So, we’re two and a half months into the latest NHL work stoppage, and of course, egos have become to biggest topic of conversation. Whether you’re talking about NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, whose “Napoleon Complex” transcends leagues, or NHLPA boss Donald Fehr, who bullied Major League Baseball owners into submission, that much is clear.

Now,  in its infinite wisdom, the NHL has come up with a way to have multiple egos on one side of the bargaining table at the same time. Among those are Toronto Maple Leafs’ co-owner Larry Tannenbaum and, the puppermaster himself and Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors, Boston Bruins’ owner, Jeremy Jacobs.

But, WHAT IF this exercise is nothing more than a way for the NHL to throw Bettman under the bus?

For weeks, we’ve heard rumblings that some of the league’s more moderate owners are upset with the NHL Commissioner’s handling of this labour dispute. In mid-November, Frank Seravalli of The Daily News reported that Philadelphia Flyers’ chairman Ed Snider was upset with Bettman.

There have been suspicions as well that Jacobs himself was fuming over this whole lockout fiasco. Many have questioned whether Bettman will survive once a new CBA has been signed. Only time will tell, I guess.

WHAT IF removing Bettman and Fehr for the bargaining equation was the brainstorm of the NHL’s Big 3 power owners?

Jeremy Jacobs, Ed Snider and Rocky Wirtz (Chicago) have long been considered “THE” owners in the NHL for years. In fact, Snider played a huge role in hiring Gary Bettman back in 1992. Is it possible that these owners have gotten sick and tired of Bettman’s negotiating tactics, just as the players have?

That said,…

WHAT IF MSG CEO James Dolan were to get a say in this next round of negotiations?

Many believe that Dolan doesn’t really care about how long the NHL lockout runs. After all, Madison Square Garden is the busiest venue in the world and can have NHL games replaced in an instant with something else. In fact, most believe that MSG is raking in more dough now than if the Rangers were actually playing, especially given the recent success of the NBA’s New York Knicks.

And WHAT IF the fan that confronted Gary Bettman was a plant by Dolan, as a public relations stunt?

While it’s hard to believe the league would try to pull something like that off, if I was that fan and was chastised by Bettman like that, I wouldn’t be nearly as “civil” as he was. “I’m sorry. And Happy Thanksgiving to you, too?” I could think of a lot more poignant words to throw at the NHL commish, that would really give beat writers something to clammer about.

Assuming this hypothetical was true, would we really want Mr. Dolan at the bargaining table? Given the Rangers contribution to the current situation, with their history of player overpayment, my answer would be a resounding, “HELL NO!!!”

Where are the owners that are affected most by the work stoppage?

WHAT IF Geoff Molson, who’s not only losing gate and merchandise dollars, but Molson-Coors is taking a severe financial beating, were among those at the bargaining table?

Wouldn’t an owner whose “toy” is effecting his bottom line on more than one front have a better view of the entire situation? Of course, seeing as how honest and straight forward Molson is, he doesn’t fit in with the other big-wigs in the NHL.

Really, WHAT IF???