It seems safe to say that the NHL lockout’s PR battle is being won by no one. Efforts from both the NHL and NHLPA sides of the table lie in smoking ruin. In the eyes of many fans, pretty much everyone involved has been fundamentally smeared for their incapability to resolve the situation with anything approaching common sense, while the senseless waste of days ticking away destroys the hypothetical revenues they claim to be fighting over.
But it seems, in secret, their efforts to resurrect their embattled public image may be changing. We (The Toronto Truculent’s Matt Mistele and special guest writer, Michael Stephens!) can reveal a new issue of Confidential detailing the negotiating committee’s latest attempt to save their reputations.
Behold the secret transcript of…wait, Halloween isn’t until next Wednesday? So it can’t technically be…and this creates a…yeah, nobody cares.
A COSTUME SHOP IN SOME CITY THAT WILL KEEP CHANGING FOR THE SAKE OF THE STORY
A store manager works with Gary Bettman, who’s wearing a suit that’s half burnt, gruesome face makeup on one side, and half of a black-seared wig.
MANAGER: Brilliant Two-Face.
BETTMAN: Do you have one with more faces?
Bill Daly appears. He’s wearing beige overalls with an NHLPA shoulder patch (with a red circle and line through it). He has a massive backpack that requires way too much power to run efficiently, a radio that doesn’t return calls, and a futuristic rifle that shoots down hopes. Bettman stares, confused.
DALY: I’m a Union Buster.
BETTMAN: I was going to be a Union Buster! I want to be a Union Buster!
DALY: You can’t.
DALY: If I do it, it’s fine. But if you do the exact same thing, it’s a public relations disaster.
Donald Fehr enters. He’s wearing a nostalgic grey track suit, a bald cap, facial makeup that forms a false scar, and stroking a white cat.
BETTMAN: Dr. Evil? Nice.
DON FEHR: First of all, I’m glad we could meet here. Is this a costume shop? The sign outside wasn’t clear, but I’m sure if we ask-
DALY: What are you doing?
DON FEHR: I’m beginning my address with inane small talk and general observations to create empathy so you’ll pretend I’m an emotion-bearing human being for the next several minutes.
BETTMAN: It’s not working.
Steve Fehr enters. Dressed normally.
DALY: What are you?
STEVE FEHR: Special counsel to the Trick or Treating party.
BETTMAN: What’s that?
STEVE FEHR: I call Bill at weird hours of the night so the media can report that we talked, giving fans the false hope the four of us are actually negotiating and not just a bunch of stubborn, posturing asshats.
TWITTER: That’s not working, either.
The four men leave. They pass Brian Burke, who’s trying on a Batman costume. Howard Berger emerges from the bathroom, dressed in jeans and a hoodie.
BURKE: What are you supposed to be?
BERGER: A reporter.
BURKE (visibly shuddering): That’s [censored] terrifying.
OUTSIDE THE COSTUME SHOP
Bettman, Daly, and the Fehrs walk by Dreger and McKenzie sitting at a makeshift TSN panel.
DREGER: Gary! Can you confirm rumors that the four of you ‘Trick or Treating’ together is a joint PR stunt to try and rebuild the public’s shattered opinion of everyone involved in this totally-unnecessary-and-common-sense-suspending-but-I-can’t-say-that-because-of-media-objectivity lockout?
DALY: No comment.
A crowd of fans nearby doesn’t react.
BETTMAN: No comment.
The crowd of fans begins screaming and throwing flaming whiskey bottles.
DREGER (rubbing his eyes): I can’t keep doing this. This lockout coverage is just stupid and pointless.
MCKENZIE: No more. No more. I can’t do another TSN rewind. We’ve gone as far as we can go. This isn’t even the VCR era! “Rewind” is an obsolete word!
DREGER (nervous): You haven’t heard about the Gramophone Game yet, have you?
McKenzie breaks down, weeping. Dreger throws his microphone down.
DREGER: I WANT SOME REAL NEWS!
Jonas Siegel runs up.
SIEGEL: Breaking. Donald Fehr has the first get of the night. Mini Aero. Should I Tweet that, or does one of you want to take it directly on-air?
Craig Leipold (dressed as Ebenezer Scrooge) walks alongside Kerry Fraser (dressed as Frankenstein and preening his hair with a comb and compact mirror). Leipold keeps muttering to himself and swiping at unseen objects in the air above him. Fraser’s phone beeps with a notification.
FRASER: TSN’s following the big four. We need to stay ahead of them. Both sides will want half the candy at each house. There’ll be nothing left.
Fraser notices Leipold swiping at the air.
FRASER: Craig, what’s wrong?
LEIPOLD (breathless): Since July, I’ve been haunted by the ghosts of those contracts. Terrified I’ll have to pay out full value on all $200 million dollars’ worth of deals.
FRASER: So why did you sign them at that value?
LEIPOLD: Because I’m a hypocritical, short-sighted, competitive billionaire.
Fraser laughs, and points at the crowd of pitchfork-wielding villagers in Maple Leaf jerseys forming behind them.
FRASER: Grow up, Craig. Ghosts are nothing more than irrelevant, mind-forged haunts.
LEIPOLD: Uh…Kerry? I don’t think those are ghosts.
ROBERTO LUONGO’S HOUSE
FOR SALE sign on the lawn. Bettman, Daly, and the Fehrs walk up to Luongo’s front door. They knock. Luongo appears, wearing a Leafs jersey.
FEHR: Ha! Happy Halloween!
LUONGO: It’s Halloween?
Luongo disappears inside and returns with a makeshift bowl of candy.
LUONGO: Here. Take some candy.
BETTMAN: Oh, I don’t like that candy. I used to like that candy. A lot. That candy gave me some of my best times and happiest memories. But then I had one bad experience with it, and now I hate it, and I never want to see it again.
LUONGO: One bad experience and you’re going to hate that candy, forever?
BETTMAN: Actually, it wasn’t even the candy. It was the wrapper around it.
LUONGO: Maybe that wrapper should have scored a [censored] goal in a game [censored] seven.
Luongo slams the door.
JEREMY JACOBS’ PALATIAL ESTATE
A mother and her son – dressed as an NHL player – stand on the ornate doorstep while Jacobs hands them candy from a golden bowl.
JACOBS: How much do you want? Have you been to Ed Snider’s house?
JACOBS: How much did he offer you?
KID: Ten pieces.
JACOBS: Here’s eleven.
KID: Wow! Thanks!
SECONDS LATER, DOWN THE STREET
Jacobs, breathless, catches up to the mother and her kid.
JACOBS: Hey! Wait! I want some of that candy back. Not a lot, just, some.
JACOBS: Yeah. I thought about it, and my neighbour – the guy who owns the basketball team? – he only hands out eight pieces of candy. I was trying to compete with Ed, and I really think I gave you too much candy.
MOTHER: You’re worth billions of dollars. The mere difference between the candy you handed out and the candy you wished you handed out has an utterly negligible effect on your individual bottom line. It’s pure greed. It’s borderline immoral.
KID: That candy was a promise! I left believing that was my candy! And now you want to steal some of it back? How can you possibly be more evil?
Jacobs snatches the mother’s house keys away.
JACOBS: Ha! Give me the candy if you want your house keys back!
KID: But Mr. Jacobs, without those, we’re locked out-
MOTHER: We’re not going to be very subtle with this metaphor, are we?
DALLAS EAKINS’ HOUSE
Bettman, Daly, and the Fehrs knock - the front door opens. Dallas is doing crunches in the foyer, kale smoothie in his left hand and a bowl of seeds in his right.
BETTMAN: Uh…have any candy?
Behind him, Nazem Kadri struggles breathlessly on an exercise bike.
KADRI: I wanna go Trick or Treating!
EAKINS : Nope.
KADRI: This is ridiculous! I trained with Gary Roberts! My body is a temple!
EAKINS: Of doom.
Gary Roberts appears behind Kadri, whipping him with a hemp rope.
ROBERTS: You made me look bad, kid. No one makes me look bad. I am the Chuck Norris of hockey nutrition.
Eakins opens his laptop, typing furiously.
ROBERTS: What are you doing?
EAKINS: Registering a “Gary Roberts Facts” Twitter account before some blogger can get…(slams his fist down)…DAMNIT!
CHARLES WANG’S NEW BROOKLYN MANSION
The group knocks on the door of Wang’s mansion. He opens it, and points to a dump truck nearby.
WANG: Go ahead. Take some.
WANG: I bought 25 years’ worth of candy. I got a great deal.
The dump truck pours massive amounts of candy into four bags. The men each take one. They start to walk away, but Bettman stops.
BETTMAN: Come on, Chuck. This isn’t going to work.
Bettman opens his bag and pulls out a bound-and-gagged Rick DiPietro.
OUTSIDE THE AIR CANADA CENTER
Bettman, Daly, and the Fehrs approach the building with a large crowd of fans waiting for admission to the annual Halloween display. Brian Burke appears, wearing his Batman costume.
BURKE: Welcome…to the House of Horrors! Come in, if you can survive the terror!
The crowd shuffles in. Bettman stops, admiring Burke’s outfit.
BETTMAN: That’s not a costume shop Batman.
BURKE: It is not.
BETTMAN: It looks like you built that out of graphite and Kevlar at home.
BURKE: It does looks like that.
BURKE: Yep. Went straight to my head.
INSIDE THE AIR CANADA CENTER
Bettman, Daly, the Fehrs, and the fans see the horrific Halloween display on the ice:
James Reimer mans the net with Ben Scrivens backing him up. James van Riemsdyk is taking the draw at center ice. Mike Komisarek is the fourth defenseman on Randy Carlyle’s depth chart, and Jay McClement is the best penalty killer.
OUTSIDE THE AIR CANADA CENTER
15,000 people run away from the building, screaming. Except for a few bloggers.
BURKE: Aren’t you scared?
BLOGGERS: Meh. It’s basically the same as last year’s.