by Mike Chen on 06/17/09 at 08:01 PM ET
James Mirtle dug up a little thing about Jim Balsillie’s followers being prompted to spam Gary Bettman’s inbox. During this whole process—heck, even going back to when Balsillie tried to buy the Predators—I kept wondering how a guy who’s obviously really freakin’ smart in one way could be so dumb in another.
Or maybe not dumb, but petty, impatient, and childish. This “Spam Bettman” campaign is the virtual equivalent of toilet-papering the NHL offices (or perhaps the good ol’ flaming bag of dog poop). Annoying, attention-getting, but ultimately fruitless.
Jim, listen to me. What you’re doing is a collective waste of time. Bettman and the Board of Governors don’t bend to spam campaigns, online petitions, or public begging and pleading. How many online petitions did we see during the lockout? Heck, even local mayors got involved with letter-writing campaigns to beg and plead their part about how NHL games boost the local economy. What did that get them? Absolutely nothing.
The stupid thing is that the path to Balsillie’s victory seems so simple if he’d just change his approach. If Balsillie could somehow use his billions to finance a time machine, his best course of action would be to prevent the whole Make It Seven silliness and instead, wine and dine the Board of Governors. Meet them each individually for a pint or two, convince them that you understand them, that you’ll play within the rules, that you respect the way the league is governed.
That’s it. You want in, you gotta get in good with the BoG (forget all the PR spin about “he was already approved”; that was a different situation and a lifetime ago, and you can bet your BlackBerry that the BoG thinks totally different of him now). Kiss their ass, yuk it up with them, make them feel like you’re one of them—even if you don’t mean it.
You’ve got the money, and really, that’s part one of a two-part equation. Without the second part—BoG acceptance—you might as well go throw rocks at Gary Bettman’s house until the cops take you away because it’ll do just as good. This whole “I’m a rebel, look at me” act doesn’t go anywhere in a conservative old-boys club. If you’re trying to be a Canadian folk hero, I suppose your PR campaign is working on a few people but plenty of others (both hockey fans and media) see right through it.
And you’re forgetting the first thing about today’s 24-hour news cycle: the public forgets stuff instantly. Without any substance, you’ll be surprised at how quickly Make It Seven becomes an afterthought, especially once training camp begins and sports fans have actual hockey to talk about.
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