Tuesday, 17 October 2017


When asked in early May about the NHL's strategy for dealing with outspoken players following the NFL's ordeal when the President of the United States focused his social media voice on the NFL's players, Gary Bettman said, "I would encourage and I do encourage our players to do it on their own time. When they're showing up for work to participate in a game that people are focused on, care about, pay a lot of money to attend, then it should be all about the game. That block of time should be apolitical, and we can use our platforms to demonstrate diversity, inclusiveness, educating communities on good causes whether or not it's health or the environment. But when the game is being played, it should be about the game because that's what fans want."

The image above was taken in January when Mr. Bettman was in Calgary speaking to the Calgary Chamber where he uttered, "It is not an overstatement to say the future stability, viability and continuity of the Calgary Flames, and perhaps the city of Calgary, rests on the achievement of CalgaryNEXT."

Those words piqued the interest of then-Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi who wanted to speak with Bettman over this statement. Over the course of the next few months, they had their discussions, and it seemed the two men were no closer at finding a resolution to the Flames' arena issue as they were in January. All of this culminated in the Flames basically breaking off talks with the Mayor's office over not getting what they want - specifically, public money that they don't have to repay to build an arena. As the frsutration boiled over, Gary Bettman told voters that if they want to keep the Flames in Calgary, they should make their voices heard at the ballot boxes in the mayoral election.

Monday at midnight, Nenshi's main rival, Bill Smith, conceded the election when Nenshi had 112,503 votes to Smith's 97,756. Mayor Nenshi and all the incumbent councillors had secured their seats for another four years despite Gary Bettman's imploring people to reconsider and the public grandstanding by the Calgary Flames over Nenshi's refusal to do business the Flames' way.

For a commissioner who is on record telling his players to be apolitical while on the NHL's time, why is he allowed to make comments as he did without punishment? I get that he represents the owners in this battle, but the only proper title for Commissioner Bettman to use is Hypocrite Bettman if he's allowed to try and sway an election while preventing the players in his legal from protesting peacefully.

To make matters worse, employees of the Calgary Flames took to social media to voice their opinions upon hearing the reports that Nenshi had claimed his third term in office. Both of these tweets have now been deleted, but they lived in the ether earlier today.
That's Calgary Sports and Entertaiment ‎Vice President of Sports Property Sales & Marketing Gordon Norrie telling everyone who he is voting for via Twitter. Norrie's tweet leaves little room for doubt as what he'd like to see in the election results as well.

That's Calgary Flames Director of Communications & Media Relations Sean Kelso expressing himself eloquently once the election results were being tabulated and broadcast on Monday night. It seems his choice of words towards the citizens of Calgary might not be the best example that a Director of Communications & Media Relations would want on his resumé. Nonetheless, voila.

And to think that Flames President and CEO Ken King said to a crowd at the Calgary Chamber on September 25, "We're not in politics. It is impertinent, imprudent and inappropriate for us to try to intercede on the political front."

Foot-in-mouth much, Flames?

Sports is a microcosm of society. Everything happening in and around local cities and regions affects its citizens, both private and corporate. Often as a means of civic pride, sports teams will try to rally communities in an effort to bring people together. In the Flames' case, however, it seems that they have no clue what their community wants since Nenshi ran on a platform that included an entertainment and cultural district in Victoria Park on the eastern edge of Calgary's Beltline neighbourhood where the Mayor had proposed the new arena be built.

With Mayor Nenshi officially back for another four years and the Flames still needing an arena, it might be time to swallow some pride, come back to the bargaining table, and figure out how the Calgary Flames can be good corporate citizens of the city of Calgary without emptying the wallets of Calgary taxpayers. This shouldn't be a difficult negotiation for the Flames if they can make a deal that doesn't bleed the city dry without injecting some sorely needed funds into important things like infrastructure maintenance, police and fire funding, and social programs in the city. Good corporate citizens would work with their neighbours rather than reaching into their pockets to build a new barn.

Your move, Flames. The people of Calgary have spoken. And maybe get Sean Kelso to issue an apology while you're at it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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