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Friday, February 25, 2005

Burke in no mood to simmer down


For those who know anything about Brian Burke, you know that his passion is undeniable and it spills over into his interviews. Last night on CKNW's Sportstalk with Dan Russell, Burke was again on the livid side as he was in his weekend confrontations with Glen Healy on TSN.

For the record, my opinion of Dan Russell is that he is fully capable of conducting a fair interview, however his obvious distaste for Gary Bettman and the NHL owner's group has become extremely prevalent over the last couple of months. He does not seem to hold much objectivity on the NHL labour dispute and constantly harps on the NHL and Bettman for almost everything that they do, yet at the same time, he rarely critiques the equally befuddled NHLPA and their cantankerous actions.

Having said that, we all know which side of the fence Burke sits on. Needless to say, the interview was rather confrontational.

During the interview, Brian gave his account of what actually happened last week.
"I received calls from a prominent player, followed by some other discussions with other prominent players who were saying that there is a deal to be made and could you get the other side to the table...

I can tell you that the script was written [for a deal].

He [Gary Bettman] gets calls from people like me, saying that we may be able to save the season if you just reach out, and he did, and it backfired.

On this particular transaction, you can lay 100% of the blame on the NHLPA for renegging on this deal. It wasn't Gary Bettman..."
Burke's account of what happened in the meeting room on Saturday between the NHLPA and the NHL sheds an unflattering light on the PA. To sum it up, Burke explains that several prominent players were in contact with people on the NHL side asking them to contact the union because a deal is there to be made.

So, Gary Bettman does reach out to the players and invites them to the table under the impression that there is a negotiable deal to be made and the NHLPA is willing to make major concessions. However, when they get face to face, the NHLPA basically sandbags the league by refusing to talk about a salary cap number and tries to force the league to accept the NHLPA's views on qualifying offers, arbitration and indexing of the salary cap number (which amounts to upwards linkage), before even entertaining the notion of a salary cap level.

In summation, Burke says that Bettman was reaching out to the NHLPA, risking the embarassment of 'un-cancelling' the season, because he is under the impression that the union wants to do a deal immediately. Instead, what actually happens is the NHLPA had no intentions of making a deal and had actually taken a leap backwards in negotiations, leaving the league with egg on their face and looking as though they are to blame.

So, do we believe Burke on the events that happened? Well, personally, I do. Burke is a stand-up and classy guy - he may be abrasive and short-tempered, but he's not a liar.

What I find completely ludicrous about the events of last weekend is the fact that the NHLPA complains that there is no upwards movement in the NHL's cap level over the duration of the deal. Well, DUH!?!?!? That's called linkage you nutbags. You fought that tooth and nail for the last six months yet now you whine because there's no upward pressure on a salary cap level as revenues rise. Morons.

Anyways, dig in, because I have many more rants to go before my star burns out. You can listen to the entire interview on CKNW's audiovault.

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