NEW YORK _ A meeting between a small group of NHL owners and players set for Tuesday isn't what it seems to be, according to a source close to the collective bargaining negotiations.
Trumpeted as a way for the two sides to air their grievances without the influential input of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman or NHLPA executive director Don Fehr, the meeting is actually an elaborate way to throw Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs a one-of-a-kind birthday party, the source tells Lighthouse Hockey.
Bettman has been planning the party for months and arrangements have been made to have cake, balloons, games and performers at the meeting's location upon Jacob's arrival Tuesday afternoon. Scheduled guests include Bruins mascot Blades the Bear, a local math-magician, celebrity illusionist Criss Angel and at least one mime.
"Gary really wanted to go all out and throw Mr. Jacobs the biggest birthday party ever," said the source under condition of anonymity. "Pretending to invite some players to a CBA meeting is a great way to catch Jacobs off guard. He'll have no idea that everyone will be waiting to surprise him."
The source could not say what gifts Jacobs would receive from either Bettman or any of other owners, but they did confirm that a card would be passed around for everyone to sign and personalize with birthday wishes for Jacobs. The players' messages will be monitored carefully to prevent any obscene or insensitive remarks from making on the card.
"What do you get for the man who has almost everything," asked the source. "I mean, besides 43 percent of HRR, a 24 percent rollback in salaries and non-guaranteed contracts. I think (Tampa Bay owner) Jeff Vinik is getting Jacobs a WiiU and (Islanders owner) Charles Wang may have gotten him a couple of tickets to a Nets game."
"Obviously, I'd rather not go," said Red Wings defenseman Ian White, who has had strong words for Bettman and the owners since the lockout began. "Some of the hardliner guys throw the worst birthday parties. Y'know they serve stale Chex Mix and those knock-off fat Cheez Doodles that come in the giant plastic barrel. I mean, these guys are billionaires and all we're asking for are salami and macadamia nuts and real Cheez Doodles. We only want what we're worth in snacks. It'll be interesting for sure, yeah."
The "meeting" is set to happen at 2 pm Tuesday, but Jacobs is scheduled to arrive with Penguins owner Ron Burkle around 2:15, allowing guests to park around the block so he can't see anyone's cars.
No, silly, this isn't real. Jacobs' birthday isn't until January 21st.