"Gary Bettman, Commissioner of Christmas" is a holiday poem, written by Harrison Mooney with illustrations by the inimitable Chloe Ezra. When Santa enlists Gary Bettman to help muscle his elves down to a smaller share of Holiday-Related Revelry, Gary gets more than be bargained for! Can Bettman and the elves agree to a new CBA in time to save Christmas?
Because we love you and because it's Christmas, Puck Daddy offers two ways to experience the poem.
Option 1: Have it read to you by yours truly and Greg Wyshynski (as Gary Bettman!).
Option 2: Read this holiday tale at your own pace, with full illustration but without the silly voices, after the jump:
In Santa's shop, where Christmastime's the time of year most prized,
The elves' belief in labour rights is often vocalized.
They may be Santa's helpers, and they may be under-sized,
But they stand tall together ever since they unionized.
No elf will tolerate unsafe conditions or abuses,
They all insist on dental, pensions, health care and masseuses.
What's more, they want a cut of snacks that Santa's ride produces:
All chocolate, candy canes and cakes, all milk and Christmas mousses.
See, Santa doesn't gobble all those cookies on the spot,
Nor does he drink a glass of nog til' all the elves have got
The Holiday-Related Revelry he must allot --
The H.R.R. their bargaining agreement says he ought.
But one day, Santa checked the books, and said, "They've gone too far!"
"Those greedy elves are getting more than half of H.R.R.!"
The children of the world leave out these snacks for me, but our
Arrangement has estranged me from my once-full cookie jar!"
"We must re-work the CBA to fix this fatal flaw,"
He muttered. But he was no labour lawyer -- this, he saw.
"There was an elf," he thought, "Who left the Pole to practice law.
Perhaps he'll represent me." Santa stroked his bearded jaw.
So Santa gathered Cupid, Comet, Vixen and the crew,
Then off to Gary Bettman's house the man and reindeer flew.
"I need a favour, Gary," said he, "What am I to do?"
I need to crush a union. No one does it quite like you."
"Please help," said Santa, "I've got no ideas whatsoever."
And Gary Bettman nodded, then he promised to endeavour.
He looked the offer over, and said, "Here's a clause to sever:
These lifetime contracts have to go, since elves can live forever.
"And sleigh fuel costs are off the charts. Those reindeers really pack
The butter tarts away! It must be all that weight in back."
Then Bettman said, "It's part of why you're never in the black.
The elves should pay for some of that, since they fill up the sack."
"We'll get 'em," Bettman said, as Santa steered the North-bound herd,
"You'll have your new agreement by December 23rd."
And there, inside the open sleigh, all airborne like a bird,
His title as Commissioner of Christmas was conferred.
So Bettman drafted his proposal, soon thereafter sent,
Informing all the elves they'd now get forty-three per cent
Of Christmas goods. They balked. To show the business that he meant,
He kicked the elves out, locked the shop and, whistling, off he went.
Next day, he ventured out to see the elves and speechified
That it would take shared sacrifice to bridge this great divide.
"What sacrifices have you made?" The angry elves replied.
"I came out here," said Bettman, "And it's really cold outside."
The elves were unimpressed, so Bettman pressed, "Now hear this: there'll
Be no Christmas at all if dialogue remains this sterile.
If you had any passion for the season you imperil,
You'd sign." But they just turned their backs, and sang a Christmas carol.
Eventually, some elves got bored with huddling in the breeze.
Some headed back to elf school. Others headed overseas
To work as Pere Noel or Sinter Klaas's employees,
While Bettman and the Union tried to figure out the freeze.
October and November passed, the elves refused to budge.
With CBA negotiating slowing to a trudge,
The Union gave a stipend of ten thousand pounds of fudge
To every hungry elf (a sort of "you hang in there" nudge).
A 50/50 split was offered, but provisional
On no transition pay. "But then we won't be paid in full,"
The elves responded, "Santa has to make us ho-ho-whole."
"No," Bettman said, continuing the stoppage at the Pole.
"You have to solve this!" Santa cried, "Lest little girls and boys
Are made by this to suffer through a Christmas without toys!"
So Bettman tried a stratagem he oftentimes employs:
Attack the union rep to discombobulate their poise.
"He's after Christmas," Bettman told the elves. "No big surprise.
He's from the Easter Bunny Union. That's where his heart lies."
Some elves believed, but others said, "It's just a ploy, you guys."
And thus, it put the two sides further from a compromise.
A troubled Santa summoned Bettman, cheeks a cherry red.
"What's going on?!" He grumbled, nervous-eating gingerbread,
"We'll have to cancel Christmas if the elves don't pack the sled!
Assure me that won't happen, Gary." Here's what Bettman said:
"I think the elves hate Christmas with a fiery elven zeal.
If you ask me," he said, "They just don't want to make a deal.
I think they'd rather sit there in a snowbank than get real."
They'd rather freeze and starve to death, I think that's how they feel."
Around and round the drain, the whole of Christmas season swirled.
Until, by Christmas eve, no new agreement was unfurled.
So Bettman broke the news to Santa, upper lip all curled:
"It's all right," said he. "Christmas has the best fans in the world."
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney
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