NEW YORK - Early yesterday, thousands of abused hockey fans celebrated the return of their beloved game. The National Hockey League endured a 113 day lockout that nearly cost fans, players, and owners an entire season.
After the game's third work stoppage in the past 18 years, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had one piece of advice for returning fans:
"If anybody asks, you fell down the stairs!"
Staring down at throngs of fans outside of a Manhattan hotel, Bettman berated the dedicated masses.
"When you show up to work tomorrow, don't you dare think of saying anything. Here's a pair of sunglasses. Just wear some long sleeved shirts, keep your hair down over your neck abrasions, and don't say anything. Remember...I love you. Come here, come here, you know I only do this because I love you, right? Right? Now come home right after work. I said right after! Not, 'I think I'll stop by the Barnes and Noble for 30 minutes right after', I mean right after! I'm sorry. Sorry for yelling. I love you, baby. Come here. Come here. Don't, come on...honey, come on? You think I was gonna hit you right there? Come on. Come here. There, baby. There. Come here. (whispering) I'll never leave you...because you can't. leave. me."
The abuse that has been heaped from Bettman onto hockey fans is being investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services.
"We've been getting thousands of calls for the past couple months," said DCFS head Loren Givins. "But, he hasn't been at home due to the lockout. There's been nothing to do. So, once we're ready to pounce, all of a sudden we have thousands of fans trying to support him. It's the clearest case of abuse I've ever seen. Now we're hearing about all of these gifts he's gonna be giving the fans. This is so typical."
After the work stoppage, Bettman told many fans of the gifts they'd be receiving if they kept their mouths shut.
"Listen, I'm sorry. But look what I've got here: free NHL Center Ice. Any game, anywhere, any time! What, that doesn't impress you? Hey, how about some half off merchandise? Okay. Look, I'm slicing ticket prices. I stole these diamonds from Janet Gretzky. I, uh, I...you can have my jet...No, seriously, I've got like 17 extra from the Bruce McNall fallout...next weekend...anywhere. You want Paris? You got Paris. All of you. Just, just don't tell anybody. What? Two Winter Classics next year? Fine, hell, three. Take three Winter Classics. One in Canada, one in the United States, and one in Vegas. That's right, honey. You, me, Vegas. Just the two of us...Come here. Come here, don't. Don---. Don't turn away. Come here. There. There. I'm here for you, babe. I'll always be here."
Don Glibarski of Traverse City, Michigan is one of many hockey fans being lured into Bettman's ring of terror.
"I'm not afraid to say it. Gary's been abusive with me for 18 years. But, what can I say? He knows me. He loves me. He's always there to say he's sorry. Back when we first started dating, he was so...so different. He was fast. He'd do unnecessary realignment and scheduling changes. He'd be purchasing franchises in Atlanta and Nashville. All of a sudden, pucks were glowing and shit...I didn't know what was up. Then, the second you'd get upset, he'd try to do something sweet like...eliminate the two line pass...or tighten officiating. The second everything seemed to go well, the beatings would start again. He'd put the NHL playoffs on cable stations I didn't even have. He'd start insisting that hockey was better off in Arizona than in Ontario. If I said anything different, he'd just yell back or beat me. This year, he just decided to take the whole game away. I had it. I left. I was done. Then, he sent me this long/beautiful e-mail after they resolved the lockout. It was so sweet; something about free Center Ice and interesting playoffs. He can be so genuine sometimes. I-I...he deserves a second chance. Er, a third. Or a four--fifth. I don't know. I just know he deserves another chance."
Glibarski was one of the few fans willing to talk. All of the others responded quickly that they 'just fell down the stairs'.
The NHL season will commence in the next two weeks.