Well, it has come to this. While my original prediction that the National Hockey League season would start up in late December is still very much in the realm of possibility, it’s become tiresome to continually write about the lockout. The public theatre also seems to bug a bunch of people, so I’ve been inspired to transfer some of the major characters from the NHL’s labour dispute to the world of Shakespeare. This was mostly so I would have the chance to characterize Gary Bettman as the equivalent of Billy’s Richard III, a deformed manipulator who became one of literature’s classic villains.

Scene One (Inspired by Richard III)

Toronto, hotel lobby

Enter GARY BETTMAN

BETTMAN:

Now comes the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this Son of Troy
And all the clouds that lowered in ’04
In the deep cover of our revenue projections
Now when we escaped penetrative fog
Our salary cap hung to our leather belts
Our share of revenue well above free market
Our returning patrons, eager to enter
Grim-messag’d segments of ice “Thank You Fans!”
And now, years after the lost season
To fight the souls of strong adversaries
Fehr stands strong and bargains just too well

****

Scene Two (Inspired by The Merchant of Venice)
Online, an email thread

Enter REPORTER and RYAN MILLER

REPORTER:

Why, I am sure, if thou playest, thou wilt not
With thy union, what’s it good for?

MILLER:

To bait Gary withal. Our union feeds else what?
It feeds slow congress. Gary hath disgraced us,
Hindered us millions; blamed us for losses,
Interrupted our gains, and is not i’good faith he
Bargains, this cool beast, to form heated enemies
Every seven years? For what reason? I am a player
Hath not pro athletes eyes, organs?
Dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Playing
The same game, hurt by the same transgressions, subject
To the same concussions, some yet to be healed,
Warmed in the winter and cooled in the summer, but
Is slow process. If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you lock us out, we do not play, poison
Our sport, we do feel wronged, as did
Basketball and football athletes before us
If we are like the rest, must we not
Decertify?—If a player wrong an owner,
What is his humility? A lockout. If an owner
Wrong a player, what should the sufferance be?
Why, none. Villainy a union cannot execute,
Powerless we are, but stand alone I will,
And better my standard contract

****

Scene Three (Inspired by Othello)
New York, a conference room

Enter JEREMY JACOBS

JACOBS: 

Who in Winnipeg is another fool for my purse
For mine own experience is to act profane
If I would expend time dealing with him not
For this sport but my profit. I hate Fehr.
And I hate that ‘twixt my balance sheets
He’ll interrupt my office. I know not that true
But I, for the mere suspicion of the tribunes
That I would see but one dollar lost to my players
The more for my purpose I will work on him.
Chipman, it is. A rich man. Let me see now,
To thirst his quenched beak for my own will
In double knavery? How? To turn his desires
After some time from wanton love of hockey
That he becomes familiar with greed and might.
He hath but a small frame and malleable will
To be suspected as one to find owners false
Fehr is free to find him less eager of dispute
Chipman sees the players honest but it is not so
They are comfortable and presumptuous by nature
They are going to play by my rules
If I had but a single penny I would but hell
And wait through’t, and if Chipman speaks
I will tell him thus

****

Scene Four (Inspired by Henry V)
New York, a street

Enter DONALD FEHR

FEHR:

Once more into the meetings, dear players, once more;
And make whole this wall with the owners’ cash.

(That one doesn’t work out so well because I’m having a tough time picturing Donald Fehr on a horse like Kenneth Branagh from the film adaptation.)

Comments (5)

  1. That pic of Bettman looks like you could do a Hitchcock interpretation as well.

  2. Or ‘Citizen Kane’

  3. Wish there was a picture of him hunching over a little more.

  4. As long as it doesn’t end like Hamlet.

  5. ENTER Sidney Crosby

    To play, or not to play: that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of owners,
    And by opposing end them? To play: to score;
    No more; and by not playing to say we end
    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to, ’tis a concussion
    Devoutly to be avoided. To play, to score;
    To score: perchance to win: ay, there’s the rub;
    For in that game o’erseas what goals may come
    When we have shuffled off this NHL,
    Must give us pause: there’s the respect
    That makes calamity of so long a seaon;
    For who would bear the hooks and slashes of Hartnell,
    The owners wrong, the owner’s contumely,
    The pangs of despised Flyers, the ref’s delay,
    The insolence of Bettman and the spurns
    That patient merit of the fans take,
    When he himself might bare himself to a blogger? who would practice such,
    To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after the lockout,
    The undiscover’d contract from whose bourn
    No NHLPA head returns, puzzles the will
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know not of?
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
    And enterprises of great pith and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry,
    And lose the name of action. – Soft you now!
    The fair Hall of Fame! In thy orisons
    Be all my Cup’s remember’d.

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