|03-01-2005, 06:11 PM||#1|
lets go partner
Join Date: Oct 2004
Hockey this fall???
The Associated Press
Updated: 8:16 p.m. ET March 1, 2005
NEW YORK - The NHL board of governors made two things quite clear Tuesday: there will be hockey in the fall and commissioner Gary Bettman will still be in charge.
On a day when players regrouped in Toronto and executives from all 30 teams gathered in New York, both sides issued stern declarations that there is unity in the ranks.
Bettman said he plans to invite the players’ association back to the bargaining table soon, but wouldn’t reveal if he will present a new proposal.
If a deal can’t be reached through negotiation, the league plans to explore all options — including using replacement players next season.
“We discussed a variety of options and I don’t want to focus on any one because it would seriously be misconstrued and be potentially inflammatory,” Bettman said. “The fact is there are lots of options.
“We discussed everything. But again, everybody’s first and primary focus is to make a deal with the union as quickly as possible.”
There might be some differences in opinion among the players and the owners, but no cracks in the foundation even though the NHL recently became the first major North American sports league to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.
DiPietro shakes hands with Esche
Mike Cassese / Reuters
Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, left, shakes hands with Flyers goalie Robert Esche as they leave a meeting with other locked-out players and Players Association executive Bob Goodenow in Toronto on Tuesday.
“There is no split whatsoever,” New Jersey Devils president Lou Lamoriello said. “There is total unanimity and there has been since Day One. I don’t see that ever changing.”
More than 150 of the NHL’s 700-plus players met with union leadership, while the governors gathered at the same hotel where Bettman imposed the lockout in September and wiped out the entire season two weeks ago.
At one point, only one executive from each team remained in the meeting room for an exclusive session. It was then that Bettman received total support from all the clubs.
“I can tell you we’re united,” Los Angeles Kings president Tim Lieweke said. “The 30 owners, I’ve never seen this group so solid behind the commissioner and behind the vision of where we need to go as a league.
“He speaks on our behalf and anyone that thinks he’s in trouble is wrong. Anyone that thinks there is division within the owners is wrong. We are very united. We have one voice, it’s Gary.”