September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Bettman Briefs Media In New York, Liles Speaks Out

TSN aired live at about 3:30 P.M. ET in New York where, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, announced that the league will prepare to lockout as of this Saturday.  Though Gary Bettman had little “news” to report, Maple Leafs defenseman, John-Michael Liles, gave his two cents on the matter.

“When you get down to the brass tacks, it’s pretty misleading some of the numbers that they throw out.”  He went further to illustrate how the process has felt from the players’ perspective, “‘Hey, let’s put some more money in the owners’ pockets for now’ and then in five years they’re going to come back for more.”

Liles brings up a very important point to fans on both sides of the debate, as fans seem to have blame on players’ behalf as well as the owners’ side.  In defense of the players, any type of surrender at this point would typically be pressured to increase by the time the new Collective Bargaining Agreement would expire.  In this sense, the players are attempting to surrender as little as possible to the owners this time around.. it makes a lot of sense.  Even further, TSN’s Bob McKenzie, reported just prior to Bettman’s announcement, that he has been in on numerous recent NHLPA meetings.  He noted that he sensed the players believe they are more closely knitted together than the owners are, and that they expect the owners to give in first.  A very different atmosphere than that of the 2005 negotiations, where the players were divided were sitting ducks to the owners demands.

Bettman was quick to point out the recent reports of the “take it or leave it” proposal were completely untrue.  He made clear that the recent proposal would follow the same procedure as the ones before it.  He also stated that before the announcement, he had a show of hands from the 30 owners to ensure the support of this decision.  The vote was 30 in favour.  Bettman covered the percentage issue as well.  He said the percentages are deceiving, that there are too many variables to take the numbers at face value.  He also shed light upon the notion that the players have submitted a counter proposal since the league’s recent offer this week.  They haven’t.  “Twitter-verse and social media aside,” the league has not received a response from the players’ union, though he hopes to receive one before Saturday.

Donald Fehr, NHLPA’s Executive Director, spoke to the media hours earlier and sounded every bit as monotone.  The players feet they are being asked too much at once and are unwilling to submit the current demands.

After the announcement, McKenzie said the league’s standpoint is very clear-cut.  The league wants a significant cut in how much they pay out their players and eventually desire a 50/50 split at a consistent basis.  And until that happens, the league will lockout the players.

Long story short, little to no progress has been made.  The players will anticipate the owners to cave, while the owners will do the same.  The owners believe the players will first, by way of no paychecks.  The players, on the other hand, believe the owners are less motivated for another lockout than the last time around.

Though, it’s not official, and barring a miracle, it appears as though the NHL will be locked out indefinitely in two days’ time.  Be sure to keep those ears heightened just in case the impossible does happen by Saturday.




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