Making Tough Decisions in the NHL

The Canoe Restaurant, Toronto, Ontario
Sept 1st, 2009

Gary Bettman, President, NHL
Well, I just want to thank you for joining me for dinner this evening. It’s been a couple years now since I first appointed members of this group to the NHL’s official Replay Revue Committee and I thought it was time that I shared my appreciation for the fine job you are doing. Some people thought it a bit odd that a league headquartered in New York would establish it’s official Replay Review Committee in Toronto, but we know that a disproportionate number, in fact most of the TV viewers and league revenues originate in Canada so it certainly made sense in that respect.

Waiter: Should I open another bottle of wine, Sir?

Bettman: Make it three more bottles of Grange Hermitage. Thank you.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for the excellent work you are doing. You know, our League Governors showed foresight when they decided that I should appoint members of your group to avoid any perception of favoritism to one team or another. And you’ve all demonstrated that I made the right decision by appointing people who were not afraid to make tough decisions. I’d like to expand on that thought a bit. If making decisions about what is a goal and what is not a goal were a simple matter, this group would not be needed. But you are where you are, because we know you are prepared to make the difficult decisions. We expect that you will always be prepared to make the difficult decisions and not show any favouritism whatsoever. This is especially important, of course, in games involving Canadian teams. After all, you are based in Toronto so I know you will all be very careful to make decisions that do not in any way suggest “hometown favouritism”. So when a goal involving a Canadian team is in question, I am confident you will always be prepared to make the tough decisions….even if it sometimes appears that the goal was or was not scored…that you will take that extra time and exercise due diligence to ensure that no one can ever accuse you of playing favourites. It’s pretty evident that we could not sustain this Group’s operations in Toronto if our American fans suspected that you were “playing favourites”.

Committee Member: So, Mr. Bettman, Sir, are you saying we should be extra careful not to show any hint of favouritism towards Canadian teams.

Bettman: No, No, not at all. Don’t get me wrong. What I’m saying is that you simply be prepared to make the tough decisions. Anyone can make easy decisions. Look, say one of the Sedin boys are tied up in front of the net in a playoff game and the puck glances into the net off his skate. Even though the rule book says there has to be a clear kicking motion to disallow the goal….what does that really mean? What’s a kicking motion?….I mean really? What does “kicking motion” really mean? The easy decision would be to simply say it’s a goal…but you were hired to make the tough decisions and all I’m saying is that I know you will be very careful to always make the tough call…. especially when it involves Canadian teams.
Members. “Well of course, Mr. Bettman. You bet. Perfectly clear, sir.”

Bettman: Waiter, would you please bring us a bottle of your finest 20year-old port? Thank you. ©