not to get lippy with Ben Eager.
Scene: An opulent mansion. The home is decked out with Halloween decorations, and various guests are milling around in costume. The doorbell rings, and is answered by a man dressed as a giant padlock.
Gary Bettman: Come on in!
Bill Daly enters, dressed as a giant crow with an "S" painted on his chest.
Daly: How's the annual Halloween party going, Gary?
Bettman: I'll be honest. I'm picking up on kind of a negative vibe this year.
He looks over to the other side of the room, where Donald Fehr and several players wearing cattle costumes are glaring back at them.
Daly: Understandable. Nice decorations, though.
He motions at a row of tombstones featuring a Thrashers logo, tickets to an Islanders game, the 2004-05 season, and the phrase "actual credibility".
Bettman: Thanks. I just wish Katz would stop trying to sneak an Edmonton Oilers one in there. But the costumes are cool. Ryan Suter went as a spinning weather vane, and the Sedins were great in that two-piece horse costume right up until David Booth showed up and started shooting at them.
Daly: And what about the guy in the straightjacket outside howling at the moon?
Bettman: Oh, that's just a hockey blogger trying to figure out how to put a fresh spin on his 27th consecutive lockout post.
Daly: Poor guy.
Bettman: Yeah. Sad, really.
Daly: Is there any food?
Bettman: Well I made some, but whenever I put a platter out and a player gets too close, Jeremy Jacobs makes me pull it off the table.
Jacobs appears wearing a Darth Vader costume.
Jacobs: Did I just hear you give an opinion that I didn't pre-approve?
Bettman (quickly): No sir!
Jacobs: Didn't think so.
The doorbell rings. Bettman hurries over to open it, revealing several adorable children.
Kids: Trick or treat!
Bettman (tossing candy into their bags): Here you go, from your pals at the NHL.
Kids: Gee, thanks mister!
Jacobs whispers in Bettman's ear.
Bettman: I'm told that we've changed our mind. (He starts pulling handfuls of candy back out of each bag).
Kids: Hey, you can't do that, you already agreed to give it to us!
Jacobs immediately slams the door shut and locks it.
Kids (from outside): We'll be back on New Year's day!
Jacob: Make a note to cancel that.
Bettman: Two months early? That makes no…
Jacobs: DO IT!
Bettman (meekly): Yes Mr. Jacobs.
Roberto Luongo wanders by wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.
Bettman: Interesting costume choice, Roberto.
Luongo: It's not a costume. Brian Burke hit me over the head with a club and stapled this on me.
Bettman: I don't think he's allowed to do that.
Luongo: Really? He said it was a new rule in that latest CBA offer.
Bettman: Yeah, I don't think that's… (flips through his copy of the offer) … no, wait, looks like he did slip that in.
Daly: We probably should have had somebody else read through that after we let Brian write the whole thing.
Voices from the rafters: Boo! Boo! Boo!
Daly: Aw… Halloween ghost?
Bettman: No, hockey fans. They follow me around 24/7.
Bettman: Yeah, it's pretty much constant unless there's no hockey fans around for miles. That's why I spend so much time in Phoenix.
Luongo: Non-stop booing? That must be rough.
Bettman: Oh, you'll find out soon enough.
A man dressed as a hobo and holding a "Will work for food" sign wanders by.
Bettman: Hey, awesome costume. Let me guess: NHL team game day employee? European league fourth-liner? Guy in charge of checking people for cell phone cameras on their way into focus groups?
Hobo: Costume? No, I'm the television executive who convinced NBC it would be a good idea to launch a new sports network featuring the NHL.
Hobo: Spare a dime?
Bettman tosses a dime into the man's cup.
Jacobs: (clears throat)
Bettman: (taking the coin back): On second thought…
Hobo: Oh come on!
Donald Fehr (sliding up helpfully): You know, maybe you shouldn't have given it to him in the first place if you were…
Jacobs: That's it! Everybody out!
Bettman (sighing): Jeremy, we can't keep locking everyone out whenever…
Jacobs: You too short stuff! Move it!
Bettman: This is my house…
Bettman: Yes sir.
Everyone is herded outside. As the crowd slowly disperses, Bettman is left along with Fehr.
Fehr: Want to split the cab fare into town?
Fehr: Oh, eventually!
They laugh heartily and hop into a cab that speeds off through a puddle, splashing water and soaking the group of sad children.
December 26, 1917 – Toronto wins the first ever meeting between the two teams by a score of 7-5, thanks to a series of rookie mistakes by Canadiens’ defenceman Chris Chelios.
From Leafs VS. Habs: Hockey’s greatest rivalry, one of 24 chapters of brand new material available exclusively in The Best of Down Goes Brown.
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