SUN Hockey Pool

'Players are not going to accept a (salary) cap'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:47 AM ET

Until NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is willing to drop his demand for a salary cap, there's no sense going back to the bargaining table. That was the word from NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow in a conference call yesterday after Bettman announced the league has locked out its players.

"Every conversation we've had with the league involves salary cap, salary cap and salary cap," said Goodenow.

"There's no sense in trying to get a deal in place until they're willing to drop the discussion of a salary cap. The players are not going to accept a cap. We want a marketplace system. We want it left to the owners to decide the worth of a player. That's what we're hoping will take place here."

Goodenow also fired back at Bettman who accused the union of trying to force a lockout.

"To say we're trying to trigger a lockout is just stupid and ridiculous," said Goodenow. "These players want to be playing and the league has decided they're going to try to exert pressure on the players by making them suffer financially.

"This is the owners' lockout. They've made this decision to tell the players not to come to work.

"They're trying to force economic pressure on these players. I can tell you from all the meetings we've had with these players, they're resolved not to have a salary cap and they're willing to wait."

NHLPA president Trevor Linden said the players have been ready for this battle for a long time. He said the lockout in 1994 has prepared many of the players for what's taking place right now.

"This is not our decision not to play," said Linden from Vancouver. "We would rather play under the current system, but I guess the owners are, as you say, in a situation where they don't trust each other (not to spend). Players' salaries go up and they go down.

"I can't sit here and say 700 players don't want to be at work today. We have made proposals to try to get these issues settled and we offered them more than $100 million (all terms US) in givebacks. We've been willing to give up a lot and the players believe in the approach we're taking."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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