8

Great Teams Manage Through Ego and Conflict

“The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress.”

JOSEPH JOUBERT

It was February 22, 2005, a quarter of a century to the day of our victory over the Soviet Union at Lake Placid—and there had been no NHL hockey played all winter, actually longer than that. That's right. An irreconcilable dispute between NHL owners and players had resulted in an owner lockout of the players that began on September 16, 2004, and was still in effect more than five months later. Things wouldn't get resolved until the summer. No regular season. No playoffs. No Stanley Cup winner. It would be the first time in the history of professional sports in North America that an entire season was cancelled because of a labor dispute.

But on the 25th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice,” an incensed sports columnist named Gary Shelton, writing in the St. Petersburg Times, had hope for something of a season to be salvaged——and he invoked the better angels and example of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team in his attempt to persuade NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL Players Association executive director, Bob Goodenow, to return to the negotiating table. Here is an excerpt from Shelton's column:

Bring them into the room. Use force if necessary.

Cuff them. Carry them. Drag them. Gag them. Drop them off. Prop them up.

This is not a negotiation. This is an education. So put Bettman in this chair and Goodenow in that one. Dump the lackeys ...

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