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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The end is here

Gary Bettman and the owners have done what no other pro sports league has - cancelled an entire season. After 154 days of A lockout, it's finally over.

Bettman says that now that the season is over, the NHL has to go back to insisting on linkage out of necessity. He made it abundantly clear that their last offer is off the table.
"The best deal that was on the table is now gone....We're done losing money as a league, and we are willing to pay the players what we can afford, not a penny less and not a penny more....What's happening today and over the last six months, is about the long-term well being of the game.

Before we play again there will need to be a draft, but we haven't focused on that issue yet.

When you're out of time you need to be clear that you are not open to negotiation, this was to be made crystal cear that we had no more to give. Please stop fabricating this personality conflict between me and Bob, it doesnt exist, this isnt about Bob and its not about me."

I serve at the will of the board of governors, this is an industry that needed restructuring and thats what we're doing. If they decide that I'm no longer doing their will then thats an issue they will have to take up with me.

[impasse]I'm not here to issue any veiled threats, that's not what we've been about. Our goal is about making a deal.

We were too far apart and we werent as close as people think.

My biggest regret was that we could never get the union to look at the books."
I've paraphrased in a few instances, but the message is clear. The NHL has bent as far as they could afford to and they tried to get the NHLPA to see their point of view. What still remains unclear is what happens now? Bettman did not have a specific answer for that, although he indicated that there will be a season next year.

The news conference is still going on, and before I officially comment on what I make of it, I'll have to take a while and reflect on what was said.

Note: The NHLPA will be speaking at a 1pm news conference.


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