.
Gary Bettman is an advocate. In these negotiations, he serves that role for the owners. Like a lawyer, he doesn’t get the first or last call. If the owners told him tomorrow that they want to keep everything as is, he would convey that offer and that may be the end of the CBA negotiations. To blame Gary Bettman for the NHL owners’ insulting and absurd offer is to blame me for my client’s conduct. For those wondering, he pled out to the charges the second time around and then moved to Arizona many years later where they encourage that type of behavior. I sometimes miss my younger days.
I realize there will be a difference of opinion here. Gary Bettman isn’t exactly “loved” by many and he may rate right below what we think of Anaheim Ducks’ fans in many players’ and fans’ minds. One could even argue that his opinion influences the owners and he is driving this ship. Perhaps. But when I see 30 very rich men and a handful of those within said 30 who have more fuck you money than they can count, I begin to doubt if little old Bettman calls the shots.