SUN Hockey Pool

Proposal 'a real slap in the face'

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 6:41 AM ET

BERN, Switzerland -- Tie Domi isn't one of the big-money superstar players that Gary Bettman wants to take a 35% or less pay cut. But he hangs around with them.

''They're the elite players in the league. The superstars of the world. And a lot of those guys are here. And they're really insulted," he said.

''To the star players, the ones who sell the game, this is a real slap in the face. I'm not too optimistic there is going to be a season. It's a shame.''

There are 21 players in the NHL who are in the $35 million-plus range. The owners' proposal hits them with a 35% pay cut.

They include Sergei Fedorov, Rob Blake, Mats Sundin and Martin Brodeur on this Worldstars Tour, which hit its fifth of 10 stops here last night.

Brendan Shanahan, who played his first game here last night, is in the next group, which would get hit at 30%. The reaction from players was surprisingly varied.

''They added everything up and put a cap on it,'' said Brodeur.

''If they're going to put out a proposal like that, they might as well just put everyone out of their misery and call off the season. All of us over here have been hopeful that there's going to be a season. All our hopes are gone now.''

Fedorov has always said he felt both sides have to be happy to do a deal. But now he's lost his hope for that

''They ripped the ground out from under our feet. At this moment I feel the frustration of every player and every fan," he said.

"Gary Bettman doesn't want to have a season. He wanted to divide us.''

Blake said when the players got out of bed here yesterday they all filled the internet booths at the hotel to read the reports from back home.

''It doesn't look good at all.''

Softer in their stance were Sundin and Shanahan.

''We were hoping their offer would be a little bit closer, but there's still time,'' said Sundin. ''I'm still hopeful there is a season.''

Shanahan said it's a process.

''The players want to have a season," he said.

"And I think the owners, while they're not saying it, want to have a season as much as the players.''


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