We are not expecting a Gary Bettman sighting for Game 4 of the Los Angeles Kings-San Jose Sharks series Tuesday night. Or for Game 5 on Thursday, and probably not Game 6 on Sunday, either. And maybe not even for Game 7, either. We remain hopeful for Game 8, though.
Too bad, too. The one time the Bay Area would actually like to see him, he’ll find himself too busy tending to the three series that haven’t been designated as undercards.
And yes, this is still the undercard for whatever other series there is, because that’s the way the sport has always operated. Like the Stanley Cup itself, it is a series of rings, and the further away from the center you get, the less intriguing you are.
Yes, the Sharks are playing the defending Stanley Cup champions in a series that has had enough of everything yet not so much that people aren’t willing to watch more. But they are not members of the Original Six, like Chicago and Detroit and New York and Boston. They do not have Sidney Crosby, like Pittsburgh. And they do not have Canada, like Ottawa.
In fact, we suspect that maybe Doug Wilson’s $100,000 First Amendment experiment was just a way to see if anyone on the east side of the continent was paying any attention at all.
Turns out somebody was. And that’s why the commissioner has something better to do for the foreseeable future.
You may argue any side of the Raffi Torres suspension you wish – our position has been that his hit on Jarret Stoll was worthy of two games, three games tops, when your factor in the totality of the crime, including the part where Torres was guilty of being persistently and obstinately Torres. But you take any side you like, and we won’t argue. We are open-minded that way.
Besides, we’re in it for the chaos anyway.
You see, when the suspension became “Until I Say So, Young Man,” which is Shanahanic for “the rest of the series, however long it goes,” that’s when this became fun. That’s when Wilson, who likes to seem outwardly controlled and polite in that maddening Canadian way, decided that life can be much more rewarding as a revolutionary, with a Stella Artois in one hand and a Molotov cocktail in the other.
And that’s when Bettman decided to stay three time zones away until further notice. True, he could sneak out to L.A., where the Torres suspension was hailed as a triumph of jurisprudence and the Wilson reaction a shout of “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. In L.A., he would have some friendly faces.
But there is no discernible upside to his turning up in San Jose. True, he would try to lay as low as possible so as not to needlessly rouse the rabble, but what’s the point of a commissioner coming 3,000 miles not to be seen? It’s not like he is particularly busy, and even if he is, it’s not like he can’t do whatever he needed to by phone, or by proxy, without being exposed to the newest members of the Badly Behaved Club.
So, no Bettman for you, children. Your troublemaking general manager Dougie Trotsky shot his yap off and ruined that for everyone. Sure it cost him $25K (the extra $75K is a team expense that will probably blow the postseason Costco trip/company picnic all to hell), but you miss out on getting your annual glimpse of power. At least for awhile, anyway.
Try to buck up, though, kids. By the time he does come out, Torres will be playing again, and won’t that be a roaring hoot for everyone?