NOTE: The NHL Owners and NHL Players' Association are currently trying to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. We, of course, are not privy to the discussions on the owners' side. But we can imagine how they might be going...
(SCENE: Conference room in Toronto. Interior. Late afternoon.)
GARY BETTMAN: All right, gentlemen, I think we're finally coming to a proposal that we can live with here. Jeremy, why don't you read back the notes?
BOSTON OWNER JEREMY JACOBS: Right. Okay, under our current proposal, owners would get 108 percent of revenue and players would have to work second jobs as carnies to make up the shortfall. Free agency would be extended only to players who are older than Chris Chelios and all contracts would run for two weeks, tops.
COLUMBUS OWNER JOHN MCCONNELL: Wait, what about revenue sharing? (Several other small-market owners nod.) If you'll look at the numbers that our subcommittee put together, I think you'll be pretty pleased.
JACOBS: (/shoots McConnell dead)
PHILADELPHIA OWNER ED SNIDER: Anybody else want to suggest revenue sharing?
(The small-market owners all shake their heads frantically)
JACOBS: Maybe we should ask the Phoenix owner! (He and Snider make a big show of swiveling to look at an empty chair, then burst out laughing maniacally. They high-five. No one else laughs.)
SNIDER: Seriously, though, Bettman, you owe us money for that and we know where you live.
BETTMAN: (looks uncomfortable) Well, uh, I guess if that's it for today, we can -
JACOBS: Hold on one second. We've got one more thing to do before we're done. Bring him in!
SNIDER: Let him talk.
LEIPOLD (as the gag is removed): YOU MANIACS, YOU CAN'T TIE ME TO A CHAIR! THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!
JACOBS: Oh really, Minnesota boy? We're about to kill another season of the league, only eight years after we killed a season to "finally come up with a system that's good for everyone." You think tying you to a chair is a real problem for us?
SNIDER: Now then. Let's have a little talk about you, Craig. How long have we been talking about this CBA negotiation? How many times have we sat in this room and agreed that this was our chance to grab back a few more fistfuls of cash for ourselves? And you represented us so well by - refresh my memory, Jeremy?
JACOBS: (mock-flipping through a stack of papers) Well, it says here that ol' Minnesota Moneybags here spent $196 million on two players, a month before the negotiations started!
SNIDER: Really! Now who thought that was a good idea?
LEIPOLD: I needed to make a splash! People were ignoring the Wild! FOR GOD'S SAKE, THEY WERE GOING TO TIMBERWOLVES GAMES AGAIN!
JACOBS: Do you have any idea how bad you made us look here? We're trying to say that the financial system in the NHL can't go on and we're willing to cancel games to get rid of it... only you're up there in Freezerville, happily carrying on in the current financial system.
SNIDER: (rolls eyes) Quiet, Gary. The men are talking.
JACOBS: So now, when we plead poverty, we have to contend with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter rolling around in corncribs filled with hundred-dollar bills. And this does not make us happy.
SNIDER: Not at all.
JACOBS: So here's what we're going to do. You're not going to be seen nor heard from for the rest of this lockout, and if I hear one peep about your little franchise up in Minnesota being "excited for the season," I'm going to make you play Martin Skoula with Suter all year.
LEIPOLD: (terrified) NO! HE'S AWFUL!
JACOBS: And just to make sure we don't hear from you, you're going to be sitting in a quiet room with Mike Milbury until this whole negotiation is over.
SNIDER: Not only will you not be able to get a word in edgewise, you'll be trying to commit suicide within the hour!
(They laugh evilly)
LEIPOLD (as he is being dragged away): NOOOOOO! YOU WON'T GET AWAY WITH THIS! I MANAGED TO SELL THE PREDATORS AND BUY THE WILD, I CAN WEASEL OUT OF ANYTHING! YOU HAVEN'T HEARD THE LAST OF CRAIG LEIPOLD! NOOOOOOOOO!