SUN Hockey Pool

Harsh words no surprise

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Ken Klee is getting tired of hearing Peter Karmanos whine.

The Maple Leafs defenceman sounded exasperated last night upon hearing that Karmanos has a "gut feeling" the season is over.

"(Karmanos) is the same guy who has thrown the most negative comments out there to date, saying he is losing less money by not playing than if the season was going on.

"Well, if he can't hack it, maybe he should sell the team," Klee said during an interview from his Colorado home.

FRAMEWORK

Karmanos claims his Carolina Hurricanes lost $10 million US last season, but Klee hardly is sympathetic.

The veteran blue liner said the union's proposal last month of a 24% salary rollback across the board should have been more than enough fodder for a framework under which most owners could succeed.

"We turned back the clock, put salaries back a few years with our offer and gave them money to work with," he said. "It's up to them to balance their chequebooks. To say they can't control themselves is ludicrous. It's crazy for them to say, 'We're not responsible enough to balance our chequebooks.' "

"Thus far it has been a non-stop giving spree by the players, and it's not enough for them. It just boggles the mind that they are going to flush (the season) down the toilet."

Klee said if a couple of franchises cannot survive a free market system, maybe they should not be in business.

"I'd hate to see the number of teams in the league reduced," he said. "But if a couple of small-market teams can't make it, maybe a couple have to go.

"I feel sorry for Leaf fans. All this (league) talk about preserving the health of some of the (small-market teams) ... that's hardly a predicament the Leafs or their fans are in."

Maple Leafs players rep Bryan McCabe was not surprised about the gloom and doom spread by Karmanos.

"If (the NHL's) intention is to call off the season, then they should just come out and officially announce it," he said. "We don't want to see that happen, but at least it would bring closure to a lot of people."

Philadelphia Flyers captain Keith Primeau feels the league has been preparing for a lengthy shutdown for a long time.

"That's why they started stocking up their war chest years ago," Primeau said last night.

"(Karmanos) is not shocking anyone with what he is saying. I think he is just stating the obvious, the inevitable. It's extremely unfortunate, but even with the short time left to save the season they don't want to negotiate."

Detroit Red Wings goalie Curtis Joseph shared Primeau's sentiments.

"(The NHL) just doesn't seem to want to budge," he said.


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