After last night's game in North Bay, the assembled media wanted to speak with Chris Simon about how he felt playing a game in Northern Ontario, closer for an NHL game than he's ever been to his home in Wawa. I went to Chris and explained why they wanted him, that it wasn't to rehash last season's incident with Hollweg. Si was happy to do it, then I mentioned there was a good chance we might walk by Gary Bettman on the way to the press area.
So we make the walk and practically run right into the commish. The hallway got a little quieter as everyone noticed Simon was about to greet (or not!) the man who presides over the league that gave him a landmark suspension. What people don't understand, however, is this is Chris Simon.
The commissioner very classily put his left arm on Simon's shoulder, shook his hand and asked how the Islander's offseason was. Chris was extremely pleasant, smiling, returning the warm exchange. Bettman and Simon continued to talk for a while and then the cameras started going off from everywhere.
I'm standing there thinking, This is fantastic. Nice turn of the page. Two professionals, two men showing there are no hard feelings. What a great image. I love this game.
I get the paper at the North Bay airport this morning and there's this huge picture on the front page of the local paper capturing the moment. Only problem is, the frame the editors picked is of Chris looking grim and Gary pointing at him. The photo caption reads, "NHL commissioner Gary Bettman makes his point with suspended Islanders forward Chris Simon after last night's game."
Oh well. You'll have to take my word for it.
One final nugget from Hockeyville. A young colleague of mine, completely single, decides he's met the latest life-partner of his dreams, a young woman from North Bay, Ontario. He asks her if she would like to join him and his Islander friends for dinner. She replies with a rejection that is one for the books: "Sorry, but I'm just not feeling very social tonight."