Trudeau's hockey joke could prove to be costly for Canada

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Justin Trudeau poked fun at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during a press conference Thursday while announcing Canada’s newest professional sports team.

Toronto will be home to the first Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) franchise outside of the U.S. The yet-to-be named team is expected to begin play in May 2026.

While praising a number of individuals who helped secure the franchise, Trudeau also thanked WNBA commissioner Catherine Engelbert and used the opportunity to note the height disparity between Engelbert (5-foot-9) and Bettman (5-foot-7).

“You’re much taller than Gary Bettman, I’m really going to like working with you,” said Trudeau, who stands 6-foot-2.

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The quip was noticed by fans of the Edmonton Oilers, the lone Canadian franchise left in the NHL playoffs.

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The Oilers, who also have the most Canadians on their roster of any remaining team, are attempting to become the first Canadian franchise to win the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.

“Bettman will respond by having the Oilers swept,” one user posted on X, echoing a flood of similar comments that the NHL would look to take revenge on the team for the joke.

“Canada not winning a cup anytime soon now,” added another.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert carries a basketball on the floor of the New York Stock exchange as she prepares to ring the opening bell during morning trading
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert carries a basketball on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as she prepares to ring the opening bell during morning trading on May 17, 2024 in New York City. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Bettman is not only the longest-serving commissioner in NHL history but also the longest-serving commissioner in the history of major North American professional sports. He took the reins of the league on Feb. 1, 1993.

During his tenure the league has seen the addition of eight new teams, with one Canadian team, the Winnipeg Jets, being added through relocation.

The Jets, who lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Colorado Avalanche, made the move north from Atlanta in 2011.

Trudeau was not the only politician on hand to celebrate the new WNBA franchise, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow also in attendance.

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