NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and league owners met with representatives of the players union in Toronto on Thursday for the latest negotiating session on a new collective bargaining agreement. But Bettman opened the meeting with a more general discussion.
"First of all, I want to thank you all for coming today. I hope we can make some progress towards an agreement," Bettman reportedly told those gathered in the boardroom. "But before we get started, I know we've got some great hockey minds gathered here, and I have a question about something that's been nagging at me for years. Icing. What is that exactly?"
After the commissioner of the world's premier hockey league posed his question, the room reportedly sat silent for at least 10 seconds, according to one player how was present.
"Wait … ," Pittsburgh Penguins player rep Craig Adams finally spoke up. "You're not f—king kidding, are you?"
"No. No I am not, Ken," said Bettman.
"It's Craig," said Adams.
"No, I am not kidding, Craig," responded the commissioner. "I just don't get icing at all. There's a lot I don't understand about the sport considering I never played it, but the icing thing comes up a lot and I just totally don't get it. Are you just not allowed to hit the puck all the way down or something?"
"Jesus Christ," said Tampa Bay wing B.J. Crombeen. "We knew you were stupid but I don't think anyone every expected anything like this. Just … wow."
Bettman, looking hurt, said he was just trying to educate himself about the game in hopes of being able to understand the players more.
"But if you are going to call me names because of a simple question, we're not going to get anywhere here," said the commissioner. "Icing is only one question I have. What is boarding? And how come teams don't just use a really fat goalie?"
"You've been the commissioner for 20 years!" said an incredulous Adams.
"Well, nineteen," said Bettman. "I think I should be commended here for being curious."
The players then stormed out, ending the negotiating session.
"We can't play in a league for a commissioner who knows absolutely nothing about our sport," said Wild rep Darroll Powe. "Enough is enough. There will be no season until there's a new commissioner who isn't a moron."
NHL union chief Donald Fehr backed up the players.
"It's unacceptable that the players are disrespected in this way," said Fehr. "Although, I'll be honest, my background is in baseball and I know nothing about hockey. How many points are goals worth? Please don't tell the players I asked you this."