Oh, he was mad all right.
With Gary Bettman, there’s no mistaking it. The tense, twitchy body language, the eyes bulging a bit, the normally scripted public relations speak suddenly sounding like the words of a real live human being. That loss of control doesn’t happen often in public settings, but when it does, the whole world knows the commissioner is peeved. This was special, though, standing at the podium in New York on Thursday night. This was extraordinary.
And for some sitting at home interpreting the National Hockey League lockout as though it were a game or a night of theatre, this was evidence finally, that the lawyer who was the National Basketball Association's gift to hockey finally, really gave a damn about the sport just the way the fans do.
Could be. Could be that Bettman desperately misses all of those nights at the rink. Could be, also, that he doesn’t like the idea of having “Only Sports Commissioner Ever To Lose Two Full Seasons To Owner Lockouts” engraved on his tombstone.
But here’s an alternate explanation.
What set Bettman off was staring across the bargaining table at his mirror image.