LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) - Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr is calling on National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and players union executive director Bob Goodenow to ''get out of the way'' if they can't solve the impasse that triggered the cancellation of the NHL's season.
In a column written for the Sunday Eagle-Tribune, the 1970s hockey star wrote, ''Our sport is in danger of becoming irrelevant unless both sides immediately put an end to this nonsense.''
Orr said in his column published Sunday that he initially resisted the urge to comment on the labour dispute and resulting shutdown of the NHL's season because he believed the two sides would resolve their differences for the good of the game.
But he said he no longer believes either side was interested in getting a fair deal done.
Owners and players must demand that Bettman and Goodenow meet immediately, and keep meeting until they emerge with either an agreement or a statement that they can't resolve their differences and they are stepping aside, Orr wrote.
Representatives of the owners and the players union have met better than three dozen times since their collective bargaining agreement expired last Sept. 15, the day Bettman declared the lockout that ended the season. The two sides have failed to resolve differences that made the NHL the first major sports league in North America to lose an entire season to a labour dispute.
Orr, 57, still lives in Boston and operates a hockey player sports agency. The married father of two grown sons remains one of the most revered figures in hockey. His No. 4 Bruins jersey was retired by the team in 1979 after a brilliant career cut short by a bad knee.
A panel of experts assembled by The Hockey News voted him one of the game's three greatest players of the 20th century, along with Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky.
Orr won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman a record eight consecutive times and was the league's most valuable player three times. He remains the only defenceman to win the league scoring championship, a feat he accomplished twice.