Jeff O'Neill, alleged victim of online espionage.
On Wednesday, the Players' Association submitted another CBA proposal. It was summarily rejected by the NHL, who appear be playing the neutral zone trap in these negotiations, and shortly thereafter, several of the frustrated players took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.
"Classic Gary," said Colby Armstrong.
"Surprise surprise," said Michael Del Zotto, adding the hashtag "embarrasing".
Meanwhile, Brandon Prust suggested Gary Bettman's autobiography should bear the title, How I destroyed a sport and a nation.
But that's when retired NHLer Jeff O'Neill decided he'd had enough of these milquetoasts dancing around the issue and kicked the Bettman-bashing up a notch. Bam!
Actually, maybe not bam.
At the risk of incurring Jeff O'Neill's wrath, I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest this tweet might have crossed the line, especially since one assumes the former Carolina Hurricane doesn't mean to make this hole by piercing Bettman's ear.
A little over an hour later, O'Neill back-pedalled on becoming this lockout's Chris Chelios.
Perhaps. And perhaps someone hacked my pants in Call the Union.
Either way, it was an unfortunately timed tweet, as the implication that a player-- a retired player, yes, but a player -- wants to kill Gary Bettman was juuuuust sensational enough to offset the attempt by several other players to swing the P.R. pendulum towards the union.
Kevin Shattenkirk tried to show his empathy for the fans:
A lot of great time and effort was put in our proposal today. We felt it was the best way to get closer to an agreement and made significant Movement in the direction of the NHL. It is hard and frustrating to get shutdown so quickly once again. We are willing, they are not. I apologize to the fans most importantly for being put through this day after day. We recognize your importance to this game. We are fighting to get this done ASAP so you can watch the game you love and we can play it once more. #Thefans #theplayers
Aw, look at our little hashtags, playing together. Maybe we're not so different after all.
I, like all of you, first and foremost am a HUGE hockey fan. I live and breathe the game. Have since I was 3. It hurts to see this happen to the best game on earth. The best athletes and the best fans in the world. The players are doing the best we can to return this game to the ice. But, it takes two to make a deal. It just seems the other side isn't willing to make it work. It hurts.
But, of course, it's hard to see the players as the sensitive, empathetic types when one of them is espousing bashing the commissioner's head in.
That said, I'm glad it happened. The players' Gary Bettman hatefest was getting out of hand, so hopefully O'Neill's account making it officially out of hand puts a stop to it. It's mindless, petty, misguided and silly at this point.