Ex-NHL’er says he wants to “make whole” in Gary Bettman’s head

Jonathan Willis
November 21 2012 05:21PM

Another day, another rejected proposal to end the 2012 NHL Lockout, another slew of tweets from partisans on both sides. While a number of current and former NHL players had strong words for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, it was retired NHL’er Jeff O’Neill who made the stupidest comment on the day.

Via his verified Twitter feed, O’Neill said the following:

And Bettman stop talking to the media. I wanna 'make whole' in your fkn head.

The comment prompted immediate condemnation and shortly after making it O’Neill deleted the tweet from his feed, replacing it with this comment:

My last tweet was inappropriate. Someone hacked my acct.

I’m not sure that O’Neill’s comments are at the same level as Chris Chelios’ in 1994 (see the video below) but they were foolish all the same.

Puck Daddy has a nice piece up on ‘the day in NHL players on Twitter’ but it did omit two of my favourite comments. First, from Michael Del Zotto, lamenting the lack of an agreement:

Better still was Brandon Prust’s response to a (seemingly since-deleted) tweet asking him sarcastically where he learned economics:

From a PR standpoint, individual players and ex-players can be both the union’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness. To cite one example, the work of Brad Richards and others to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims has shown the best side of the NHLPA membership – and a quick scroll through his Twitter feed shows how well he’s used social media to advance important projects. While not connected to the lockout negotiations, that work reflects well on both the individuals involved and on players as a group.

But then there are comments like O’Neill’s, which fairly or not will be lumped in with other examples of anti-Bettman rhetoric – such as Prust’s earlier comment that Gary Bettman’s autobiography would be entitled, “how I destroyed a sport and a nation.” At best, those comments come across as childish and make the players seem less sympathetic; at worst they could inject needless additional anger into lockout discussions.

Hopefully O’Neill’s clearly inappropriate comments will put the brakes on the latter sort of chatter, at least for a short time.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 yawto
November 21 2012, 05:42PM
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Not like any of these guys have had a job based on intelligence in the fist place.

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#2 G Money
November 21 2012, 05:53PM
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Ultimately, the agreement is a battle between a bunch of hard-nosed highly successful businessmen and a bunch of athletes for whom brains are an option to begin with, and often (sadly) damaged to end with.

No surprise that the difference in the Twitterverse content of the NHL vs NHLPA reflects that.

@JW Typographical note: 'To site one example' -> 'To cite one example'. (Damn my nitpicking non-hockey-playing grammatical sensibilities!)

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#3 BeerLeagueLegend
November 21 2012, 05:54PM
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Great article illustrating NHLPA's inferior intelligence by a a so-called 'professional writer' that doesn't even understand the difference between 'site' and 'cite'... Your grade 5 teacher would be proud.

Bravo genius!

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#6 Jasmine
November 21 2012, 06:17PM
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Don't forget, Fehr ruined baseball and the reason the Expos moved. The Expos never recovered from the '94 lockout. This is Fehr's 6th lockout. He destroyed MLB and will do the same to the NHL.

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#7 T__Bone88
November 21 2012, 06:22PM
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It's comments like those made by O'Neill, Prust etc. that made some fans and myself included sway to the owners side. I applaud Hamrlik for actually taking a step back and see both sides. I wonder if he will be outcast now for making the comments he did. I wish the players would stop making these idiotic comments and look at the league as a whole rather than a 'me' mentality. You would think some players would realize that a 57/43 split isn't feasible when you have some teams barely scraping by to pay them. Record revenue doesn't mean profit, the cost of things have gone up since 2005. I agree though that both Fehr and Bettman have done a poor job of negotiating but don't finger point and wish harm upon someone doing their job.

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#8 PaperDesigner
November 21 2012, 06:30PM
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BeerLeagueLegend wrote:

Great article illustrating NHLPA's inferior intelligence by a a so-called 'professional writer' that doesn't even understand the difference between 'site' and 'cite'... Your grade 5 teacher would be proud.

Bravo genius!

You know what isn't professional? Insulting a man's intelligence and accusing him of bias with no supporting argument. That more or less illegitimizes your statement.

It's called a typo. It tends to happen on this internet thing.

I really wish this stopped being about how many players resort to name-calling out of frustration, and how Fehr and Bettman can't get along. Is Bettman so deeply incapable of getting a season started? Good grief. Does every other sport grind to a halt any time their CBA is up?

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#9 G Money
November 21 2012, 06:39PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

On the grammar: Thanks! Fixed.

I'd argue the battle is between two extremely sophisticated primaries - Bettman and Fehr - and that Bettman has a constituency of men who have shown their business acumen by acquiring fortunes (in other words: financially sophisticated) whereas Fehr's constituency is much more varied, with many very bright, educated individuals and others who may not have the same grasp of the issues as their more-informed brethren.

Like all blanket prejudicial statements, it's easy to prove mine wrong!

For sure, there are two sophisticated players in Bettman and Fehr. It's also a given that wealth definitely does not equate to intelligence or rationality (hello Mr. Trump and most of the Republican Party). And of course, there are examples of intelligent and well-spoken hockey players.

In the big picture, though, what I would say is that most of the folks on the NHL owners side will understand that this is a business negotiation, and furthermore that such negotiations don't usually end well if you take the other sides position personally. It doesn't seem like many of the players understand this.

And the Twitter and media results reflect this. I think this would be mostly (albeit less so) true, even if a gag order were not on the owners. Even the existence of the gag order suggests that the NHL understands the situation and the NHLPA doesn't!

@BeerLeagueLegend - I infer from your post - which is irrational, reactionary, and unnecessarily personal - that you must be a member of the NHLPA.

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#10 RexLibris
November 21 2012, 06:44PM
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Perhaps Jonathan was at the cutting edge of espeak, by using the term site to reference something on the internet.

Okay, I'm stretching there, but it is possible.

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#11 Captain Obvious
November 21 2012, 06:52PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Don't forget, Fehr ruined baseball and the reason the Expos moved. The Expos never recovered from the '94 lockout. This is Fehr's 6th lockout. He destroyed MLB and will do the same to the NHL.

Baseball has gone almost 20 years without a labour stoppage, all with Fehr at the helm of their PA. The facts appear to indicate that Fehr saved baseball.

As a matter of principle baseball's collective agreement is clearly superior to hockey's. This is supported by the fact that neither the owners nor the players appear to want to change it.

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#13 TigerUnderGlass
November 21 2012, 07:26PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Not trying to 'illustrate the NHLPA's inferior intelligence.' We'd doubtless have a host of silly, emotional comments from owners too: except that the NHL has put a gag order in place. When one side can talk and the other can't, only one side says foolish things.

Still, I applaud the fact that you see me as a pro-owner partisan. The last few weeks I've generally been labelled a pro-player partisan, and variety is the spice of life after all.

Impossible. No owner of a professional sports franchise (Dan Gilbert) would ever make an ill-advised (Dan Gilbert), Knee-jerk (Dan Gilbert), statement in response to something he didn't like!

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#14 Time Travelling Sean
November 21 2012, 07:37PM
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Why is this so difficult? Make a deal both sides feel uncomfortable with, it's usually the best one. End the lockout please.

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#15 BigE91
November 21 2012, 09:31PM
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It would seem that the players are between a rock and a hard place at this point. They thought hiring Donald Fehr was a major coup and it certainly could have been if they had laid out some sort of reasonable plan for their union boss to follow. Instead they gave him all the power to make a deal and though many may be wanting to get back to playing they have to portray a unified front because firing another union boss in consecutive lockouts would diminish any credibility the players had left.

If they lose this season it's on the players.

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#16 Dawn
November 21 2012, 09:33PM
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Lots of people getting abusive, including many with no stake in the debate other than missing out on their favourite TV show. Sad state of affairs.

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#17 The Oilers Shot Clock
November 21 2012, 09:37PM
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I heard Jeff O'Neill was so scared to fly that it really shortened his career. He has some pretty funny and almost witty tweets at times...Im sure that one just got away from him. Thats the problem with instant media.

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#18 dougtheslug
November 21 2012, 09:52PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Don't forget, Fehr ruined baseball and the reason the Expos moved. The Expos never recovered from the '94 lockout. This is Fehr's 6th lockout. He destroyed MLB and will do the same to the NHL.

Baseball is ruined? Last time I looked it was going strongly into its 18th year of labour peace, and is far healthier than either hockey or basketball. This is Bettmans third lockout in less than 20 years. He is the common denominator, not Fehr. These so called "astute" businessmen that comprise the NHL owners, have never understood what they are selling.Was listening to some jock radio today - do you realize in 2005 the players offered the owners a frozen cap of 49 million, not tied to revenue, for the duration of the last CBA, and the owners TURNED IT DOWN. How far sighted was that? Now they are trying to make up for being made to look like monkeys in the last CBA, and they are going to drag the whole league over the cliff in the process. By the way, the Expos were killed by a terrible stadium to watch baseball in, a devalued Canadian dollar, and a city that was lukewarm to MLB at the best of times and 1995-2004 were never the best of times, with only one winning season. The 94 strike(it was a strike, not a lockout) had little to do with their demise.

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#19 Romanus
November 21 2012, 10:22PM
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Captain Obvious wrote:

Baseball has gone almost 20 years without a labour stoppage, all with Fehr at the helm of their PA. The facts appear to indicate that Fehr saved baseball.

As a matter of principle baseball's collective agreement is clearly superior to hockey's. This is supported by the fact that neither the owners nor the players appear to want to change it.

ya - and we get to watch the same teams in the playoffs every year.

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#21 The Soup Fascist
November 21 2012, 10:55PM
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Romanus wrote:

ya - and we get to watch the same teams in the playoffs every year.

That is certainly a problem but for me the bigger issue is the teams that spend no money, sign brutal (but cheap) players and have owners waiting for their portion of "revenue sharing" to feather their own nests. Then leaving the fans to watch minor league talent boot balls around. If I were a fan in KC, Houston or Miami - I would say no thanks. If that is a superior system, I will take a pass, thanks.

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#22 Tayranchula
November 21 2012, 11:18PM
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Honestly if it takes Jeff O'neil or Roman Hamrlik to come out in the media or twitter to say things like that to get those gready bastards to make a deal then Im fine with it.

This lockout has put me to my wits end cause the NHL is kinda of a joke. There friggen profession is to be sports entertainment and without the fans they would have nothing.

Imagine if I went into my boss's office and asked for a rise and he said no Im going to scale back your salary instead. What would I do quit or "GO ON LOCKDOWN" and then get fired. I lose either way.

YOU MAKE FRIGGEN MILLIONS PLAYING A PAST TIME AND YOU MAKE BILLIONS FROM MANAGING THEM. YOUR LIVING THE F#CKING DREAM accept it and stop being greedy. People have to work for a living and get paid a fraction in a lifetime to what those punks make. Life is much harder for those people and you dont hear them complaining like this in that manor.

Why doesnt every profession go into a lockout and see if we all get paid more? Wait stuff like that doesnt happen in the real world.

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#23 Puritania
November 22 2012, 02:25AM
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BeerLeagueLegend wrote:

Great article illustrating NHLPA's inferior intelligence by a a so-called 'professional writer' that doesn't even understand the difference between 'site' and 'cite'... Your grade 5 teacher would be proud.

Bravo genius!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cohlEmznmM

*nsfw*

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#24 book¡e
November 22 2012, 06:59AM
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I'd like to put a whole in Jeff O'Neil's head!

Sorry for the above statement, my account was hacked.

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#25 alphah.
November 22 2012, 09:55AM
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IMHO, Jeff O'Neill's comment was hilarious and the most entertaining thing to happen in the NHL this season. I have been really busy, but I can't even remember the last time there was a must-see game or big time highlight.

I think it is actually doubly hilarious that he followed up with "my account has been hacked" - personally I assume that is somewhat tongue in cheek, and just adds to the entertainment value. Awesome.

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#26 blue31
November 22 2012, 10:12AM
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NHL players = Punks with good genetics

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#27 Dallylamma
November 22 2012, 10:16AM
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The 'hacked account' excuse is the lamest excuse that ever lamed. It's as bad as the 'I'm sorry if you were offended' non-appology appology.

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#28 BucHussey
November 22 2012, 10:21AM
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Bobby "The Brain" Heenan = Donald Fehr Pallbearer = Gary Bettman

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#29 Gitagrip
November 22 2012, 10:36AM
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A tiny handful of players who publicly focus their ill advised rants against Bettman may actually believe that he, unilaterally, is making the decisions for the league. He's an employee, a negotiator, the spokesman for 30 owners. Every time I hear a player say Gary is some kind of "A Whole" I read and substitute the player's team owner's name in place of Bettman. "Hey Mr. Jacobs or Mr. Schnieder you're a cancer on the game." That makes the player sound a Whole lot smarter. Enough with the Bettman bashing. It's so moronic.

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#30 The Soup Fascist
November 22 2012, 10:59AM
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Dallylamma wrote:

The 'hacked account' excuse is the lamest excuse that ever lamed. It's as bad as the 'I'm sorry if you were offended' non-appology appology.

I do think it is either:

a) A somewhat self-effacing, tounge in cheek comment putting "MY last tweet" and "hacked MY account" in the same tweet. A clever way of making the best of a bad situation.

or

b) Jeff O'Neill could be the dumbest person in the world.

Hmm. Let's see. Rocked a mullet (only Smytty gets a pass here). Gave up a multi-million dollar career because he didn't like airplanes. Voluntarily asked to be traded to the Leafs in 2005 ??? WTF? ......bing bing bing... AND WE HAVE A WINNER!

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#31 Czar
November 22 2012, 12:27PM
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@Puritania

Well played sir! Your Mom wasn't reading over your shoulder was she?

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#32 Puritania
November 22 2012, 01:23PM
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Czar wrote:

Well played sir! Your Mom wasn't reading over your shoulder was she?

She provided the link!

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#33 Levi
November 27 2012, 10:28AM
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yawto wrote:

Not like any of these guys have had a job based on intelligence in the fist place.

Assuming a narrow definition of intelligence, there is actually a large degree intelligence required to play pro hockey, including fast decision making based on complex situations, focus, and making adjustments based on feedback. Plus, exercise has been shown to enhance cognitive function. Your comment is a common example of bigotry toward athletes.

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