SUN Hockey Pool

Linden to Bettman: it's your move

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

CHICAGO -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman won't be getting a new proposal from the NHL Players' Association anytime soon.

NHLPA president Trevor Linden told the Sun yesterday that the union isn't crafting another proposal after the league has twice rejected an offer by the players of salary cuts, a luxury tax and revenue sharing.

"We gave them the last one," said Linden, standing in the hallway of the Westin Airport Hotel following a meeting with 62 NHL agents. "Why should we bring the next one? It's their turn to come back to the table.

"What we gave them was a well thought out proposal. You know what they've given us? We got six concepts (July 21) that were less than 100 words each. We thought the last proposal we gave them was the model for what they wanted with revenue sharing ... To say the next proposal is going to come from us. That's not happening. I can tell you that."

If there was concern the agents were not going to buy into the program, that was quickly extinguished during yesterday's five-hour session with some of the league's most highly regarded power brokers.

Absent was Ottawa lawyer Larry Kelly, who has more than 50 clients with Octagon Hockey. He was home attending to personal matters, but his agency was represented by Allan Wash, Mike Liut and Brian Lawton.

The agents were left with the impression that the NHL has no interest in getting a deal done. Many have already started to accept the fact an impasse is going to be declared next September and the league will bring in replacement players.

"I can tell you that none of my players, and I don't know of any players, who would cross the line if the league decides to declare an impasse, which is what it looks like they're going to attempt at this point," said Walsh.

Sources say Goodenow and the NHLPA executive committee of Linden, Daniel Alfredsson, Bill Guerin, Bob Boughner, Arturs Irbe, Vincent Damphousse and Trent Klatt made a strong presentation to the agents.

They accused Bettman of not giving the owners all the information on the proposal that was made Sept. 9 and believe that not everybody in the league is buying into the NHL's insistence of getting a salary cap.

"Every agent came out of that room united behind the union and, more importantly, their players are united behind the union," said Walsh. "Right now, there appears to be a great likelihood that there will be no season.

"We believe the owners have never been informed by the commissioner regarding what was put on the table to them. The league has indicated that (it) will not consider negotiating anything other than hard salary cap. With that kind of position, what is there to negotiate? I believe the union is prepared to negotiate a fair deal to address the league's concerns."

The agents believe their clients are willing to lose the season if that's what it takes to avoid having a system they find restrictive forced upon them by Bettman.

"The one thing I can't figure out is why Gary Bettman feels he has to get this system all at once," said Pat Brisson, co-managing director of IMG Hockey. "To me, they should try to get a three-year deal in place to get hockey back on the ice and then continue negotiating."


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