Bettman talks labour dispute on TSN
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman sat down with TSN's Gord Miller on
Monday for a rare TV interview to talk about the labour dispute.
When asked about NHL players like Mike Commodore and Pierre Dagenais
publicly expressing concerns over whether they are being fairly
represented by their union, Bettman did not give it much credence.
''I view it as a part of the process,'' said Bettman. ''My guess is
that there are players who have views that differ from the union
leadership. I'm not surprised, because in that context it is hard to
believe that all 700 plus players would believe and agree on the same
thing. I don't make too much out of it. Obviously we are aware of
it, but it is not anything that we focus on with a great deal of
emphasis or interest.''
Bettman also said in the interview that he is not optimistic about an
NHL season taking place.
''We are still, interestingly enough, in a context where the union is
still denying that we have problems. It's very difficult to negotiate
over solutions to problems that everybody in the world except union
leadership believes exists. I think this is a union that is deadline
hunting; unfortunately, I think the season may slip away without a
Bettman maintains that ownership is willing to wait as long as
necessary to get a deal done that works for the NHL in the long term.
''I say this - and I hate when I say it - we lose less money when we
are not playing. The problems are so severe that we need to fix it
the right way. The damage we will suffer if we don't fix it, now
that we have the opportunity to do it, is incalculable.''
NHLPA meetings set to show solidarity
TORONTO (CP) - Tuesday's meeting by the NHL Players' Association has
been planned for nearly a month, billed as a routine update on the
labour dispute so player reps can brief their teammates back home.
But thanks to comments from Mike Commodore, Pierre Dagenais, Brian
Pothier and Rob Ray, the gathering at an airport hotel is doubling as
a timely show of unity seven weeks into the lockout.
``I think it's great timing, a great chance for everyone to get
together and confirm that we are on the same page. I believe that we
are,'' said veteran centre Todd Marchant, player rep for the Columbus
Some 70-80 players are expected to be at the meeting, player reps
along with other players who wanted to attend.
The players' executive committee will be there: president Trevor
Linden, and vice-presidents Bob Boughner, Vincent Damphousse, Daniel
Alfredsson, Bill Guerin, Trent Klatt and Arturs Irbe.
They were due to arrive in Toronto on Monday and attend an NHLPA
dinner. Tuesday's meeting starts at 8 a.m. EST at the Sheraton hotel
at Pearson International Airport and is expected to wrap up between 2
and 4 p.m.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is staying out of the fray.
Asked by The Canadian Press what his message would be if he could
talk to the players at the meeting, Bettman demurred.
``For me to suggest the message would be both presumptuous and
potentially inflammatory, so I won't do that,'' Bettman said Monday
from New York.
``I'm assuming they're going to have a good meeting, hopefully it
will be a candid exchange of opinions and that possibly they'll come
out of this meeting ready to move forward with meaningful
Bettman also was diplomatic on the issue of players like Commodore,
Dagenais and Pothier - fringe players low on the NHL food chain - who
have broken ranks.
``It's obviously something that we're aware of but it's not something
that we put too much stock in at this point,'' said Bettman. ``There
are over 700 players and I'm sure there's a variety of opinions on
The league and union haven't held bargaining talks since Sept. 9 and
there are no bargaining sessions planned for the near future.
``If at any point in time the union is interested in resuming formal
negotiations, all they have to do is let us know and we'll be happy
to re-engage,'' Bettman said.
The union says the ball is in the league's court, arguing that it
made the last proposal - which the league rejected. Plus the NHLPA
says the league has made it clear: Don't come back to the table until
you want to talk salary cap.
Marchant says that's unfair.
``We all believe that the proposal we made certainly satisfies every
concern that the owners are looking for,'' he said. ``They're looking
for a correlation between revenues and spending. A luxury tax does
take care of that.
``We've talked about salary arbitration, we've talked about salaries
at the entry level. All these different components that make up the
old CBA have been altered to favour the owners, to make it better for
``But when Gary Bettman doesn't even want to look at that piece of
paper that we proposed, that is difficult. When they come back and
say hard cap or nothing, that's not negotiating, that's not trying to
get a deal done. That's trying to be the bully.''
Tuesday's meeting won't spark a new proposal for the owners.
Ted Saskin, the NHLPA's senior director, said last week that the
meeting is simply to update the players and answer their questions.
The lockout will reach seven weeks Wednesday and 127 games have been
scrapped on this season's schedule including Monday's original slate.
The agents will also get their say this month. The NHLPA has invited
player agents to a meeting in Chicago on Nov. 17 to discuss issues
surrounding the lockout. A large group is expected, including the
likes of Don Baizley, Don Meehan, J.P. Barry, Pat Brisson, Pat Morris
and Rick Curran.