Welcome to the third installment of Screen Shots: Year In Review. But remember Â– if you think satire is a European supplier of Formula One wheels, you really ought to turn back here; otherwise, you're liable to interpret something we've written as fact and subsequently blow a head valve or two (to read Part 1, click HERE; Part 2, click HERE).
July-September: Deal Or No Deal?
July 2: The NHL's newly-created competition committee, comprised of four GMs, four players and one owner, makes a bold series of recommended changes to the game.
In doing so, they earn the wrath of disgruntled GMs, who are angry at effectively being replaced as official rule-recommenders for the NHL's board of governors.
"A lot of (GMs) aren't happy at all," one unnamed GM told TSN. "In fact, they're furious. This competition committee could have been integrated with the GMs, but it looks like it's a replacement type of thing. It's going to be very interesting to see how this dynamic is going to work."
Reached for comment once the season showed the rule changes Â– shootouts, tag-up offsides, smaller goalie equipment Â– were working wonders at improving fan appreciation and excitement, the unnamed GM said: Â“Um, nevermind.Â”
July 9: Red Wings goalie Manny Legace lets the proverbial Â“erÂ” rip on a wide variety of subjects during an interview with the Associated Press.
Â“We lost a season for no reason,'' said Legace, whose words are read aloud at a meeting of owners, causing (a) dozens of monocles to fall from eyes, and (b) enough cries of Â“Hallelujah!Â” to mistake the gathering for a religious revival.
''We should've crumbled last September when the owners wanted a salary cap,'' Legace continued, as did the owners' huzzahs of joy. ''It makes no sense what we ended up doing.Â”
However, the mood among owners changes once Legace turned his common-sense approach to the topic of ticket prices.
''It would be a great boost for public relations,'' Legace said of the idea to match the players' 24 per cent salary rollback with an identical reduction in ticket prices. ''Teams like the Red Wings will be spending about $40 million on (player) payroll instead of $75 (million), so they should give some of that money back to the fans.''
Between fits of howling laughter, owners comment on that possibility by impersonating the sound of chirping crickets.
July 13: The NHL and NHLPA announce a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Canadian law enforcement officials confirm four mob-beating deaths of smart-asses who asked, Â“There, was that so hard?Â”
July 13: Players finally get a good look at the deal they'll be playing under, a deal that includes Â– hand to heaven, you're not gonna believe this Â– a salary cap, 24 per cent salary rollback and more access between the players and media. The rank and file's first reaction is identical to those who have drunkenly signed up for internet Â“servicesÂ” after getting home at 2:35 a.m. from the singles bar: Â“I agreed to WHAT?Â”
July 18: The NHL deems its upcoming lottery draft Â– exceedingly hyped because it determines who gets to select phenom prospect Sidney Crosby Â– not newsy enough to warrant a live TV broadcast.
"The draft lottery is being conducted at the board of governors meeting, which is a private business meeting of the NHL," said league spokesperson Bernadette Mansur. Â“After the completion of the meeting, the commissioner will announce the results of the lottery."
Amid a public outcry, the league reverses course and agrees to televise the lottery as it happens. In purely coincidental news, David Stern and Paul Tagliabue are seen earlier in the day, making generous donations to the Â“Give A League A ClueÂ” program.
July 21: An overwhelming 87 per cent of the players' union votes to ratify the new CBA.
Those who voted against the deal argued in favor of Howie Mandel's tempting offer: a 27 per-cent salary rollback, $40-million cap, and thirteen of the stunningly beautiful and mentally vacant models paid to stand by those suitcases.
July 22: The Penguins win the Crosby lottery, but the high point comes earlier in the draft, when TSN anchor James Duthie interviews Philly GM Bob Clarke immediately after his team craps out with the 20th overall pick.
Â“Are you disappointed to not get Sidney Crosby?Â” Duthie asks.
"Not really," Clarke said. "Whoever gets him has to worry about free agency."
Atta boy, Bobby. Never let the rat bastards see you cry.
Aug. 1: Blue Jackets GM Doug MacLean makes the first risky free agent acquisition of the new NHL era, signing impeccably-named former Avs blueliner Adam Foote to a three-year, $13.5 million deal.
Â“It's been proven that a 34-year-old defenseman entering the late stages of his career is among the centerpieces of a Stanley Cup-worthy team, especially one that finished 29 points out of a playoff spot, like we did the last time hockey was played,Â” MacLean said, adding: Â“Wait, that hasn't been proven? Now, who was it that told me that? Gimme a second hereÂ…Oh, I can see his face, tooÂ…This is gonna drive me nuts.Â”
Aug. 3: Normally a franchise that deals away high-priced stars, the Edmonton Oilers acquire two NHL stars in two days, landing defenseman Chris Pronger from the Blues and center Michael Peca from the Islanders.
An exultant Edmonton City Council quickly triples funding for young, female Edmontonians in training for the inevitable Red Mile Rumble with their cross-province rivals in Calgary.
Aug. 8: Wayne Gretzky agrees to coach the Phoenix Coyotes. Among his first tasks: substituting Â“The Phoenix CoyotesÂ” for every reference to Â“CanadaÂ” or Â“CanadiansÂ” in his famous Salt Lake City Rant.
Aug. 10: Artem Chubarov bolts the Canucks and the NHL to sign in Russia. We think we speak for everybody outside the greater Vancouver area when we say: Farewell Artem, we hardly knew ye. Seriously. Not even if we'd have run ye over.
Aug. 13: The Niedermayer Bros. sign contracts with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. In keeping with California custom, they announce they will henceforth be known by the name of ScrobNiedermayer.
Sept. 6: Pavel Datsyuk announces he will leave the Detroit Red Wings and play in Russia during the 2005-06 season. He also announces that his first announcement should in no way be interpreted as a negotiating ploy to squeeze Mike Ilitch and Co. for a few extra hundred thousand bucks.
Sept. 23: Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, tears into the NHL for its new advertising campaign, which features a Â“warrior-likeÂ” male player who is being aided by an attractive female.
"The woman is dressed provocatively and when she asks the player if he's ready, it's a double-entendre in my view," Burk said. "She's in the ad as a groomer, a sex object.Â”
Â“Sex object?Â” responded an incredulous Bettman, who commented on Burk's accusations after his keynote speech at a bra burning in Rye. N.Y. Â“Wait until she sees Â“TootsÂ”, the NHL's new cigar/cigarette mascot/vendor, coming soon to an arena near you. Toots is so Â‘women's lib', I'm sure Ms. Burk will be blown out of her cooking apron by it.Â”
Click HERE to read Part 4 of Screen Shots: Year in Review.
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