Okay, on Tuesday I was sworn in as NHL commissioner. Did you know they don't use a Bible when swearing in the commissioner? They use Mike Foligno's old helmet. It looks like an alien's dildo and I didn't want to touch it, but if you want the job, you gotta put your palm on it.
On Wednesday I unveiled my rule changes for the league. Wednesday afternoon, I had angry calls from Bobby Clarke and Martin Brodeur. Clarke was mad that I made cross checks to the face illegal. Says I'm making the game soft. Brodeur was mad he can't rifle the puck around the boards any more. I reminded him that he plays for a three-time Cup champ that draws 4,000 people a night, so maybe his stickhandling isn't that interesting. Don Cherry also called to yell about something but then starting rambling on about some 17-year old in Peterborough and how he plays the game the right way and bless his family and this and that. I put the phone on the desk and went downstairs for a coffee.
Today, Thursday, I'm unveiling my changes to the league. This is a big day and I'm very excited! Also, thunderstruck by my power and decision making, Giada is calling to set up a lunch date. It looks like both fantasies are going to come true. Wow, am I excited. You know those things bounce real nice.
First, the simple changes:
1) Referee performances will be reviewed on a more stringent basis. If you don't want to make the calls, Pierre Champoux, I'll find somebody who can.
2) Pierre Champoux will change the spelling of his name to Shampoo. That is just ridiculous, and I'm not even a francophobe.
3) Fines and suspensions will be increased for headshots and boarding. Even if it's missed by the game officials, the eye sees all. All! Hey, you give me $25,000 and I'll let you hit everybody in the back. It's such a tough guy play! So manly!
And then things got interesting. Because the big C came into play. Contraction.
4) Atlanta, Florida, Nashville and Phoenix, say goodbye to your franchises. You'll hardly even notice they're missing, I'm willing to guess.
And herrrrrrre come the lawsuits. But the best part is...I don't care! That's right! Because I ignore the lawsuits, I somehow will prevail in court. The mayor of Glendale calls to yell at me because they just built that big, new arena. I tell him to follow Dubai's lead and build America's largest indoor ski slope. Then I tell him to get fucked. Probably unnecessary, but I'm on a roll.
Now we have 26 teams, leaving a clunky 13 in each conference. Ordinarily, Carolina and Tampa would be easy picks, but they've won Cups and that still means something in this crazy, workaday world. So Carolina, Tampa and Columbus are put on notice. Whichever teams draws the most fans is saved from my sharp blade. That will be Carolina (my new powers also include soothsaying) and Tampa and Columbus are chopped from the league.
In the end, we settle out of court in a deal similar to the ABA/NBA merger. The six contracted owners get a piece of NHL revenue for 15 years. It's amicable enough.
5) The conferences are renamed Wales and Campbell and the divisions are renamed Patrick, Adams, Norris and Smythe.
At this point, I really am just airing out Bettman's stench. Carolina, New Jersey, New York, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh go into the Patrick. Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Washington go into the Adams. The Norris gets Colorado, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota and St. Louis. That leaves Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose and Vancouver for the Smythe.
6) A league-wide schedule is back. So are divisional playoffs.
For years, Bettman tried to get rivalries back in the game. You want that? Have teams play each other in the playoffs just about every year. I can smell the hatred from here.
Up next: What makes more headlines? Contraction or the re-entry draft?