Obviously, someone's abacus is missing a bead or two. Claiming the National Hockey League's numbers just don't add up, the union yesterday held a conference call in an attempt to point out how ludicrous the league's calculations were.
Union leader Bob Goodenow ripped into the league for misrepresenting and misinterpreting the NHLPA's recent proposal, which was rejected during a meeting between the two parties during a meeting in Toronto on Tuesday.
The normally composed Goodenow was especially steamed by commissioner Gary Bettman's allegations that the union's offer -- which included a 24% across-the board rollback of player salaries -- still could lead to significant monetary losses as early as next season.
Bettman compared the union's proposal to a jack-in-the-box, claiming all it would take is a couple of cranks of the handle for the league's temporarily invisible financial woes to pop up again.
"They came forward and based their reaction to our significant proposal by saying they would be right back where they were," Goodenow said. "Well, that's a bunch of hogwash."
After turning their collective thumbs down on the union's offer, Bettman and co. submitted a counter-proposal that the union alleged was rife with statistical errors.
"You have to understand it for what it is. These are just mixed-up numbers that have been put in a blender and diced up. These are a bunch of ridiculous forecasts," an animated Goodenow said.
In an effort to back up their allegations, Goodenow and union senior vice-president Ted Saskin used graphs and charts found on the NHLPA's website that highlighted the NHL's errors in arithmetic.
The union dismissed the NHL's projections that salaries will escalate at a 12.1%-per-year clip while revenues will increase by only 3%. While salaries did go up by 12.1% per year in the past decade, revenues rose an average of 9.4% over that same period.
"All we're saying is you have to compare apples with apples," Saskin said. "Don't take a plug number of 12.1% in players costs, which were experienced during a time of rapid revenue growth in the '90s, and then ignore the revenue number from that same time period."
For its part, the league refused to back off its stance.
"We stand behind the 3% average annual growth projection we used for our modeling, particularly for a business that will be coming out of an extended shutdown," NHL vice-president Bill Daly said in a statement released by the league.
"We do not believe the union's public negotiation with the media warrants any further comment."
With no further meeting planned between the two sides, it appears that Yuletide rhetoric is the only thing NHL fans can expect over the holidays.