Of all the important issues that need to be resolved during this colossally boring labour war, let me throw one out there that I can guarantee nobody is talking (or caring) about during negotiations.
It’s been proposed before by a few people, journalists and players, but surely this is an idea whose time has come. The players should slip a clause in there that the Stanley Cup is no longer presented to the winning captain by Gary Bettman. It’s just getting too ugly to continue. Nobody wants to see a player unwilling to shake Bettman’s hand at the most photographed moment of the year.
If there is a Stanley Cup awarded in June (or July) of 2013, let it be Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau or Mark Messier who hands the trophy to Daniel Alfredsson (yes, that’s me being clever).
Let Bettman come out with the microphone and get booed but let him announce that Wayne Gretzky is going to present the Stanley Cup and you instantly turn an awkward moment into something everybody involved in the game would be happy with. The person presenting the Cup has to be a past winner and that’s the only criteria. You might say it’s tradition that the Commissioner (or in the past, the President) gets to do the duty but it wasn’t that long ago when Gretzky himself started the tradition of all the players sitting at centre ice for the Cup photo right at the peak of celebrations. It wouldn’t be long before it would seem weird that we once let the Commissioner pass the greatest trophy in sports.
To get more legends involved, do the same thing with the Clarence S. Campbell and the Prince Of Wales trophies to the winners of the East and West.
It’s the smallest thing in the world right now, but the payoff would be bigger than many can imagine.
In the meantime, I’ll be watching Youngblood until this thing blows over.