No-stars in faceoff mode

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

The National Hockey League all-star game was scheduled to be played tomorrow in Atlanta. But the game has been shelved, along with 824 regular-season contests, as the labour impasse approaches five months. However, tradition must survive, so we've picked our Lockout No-Stars, recognizing the men who've contributed so much to so little hockey this year.

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TEAM OWNERS

C Gary Bettman

Deserves credit for sounding the alarm on salaries in the late 1990s and for trying to improve the league's game plan after losing the 1995 lockout.

But his lockout and heavy-handed strategy have not produced a deal, while alienating the players and likely many successful owners. Mostly, he has underestimated his opposition -- again.

LW Bill Daly

Bettman's top lieutenant has been the most respected figure on both sides of this nasty business. He has scored some media points where Bettman and Goodenow have forfeited them. Might wind up as captain of the team some day.

RW Jeremy Jacobs

The Bruins' frugal owner claimed many of his peers "feel the high-priced players don't necessarily play every day. They're comfortable ... they don't have to fight for the position." Several players, led by his own captain, Joe Thornton, returned the fire.

LD Richard Peddie

The president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., was one of the execs who maintained that the offer of a 24% rollback by the players -- with the Canadian dollar soaring -- would be bad for a $61-million US payroll. The immediate savings to the Leafs would have been close to $15 million, yet Peddie wasn't sold.

RD Steve Belkin

One of the Atlanta Thrashers owners, he was fined $250,000 for saying in October replacement players would be used if there was no CBA, a move Daly hinted strongly at on Thursday.

G Corey Hirsch

After the NHLPA's invasion of Europe bumped him from his regular gig in Switzerland, he accused the union of adopting a double standard in refusing a cap at home, then taking jobs overseas.

TEAM NHLPA

C Bob Goodenow

Scrappy captain of the militant union makes many enemies and comes off as arrogant in the media. But he has kept more than 700 players onside, smacking dissenters who dare mention salary caps and replacement players in a fair light. However, this deadline-hunter might be past his shelf life.

LW Ted Saskin

Lippy lawyer does a lot of the cornerwork for Goodenow and will cross the line to hack at Bettman. But he is more media savvy than the boss and good at exposing owners' weaknesses.

RW Trevor Linden

The respected veteran's peace efforts helped keep the hope for hockey alive this late. Often the lightning rod for the fans' anger at high salaries and other ills of the game, he has grown into the NHLPA presidency.

LD Chris Chelios

Should a 43-year-old have this much fun? Critical of his own union for pressuring free agents to go to the highest bidder and complaining about "ridiculous" high salaries, he then lashed out at Bettman's cap.

He went bobsledding to start the lockout and now has taken some poor stiff's job with the Motor City Mechanics, where UHL team salaries are capped at $10,500.

RD Bob Boughner

Representative of the post '95 lockout mentality, the journeyman had done well by the old CBA and took a pay cut with Colorado to $1.25 million, reflecting new market forces. A member of the PA executive, he was not happy about making a further 24% salary rollback offer. "All we've done is give and give and give," he said. "Enough is enough."

G Robert Esche

The Flyers stopper zinged Bettman during the players' autumn pep rally. "We're talking to a madman," Esche said. Personally, I don't even think he's a fan of the game." Esche later apologized.


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