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Trudeau’s missed shot on NHL commissioner’s height called a foul

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PM’s joke targeting Gary Bettman at WNBA announcement raises eyebrows

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As soon as the Edmonton Oilers heard Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s short joke at NHL boss Gary Bettman, we suspect they feared there may be no Stanley Cup parade once again north of the border.

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“WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, thank you Cathy for all your leadership (and) for being here today,” said the prime minister from the podium at the announcement of Toronto being awarded an expansion franchise. “You are much taller than Gary Bettman, I am really going to like working with you significantly.”

Everybody knows there’s no height shaming in basketball! Somebody should have told Trudeau.

The WNBA has not even played a minute in Toronto so far but already has seen its foul call.

It seems for Trudeau, it’s all about people’s perceived feelings unless he’s the one saying it.

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Previous stories say basketball star Engelbert is 5-foot-9 while Bettman, a lawyer who has been NHL boss for three decades, is listed to be 5-foot-7.

But why does 6-foot-2 Trudeau care how tall or short they are?

Commenting on Bettman’s height was just as weird as talking about Engelbert’s stature. It was a strange one-liner people didn’t know what to do with. Self-proclaimed feminist Trudeau chuckled but not too many others did. It was like a three-pointer that missed this net completely.

Or missing the net in the wrong sport.

From left: Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Larry Tanenbaum of Kilmer Sports Ventures and WNBA Toronto team president Teresa Resch pose for a photo.
From left: Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Larry Tanenbaum of Kilmer Sports Ventures and WNBA Toronto team president Teresa Resch pose for a photo. The Canadian Press

Bettman is the commissioner of the NHL and has no connection at all to this league or this event. Yet, he was the butt of the joke. This event went from being about women’s basketball coming to Canada to hockey, just like that. As soon as TSN broadcast the remark live, the social media referees were blowing their whistle.

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And fearing this could mean the Canada-not-winning-the-Stanley-Cup-drought for three decades might continue.

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“Can you imagine a leader of a country saying something petty and demeaning to someone who isn’t even in the room?” Andi posted to X.

“We look forward to him being a full-time comedian,” teased San Austonio.

“This is like the obnoxious drunk dude at the party making short jokes because he thinks being tall is an accomplishment,” joked Huge Ackman.

League commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a news conference in Las Vegas, June 22, 2016.
League commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a news conference in Las Vegas, June 22, 2016. Photo by John Locher /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

But not everybody was offended.

“Ha, ha, had! Good poke,” said Chris Cocek.

“That’s so savage, I love it,” chimed Margann Laurissa.

But a common theme was what this shot from a Canadian prime minister could possibly mean to the Edmonton Oilers’ chances in the NHL playoffs.

“Great. Bettman is never going to let a Canadian team win now. Thanks.”

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“Bettman will respond by having the Oilers swept,” Sports Expert posted to X.

It was just one of those rim shots that didn’t go in. It’s not the first time for Trudeau or his government to see attempts at humour go south. Trudeau is also known for using names for Canadians he doesn’t like like “flat earthers” or anti-vax mobs. Like most people in politics, he can dish it out better than he takes it.

Who can forget the famous retort to a woman in a town hall talking about love for mankind when Trudeau interjected “we like to see peoplekind” because “it’s just more inclusive.”

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The joke at the expense of Bettman’s height is just one day removed from Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland teasing that Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre was “wearing more makeup” than she was.

Is it just words and people should lighten up? Or is it only considered words when it’s not a Conservative making the socially awkward faux pas?

Fair questions but one thing noteworthy is on Engelbert’s X account there was no mention of being in Toronto for the announcement or any clip from the prime minister or his missed dunk on Bettman and herself.

jwarmington@postmedia.com

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