SUN Hockey Pool

Owners have the will to wait it out

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

A few executive washrooms might have been trashed yesterday as some team owners got a good look at Gary Bettman's final offer to the players.

Those with modest payrolls, who backed Bettman in shutting down their buildings for five months, did not achieve cost certainty in the proposal, with the offer leaving room for rich teams to increase the salary gap compared with teams with lower payrolls in the course of the six-year deal. Among the dissenters are the Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators and the small market Canadian teams.

Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos said Monday he was willing to sit two more seasons to achieve a system that links payroll to revenue.

"Every time I read something from a journalist and they say 'hockey will never be the same,' we're all praying, 30 owners are praying, it won't be the same," Karmanos told the Raleigh News and Observer. "What, are we going to make it up in volume? Just keep losing money like that? You can't do that. We're, like, trapped. That's why we have 30 owners who are lined up and saying we're going to lose a whole season and maybe another one and maybe another one after that.

"Maybe only 5,000 people will show up at our games. But we won't be losing a billion dollars a season. Is there something about that concept I'm missing?"

Karmanos, who had predicted players would have accepted the last owners' offer had it been a secret vote, then unloaded on players who have used the Hurricanes as scapegoats for the NHL's ills.

"I don't like being called a liar. I don't like being called a cheat," Karmanos said. "We've treated our players outstanding and I don't like them bad-mouthing the Raleigh market and trying to make it seem like the league overexpanded.

"You can imagine how frustrating it is. We've got a nice market, a great building, our fans are the best educated and have the highest per capita income in the entire league. To sit there and have some of these dimbos say the things they said about the market, you can imagine how frustrating it gets."

Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said yesterday that it was too early to say the league is moving away from cost certainty.

"The thing that (Bettman) has said to us is, 'Wait until you see what the whole deal is,' " Rutherford said. "The whole deal means you can't just pick out one or two points."

In Toronto, where it appears the Leafs would still be able to shell out for big contracts under the league offer, club president Richard Peddie said it "has to be the right deal, even for the Leafs. Even our revenues are drying up, believe it or not. We want a deal that's also good for the Leafs."


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