Bettman's labour strategy divides WHL faithful

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:58 AM ET

Hockey fans in Calgary had a mixed reaction yesterday to the breakdown in negotiations between the NHL and its players association. The league and owners rejected the players' proposal, which included a 24% rollback in salaries, then made a counter-offer which the NHLPA rejected.

Some fans attending last night's WHL Calgary Hitmen/Kelowna Rockets clash think NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners dropped the ball.

"They should have accepted (the offer)," said Jon Schrieber, 18.

"It would have cut salaries right away. I thought the players actually wanted to get a deal done."

Since no further meetings are scheduled in the near future, Schrieber, a construction worker, isn't optimistic about any NHL hockey being played this season.

"I can't see it happening now," he said.

Jordan Levitt agreed.

"It's going to be tough (to get a season going) now," said the 18-year-old.

"The owners kind of look like the bad guys now."

Others praised Bettman and the owners for demanding a salary cap.

"The players make way too much money right now," said Jack Austin, a 39-year-old insurance salesman.

"I think the league is doing the right thing. They want a salary cap and it looks like they're prepared to wait it out, even if it means missing the entire season.

"(That) would be a shame but from what I heard on the radio today, the league looks like they means business and that's good."

Does Austin think he'll see the Calgary Flames in action this season?

"You hate to say no but right now it's looking pretty gloomy," he said.


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