Will Gary Bettman Have the Guts to Present the Stanley Cup in 2013?

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09:  National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with the media at a press conference announcing the start of the NHL season at the Westin Times Square on January 9, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It has become one of the most regular occurrences in the sports world.

The NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs come to a conclusion and, as one team celebrates, the other team commiserates.

The league's champion is determined and the Stanley Cup is minutes away from being wheeled out to the ice, where it is presented to the captain of the winning team by commissioner Gary Bettman.

As Bettman takes the microphone in hand and starts to speak, fans start to boo. The negativity is palpable and the feelings of dislike, disgust and hatred rain down on Bettman in waves.

That was the scenario before this year's lockout that went on for four months.

If the two sides had not come to their senses at nearly the last minute, the entire season would likely have been wiped out.

But the season was saved and a 48-game regular season will be played and followed by the Stanley Cup playoffs.

At the end of those playoffs, the Stanley Cup will be presented to the winners.

Will Bettman have the nerve to get out on the ice and call over the winning team? Does he want to face the raging anger from fans who have not had a chance to tell him face-to-face what they think of him since this lockout began?

If he does, it will be a memorable moment preserved on YouTube for decades.

It's likely that no commissioner of any sport has ever been as universally despised as Bettman.

He's usually not bothered by the boos, but how would he react to complete silence?.

Perhaps that's what could happen when the time comes to present the Stanley Cup.

As Bettman takes the microphone in hand and prepares to deliver his unctuous congratulations to both participants, the fans in the arena should not boo.

Let that resonate for a moment.

They should stand up and everyone in the arena should turn their back on him and stay silent.

If this doesn't stun Bettman, the Stanley Cup-winning team should also turn its back on Bettman.

So if the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup, captain Zdeno Chara needs to stand with his back turned to Bettman. So should his teammates.

Bettman will call Chara over and he needs to ruthlessly ignore the draconian dictator.

After a period of time—30 seconds, a minute or perhaps even two—Bettman will understand what is happening and then take the walk of shame off the ice.

At that point, the captain of the winning team can skate over, lift the Stanley Cup and go on with the celebration.

That moment will speak volumes and live on for decades.

It's doubtful Bettman will survive.

This is just an idea and it seems unlikely to happen.

Even those who dislike Bettman the most do not accuse him of lacking guts. He may not like the idea of getting booed, but it has never stopped him before.

He may get advice to stay away this year. However, Bettman will not heed that advice. He will show everybody he is not afraid.

It may be the professional mistake of a lifetime.