Actions often speak louder than words. As the NHL and the players are stuck in a PR battle, it's easy for each side to spin things however they want them to appear. Actions, though, speak for themselves.
Some players made the best of the situation and helped to organize a charity game in Atlantic City, a trip that was not so convenient for many of the attendees (Henrik Lundqvist came all the way from Sweden just to play). For one night, players and fans could forget and about the lockout and the economics involved. For one night, everyone in attendance and on the ice could enjoy hockey for the sake of hockey.
Gary Bettman and other NHL executives did not appear to be on the same page. A source directly associated with NBC Sports has informed me that the NHL specifically requested to NBC that they not broadcast Operation Hat Trick. While it's not definite that NBC would have gone through with the broadcast, the NHL's intervention seems to have been enough to end all discussions of the possibility.
Not a bright move by NHL executives, who are already losing the media tug-of-war. Bettman insists that he sympathizes with the fans and that he wants hockey back more than anyone. So then why pressure NBC, who basically changed the entire structure of their sports network to promote hockey, to not let fans all over the country watch a single hockey game/ A game with absolutely no motives besides giving the fans a much needed taste of hockey and raising money for people who were devastated by a storm? Of course, the NHL would not have been dramatically hurt by the broadcasting of the game; it was purely a symbolic move and one that, in my opinion, is petty and spiteful.
Players traveled away from home, played a full 60 minutes for free to benefit charity, and interacted with and happily signed autographs until midnight. The NHL, meanwhile could not swallow their pride and compromise for just one night; a night meant to benefit charity. And while there is no denying that greed is possessing both sides to some degree, it is clear to me which side has more appreciation for hockey itself and the fans who are dedicated to it.
Follow Me On Twitter: @Herman_NYRBlog
Email Me: AdamNYRBlog@gmail.com