SCENE: A dimly lit board room at NHL headquarters. The NHL lockout is merely days away from potentially wiping out regular season games in their entirety. Cigar smoke swells in the slightly damp air. Thirty NHL General Managers convene, murmuring to each other in small groups. As more conversations begin, the noise level rises. One GM sits back, arms folded as he becomes more and more incensed. He has finally had enough.
BRIAN BURKE: [slams hand down on desk] Alright, enough! We all know why we're here!
JAY FEASTER: I don't know why I'm here. Are we ordering Chinese?
Twenty-nine of the other GM's glare at Feaster intently.
FEASTER: Well, if we're not getting Chinese, the least you can do is tell me. But I could really go for some. Garth, place an order with your owner.
GARTH SNOW: I -- I don't even know why I bother indulging you anymore...
BURKE: [loosens tie] Shut up, Jay! Everyone with the exception of you knows why we're here.
Glen Sather nonchalantly puffs from his cigar nub.
GLEN SATHER: [sneering] Yeah, we're here because you thought it wise to give Colby Armstrong a nine million dollar contract.
BURKE: [in a condescending tone] I wouldn't point fingers, you jerk! You're constantly inflating market price by signing highly valued free agents.
SATHER: Yes, but my teams win, so it's a justifiable expense. You on the other hand... When was the last time you made the playoffs?
BURKE: I'm a goddamn Stanley Cup Champion, Slats! No one will ever take that away from me! Not you, not anyone! So help me God, I'll rent a barn and kick your ass.
Burke balls his hands into fists and it's clear he's ready to fight.
KEVIN LOWE: [sarcastically] Oh great, here we go again.
BURKE: What the hell are you even doing here Kevin?! You aren't a General Manager anymore. Where's Tambellini!?
LOWE: [mockingly] Oh Brian, everyone knows he's merely my puppet. I'm more in charge than I ever was before. And the best part is that no matter how bad I screw things up, dear Steve will be there to take the fall. Isn't that right Steve?
Tambellini pops out of a ventriloquist box placed at Lowe's feet.
STEVE TAMBELLINI: Yes sir!
LOWE: Good boy. [Lowe pats Tambellini on the head before closing the box on it]
BURKE: Listen! Can we focus!? Don't you all see what's going on here!?
FEASTER: The last time I focused, I blacked out. When I came to, I had signed Dennis Wideman to a no-movement clause.
KEVIN CHEVELDAYOFF: That was a good day for all of us.
FEASTER: [exuberantly] Chevy! Just the guy I wanted to talk to. Do you have any interest in trading me Jarome Iginla? We're going for it this year, and we believe he could be a valuable asset to our team.
CHEVELDAYOFF: [stares blankly] You can't be serious, right?
FEASTER: Well, you see, we have a glaring need for talent at the wing positions and...
Feaster continues to ramble on, listing reasons why it's imperative for him to acquire Jarome Iginla, despite the obvious fact that Iginla is already on his roster. It lasts only a few moments before he veers into a different conversation.
FEASTER: ... and that's when I realized that The Big Jankowski was the greatest movie ever made and we had to draft it's main character. Y'know, out of principle. Like an academy award of sorts.
CHEVELDAYOFF: The movie was The Big Lebowski and furthermore... urgh I give up.
SNOW: Do you see what happens when you indulge him?
PAUL HOLMGREN: Guys, Brian is right, we have to get back on track here. There are core issues stemming from this NHL lockout that we need to discuss.
SATHER: [matter-of-factly] You mean like how you try to sign other teams restricted free agents despite our gentlemen's agreement not to do so?
HOLMGREN: Name me one time that's happened.
The veins in David Poile's neck appear ready to rupture. He manages to compose himself.
SATHER: Shea Weber and Ryan Kesler. There's two.
HOLMGREN: Oh... really!? I'm sorry guys, my doctor says I've been struggling with bouts of dementia and memory loss.
DEAN LOMBARDI: Don't worry Paul, we're here for you. You have my number whenever you need to be helped through an episode.
SCOTT HOWSON: Wait, that's how you got Mike Richards!? By taking advantage of Paul during a psychotic episode!?
LOMBARDI: Yeah, and what was your excuse?
HOWSON: I -- [sombrely] I'll see myself out.
Howson, now in tears gets up and runs out of the board room, sobbing gently while the other GM's laugh.
BURKE: Good riddance. Jay, are you sure you don't want to join him? We could probably get a lot more work finished with you gone as well.
Feaster is currently occupied trying to lick his own nose.
BURKE: You know what, forget it, let's just call it a night.
Throughout the meeting, David Poile has become more and more infuriated by his counterparts. He takes his glasses off and places them gently on the table. Then he realizes that what he is about to say will sound way more impassioned if he were wearing his glasses, so he quickly puts them back on his face. He rises to his feet and begins shouting to get everyone's attention.
POILE: OKAY YOU SOB's, NOW IT'S MY TURN!
SATHER: Wait, he can talk?
POILE: [retorts sharply] ENOUGH! [soothingly] I've sat idly by long enough while you all circle-jerk yourselves over past failures and I can't take it any longer. Brian is right, there is a huge problem in the NHL right now. Don't you see? It's us! The owners give us infinite sums of money which many of you use to cannibalize yourselves! You inflate player prices by bidding against each other, making it impossible for us to keep the salaries of lesser players in tact. And worse yet, some of you sign players to unrealistic no-trade clauses. Well, at least Feaster does.
Feaster now has sparklers which he is using to entertain himself.
POILE: Yes, the owners and the players have a lot to figure out over the next days, weeks, months... however long this lockout takes. But so long as you jackals keep overpaying your talent, we will continue returning to this point in the road. [pleadingly] So I beg you -- all of you -- please, curb your spending habits. Show some fiduciary restraint. And maybe -- just maybe -- by the end of the next CBA agreement, we won't be back here in the same place. Thank you for your time.
Poile slumps back into his chair, exasperated. He locks eyes with Don Maloney who smiles and nods his head in approval.
DARCY REIGER: You're right David. Obviously you have done a remarkable job with the finances that you've been afforded. Damn it, if you can do it, why can't any of us!? I say that...
Reiger is abruptly cut off by Sather.
SATHER: [yawning] Yeeaaaaah, that sounds boring. You're boring everyone, David. That's what happens when you talk. We hit the snooze. Foghorn! I say we continue to spend our owners money freely, without regard to any possible repercussions.
A gaggle of GM's chortle in agreement.
BURKE: Settle down, settle down. Both of you make valid arguments. In the sake of wrapping this meeting up, let's take a vote. All in favour of Sather's idea, raise your hand.
Burke counts every raised hand --including his own -- which totals fifteen.
BURKE: Sigh, it looks like we'll have a split vote.
SATHER: To hell we will! Howson left, forfeiting his vote. That means my idea wins!
Sather steps back from the table and dances joyously.
LOWE: I think that you're forgetting that both Tambellini and I can cast separate votes, meaning we are deadlocked at fifteen votes a piece.
SATHER: [screaming furiously] Wait, what!? NO!!! YOU CAN'T DO THAT!!!
BURKE: Though in disagreement, I'll allow it.
HOLMGREN: So now what do we do!?
BURKE: [loosening his tie to the point where it's pointless for him to wear it] I have been waiting for this moment for a long time...
Burke gets up from the table and walks over to a large cherry oak chest in the corner of the room. Opening it swiftly, he reveals a bounty of paintball equipment. Hastily, he starts handing out the equipment to the twenty-eigt other GM's, and Kevin Lowe.
SATHER: [befuddled] What are we supposed to do with this?
BURKE: Gentlemen, it's last man standing. Welcome to the NHL's Hunger Games.
*Fade to black*
FEASTER: Finally! I'm so hungry guys! Chinese? Anyone?.... Garth?
Join us next week for Act II of "Hunger Games", part of our NHL Lockout Diaries.