Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow must either get back to the bargaining table or they should both be fired.
That's the opinion of ESPN analyst Darren Pang, a former Ottawa 67's and Chicago Blackhawks goalie, as the opportunity to save the season seems to be slipping away.
Talks have been stalled since the NHL and the NHL Players Association sides exchanged -- and turned down -- offers during meetings last month in Toronto. No further bargaining sessions are planned.
'WITHOUT A FIGHT'
"You'd hope neither side will let this season go down without a fight," said Pang from his Chicago home yesterday. "That's not the hockey mentality. We're used to fighting for everything in this game until the bitter end.
"If these two sides don't do everything they can to try to save this season, then both of these guys (Bettman and Goodenow) should be removed from their positions. If this season isn't saved, then maybe both of these parties need new leadership."
Since Bettman and the NHL's board of governors have refused to give a drop-dead date for the cancellation of the season, it's anybody's guess whether there's still a chance hockey can be played this year.
While the union has steadfastly refused the notion they're going to bring another offer to the table, there has been talk the NHL might present a new offer next week.
"I believe you've got about six or seven days here to make something happen," said Pang. "If you're going to start Feb. 1, you've got to have guys in camp by Jan. 20 if you're going to have a seven- or eight-day camp.
"I just don't know if they can do it. I don't know if they've even got the support staff in the NHL offices right now (with so many people laid off) to make a season happen. They could have a difficult time getting everything set up if something did happen here."
Pang, who has been occupying his time as the director of development of a hockey association in a Chicago suburb, said he's heard little or nothing about the lockout in the United States.
SKATING WITH HAWKS
"I have a hard time even getting to do a radio interview in Chicago because nobody wants to talk about hockey down here until the situation is settled," said Pang, who has skated a couple of times with some Blackhawks.
"I did a two-hour show on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago and we were able to get some good hockey talk in, but other than that I haven't heard much. It's almost like they don't want to talk hockey here because right now it's non-existent.
"But there are people in my neighbourhood who ask me how work is going? I have to tell them I'm not working right now."
A look at the NHL lockout through yesterday:
- Duration of lockout: 120 days.
- Days of 2004-05 season missed: 93.
- Games cancelled yesterday: Five (Carolina at Buffalo, Phoenix at N.Y. Rangers, Nashville at Detroit, Dallas at Edmonton, Los Angeles at San Jose).
- Total Games Cancelled: 618 regular-season games plus the 2005 all-star game.
- Percentage of season cancelled: 50.2% (618 of 1230 games).
- Negotiation status: Nothing to report with no talks scheduled