We have a great game. You have spent your careers and lives in service to that belief. It is your responsibility and sacred duty to do everything and anything in your power to ensure that NHL officiating remains beyond reproach. We have a great game and we need to keep it that way. The fans of tomorrow depend upon it.
I "bet" David Stern thought he had a great game, until Tim Donaghy blew the roof off. Not only did this veteran official, allegedly, fix games - which is a major sin in any professional sport - he also, allegedly, bet on games that he was officiating. If there isn't a special place in the 7th level of sports hell for someone who knowingly fixes and bets on his own games in that position of trust and responsibility, then there is something really wrong with our universe. I hope for the sake of the NBA, that he was a lone gunman and not a piece of a much more malignant puzzle. We will see and the truth will come out. I just hope the NHL is watching...because the fan of tomorrow is.
There will not be one foul call in the NBA next season where one of the parties doesn't turn to the ref and say, "How much do you have on tonight's game, ref?"
The entire image of the league and its officials is currently up for grabs.
Can you imagine that question, that moment of uncertainty as to whether the game was being called according to the way it should be, being asked of Don VanMassenhoven, Rob Shick or Paul Devorski? I cannot. It makes me cringe to consider it...and yet. Why should the NHL be any different? Are they not human? Are they not subject to greed, the feeling of being all-powerful and the silly notion that they are somehow above the law? I cannot answer those questions, but I can offer one suggestion.
Please, please, please do whatever is necessary to safeguard the reputation of NHL officiating. There is no greater sin than a player or official betting on the game. The players have their own issues concerning gambling...see Operation Slapshot. It is up to you to hold yourselves to a higher standard. I am not sure the NBA will recover from this scandal...and frankly I don't care other than it could happen to my game.
A writer of Latin maxims in the 1st century BC named Publilius Syrus once wrote, "What is left when honor is lost?" What truly? I am not sure. But of one thing I am sure, I don't want the NHL to walk a mile in the NBA's footsteps. The NBA is damaged goods.
The young fans of tomorrow are watching. They might not know they are watching, but they are. Please don't disappoint them.