Thought I was going to say what the F in SNAFU really means? Shame on you, this is a family show. Anyways, SNAFU actually is a military term that means Situation Normal: All F***** Up, and that's exactly what the NHL front office is right now.
If you've been paying attention to our show, which is now updated on HurstTV 19 in Erie (we're working on getting it online, going from DVD to .Mov is proving harder than we thought), I mentioned that the NHL has just OK'ed a t-shirt (seen left) mocking the rule changes caused by Sean Avery's antics involving Marty Brodeur. That was correct, but now Gary Bettman has officially contradicted the rest of the office and denied the t-shirt, according to the New York Post.
Now many of you are probably expecting me to say that Bettman did a good job. Wrong! Bettman has further cheapened the NHL's image by being hypocritical in its stance on hypocracy.
"The commissioner and his chief lieutenant did not see the humor in it, though they may have been able to recognize the hypocrisy of capitalizing on the persona of Avery, a player the NHL can barely tolerate," says the Post. Though I agree with them, to have released the idea in the first place completely violates that, and sends a very mixed signal.
Furthering the military references, I harken back to the great WWII movie U-571, where a rookie captain is scolded for saying "I don't know." Leadership is essential in any operation, and showing indecision can kill the morale of a crew. Furthermore, approving something and then taking it back shows something far worse: dissention. While dissention in the Bettman camp is something I want, I am also far from confident that he'll be fired anytime soon. Therefore, the NHL's image should be the most important thing, for without respect, how can the fanbase grow, the ratings grow, and how can the NHL ever get back to ESPN and mainstream media?
Tounge-in-cheek things are fine, I make fun of myself quite a bit and I firmly believe that people should have thick skins, but suddenly putting the kibosh on this shows that not only is the NHL not able to make fun of itself, but it is embarrassed to do so. I remember the days where NHL commercials were actually funny. Adam Oates going "offsides" while hitting on a woman, Hockey Falls where a 1972 Bruins autographed jacket gets ruined, out of work goalies in other jobs, or the bubble hockey players talking about Wayne Gretzky. Now all we have is "I am victory, I am defeat, I am victory, I am defeat, I am victory" with a goal lamp that's shown every commercial break. Charting the NHL's popularity from then to now...maybe the league should go back to humor. Maybe championing the bafoonery of this wanna-be-goon IS what the league needs.
No...what the league needs is stability, from the inside out. This is just another example of changing minds. This t-shirt represents every change made and unmade: eliminating tag-up offsides, moving the nets 2 feet closer to the bluelines, FoxTraxx glow puck, and hopefully soon, moving to Versus and expanding to Sunrise, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.
Sorry Gary, no praise for you here. How about we fix the wrecked car instead of just applying touch-up paint?
P.S. Has anyone else seen the irony in that if the NHL profited from this shirt, the players would receive some of it through Revenue Sharing, including Martin Brodeur who suffered through Avery's antics which led to this new rule.