"I wanted to do something that would really make the NHL seem fresh and innovative, and I think this is it," said Bettman, beaming. "The Stanley Cup served it's purpose for a long time, but these are new or refurbished 16-gig iPad 2s that the players will get to keep. We're probably even going to pay to engrave their names on the back."
Bettman's idea was immediately panned by the media members attending the press conference, with several becoming so enraged they yelled expletives at Bettman. One older reporter rushed the stage and tried to hit the commissioner with his notebook.
"I have to say, this was not the reaction I expected," a clearly disappointed Bettman said after order was restored. "The Stanley Cup was old. There was only one for all the players to share. They had to give it back. These are iPad 2s that they can keep! They even have 3G! We're not paying for the data, but the players can activate it if they want to. What is not to like here?"
"I was looking at some ratings numbers at my desk this morning and was shocked and horrified by what I saw," said Bettman. "So I called Mark [Custance] in and asked him to explain the dramatic drop. All he had was excuses, so I let him go. Excuses don't work at this level. This is a professional sports league. For some reason, I have to keep reminding everybody of that."
Due to the NHL lockout that now looks likely to cancel the entire 2012-2013 season, the NHL Network has been forced to fill its schedule with rebroadcasts of old NHL games or live junior and minor league hockey action. Custance said he reminded Bettman of that when they spoke this morning.
"I'm not sure he understands that there are no NHL games right now," said Custance. "I think he thinks they're trying to negotiate a contract but that the games are still being played. Actually, I'm fairly positive that's what he believes. He is easily the dumbest man I have ever met or worked with."
"I've always been a big NBA fan, and became even more of one when I worked in the NBA league office," Bettman told reporters. "But since I took this job, I've had to go to stupid hockey games and stuff all the time. It's been hard to keep up with the NBA, but I'm really excited by all the young talent I'm seeing out there night after night."
The commissioner said he's not purposely extending the lockout in order to watch more basketball, but admits it's a nice benefit of the labor dispute.
"We were making some progress on a deal with the players the other night, but I had to cancel our follow up meeting because I got Knicks tickets," said the commissioner. "How about Carmelo Anthony so far, huh? He's playing the best basketball of his career. I think I'm going to get a Carmelo jersey."
"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 fking 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?"
"I've had several doctors tell me recently about the symptoms related to brain injury," said Brendan Shanahan, an NHL vice president and the league's head of discipline. "I can't help but think that based on his decision-making, Gary Bettman has been seriously concussed for most of the last 20 years."
While Bettman is widely considered as completely incompetent, a severe concussion would explain many of his decisions since becoming NHL commissioner in 1993.
"Even with a severely concussed brain, it doesn't get him completely off the hook. I mean, putting the NHL on Versus? Even a brain functioning at 5-percent wouldn't do that. That's a full lobotomy decision," said Shanahan. "But you still have to think that much of what Bettman has done over the years was a desperate cry for help. You almost have to feel bad for the weird little guy."
"For the health of our players and especially the long-term health of our sport, we thought this was the smartest decision," said Montreal general manager Pierre Gauthier. "We will revisit everything once the commissioner is forced to resign due to severe head trauma."
The unanimous decision by the league's general managers has been met with great enthusiasm by NHL fans. A line outside of the NHL's Toronto headquarters spreads eight blocks as fans from all over the world queue for a chance to hit Bettman in the head.
"I'm not even a very big hockey fan," said one person in line who flew in from New Zealand. "I just appreciate competent leadership. So I felt like the least I could do is fly across the world for the chance to hit Gary Bettman in the head."
Blake Rawson, a 20 year-old university student in Toronto, has long been told he bears an uncanny resemblance to Crosby. An NHL marketing executive spotted Rawson at a Tim Hortons and mentioned the idea of hiring a look-alike Crosby as a joke to Bettman. Within in minutes the commissioner had signed Rawson to a contract.
"I don't know much about hockey or follow it very closely," said Bettman. "But I know that Sidney Crosby's continued absence will hurt NHL ratings as the playoffs approach. Getting a Crosby impersonator in there was an obvious decision."
In addition to having Rawson suit up for Pittsburgh in Crosby's No. 87 jersey, Bettman is making him available for NHL-themed events and birthday parties. So far the Crosby look-alike is booked on weekends through April. Several requests in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. were turned down when the league learned the "childrens' birthday parties" were nothing more than Flyers and Capitals fans hoping to beat up someone who looks like Sidney Crosby in an alley.
Plans for an all-white basketball league being organized by a Georgia man received worldwide attention and scorn since he proposed it last week. But according to numerous reports, there is an all-white hockey league already in operation in North America that has been quite successful.
"I'm not inventing a new concept," said Don "Moose" Lewis, commissioner of the proposed All-American Basketball Alliance. "I don't understand why I am being called a racist when the NHL has been in a business for 94 years."
The National Hockey League, originally organized in Montreal, is now headquartered in New York City and boasts 30 franchises in major cities across North America. In recent years the league, behind the direction of commissioner Gary Bettman, has moved in the the American South hoping to sure up support there.
Bettman says the league is proud of its white heritage.
"The NHL is for fans who want a more fundamentally-sound brand of hockey," he said. "There's nothing racist about it. If hockey fans want a flashy style of hockey, they can watch any of the black hockey leagues."
An NHL spokesman quickly called to rebut and apologize for the commissioner's claims, stating that the NHL does not ban players of color and, in fact, has had several star black players including African-Canadians Dirk Graham, Grant Fuhr and Jarome Iginla.
Bettman challenged that, however.
"First of all, African-Canadian sounds made up to me," he said. "And I've met this Graham and Fuhr guy and I'm blacker than they are. But, hey who knows. Maybe the NHL isn't an all-white league. I don't really follow the sport much. But when I do see games, everyone looks white to me."
Lewis says he has received interest from Bettman in becoming an investor in his all-white basketball league.