'They can all go to hell'

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

They can all go to hell. Excuse the unprofessionalism, but I am not typing this simply as a sportswriter who loves covering the NHL and all the perks (the free admission, the all expense paid road trips, the relationships) that come with the job.

And right now I'm not all that worried about what assignments I'll draw from this paper's sports editor in the aftermath of C-Day.

I'm thinking more as a true and now blue hockey fan. And frankly, I've never been more frustrated or disgusted. I'm just glad for an outlet, because as hokey as it sounds, I feel like the anger inside is going to make my chest explode.

I used to mostly blame Brainwasher Bob Goodenow and his loyal band of wealthy ingrates for the impasse with the NHL that has deprived me and countless others of our favourite winter hobby -- watching the world's best players play the world's best game.

I used to rant and rave and fume over the millionaires' refusal to play by the billionaires' rules.

But over the past 36 hours or so, the players have managed to spread my hatred just by being hypocrites.

"We'll never, ever accept a salary cap." How many did you hear say that?

Well, they sure ate their words without seemingly caring about the egg left on their faces.

They buckled to the league's demands -- and still Gary Bettman couldn't/wouldn't close a deal to get them back on the ice.

Hence, I've given in to the belief the owners never planned on re-opening their business this season.

Look elsewhere to read about the details of the proposals, of linkage and cost certainty and rollbacks and all that other crap. Let others analyze what the final cap offers of $42.5 million (owners) and $49 million (players) really mean.

All I know is that with the owners' proposal, every player on a 20-man roster could make more than $2 million (US) a season.

I have worked at the Sun for 17 years. At my salary today, it would take me 40 years to make $2 million (Cdn.). And I'm quite okay with that.

I have friends who played in the NHL before it shut down. Great guys.

But I swear, next time one of them complains about the owners' offer, he better be carrying a rag because I'm going to puke on his shoes.

IS CAP A CEILING?

And am I stupid, or are the owners? Doesn't the word 'cap' mean ceiling? Doesn't it signify the most money one would be allowed to spend on salaries?

Gee, I've got an idea -- why didn't the owners give in to the 'PA's first proposal of a $52 million cap -- hell, make it $75 million -- then individually refuse to spend anywhere near that amount?

Because they have to keep up with the Joneses to stay competitive? Bull. The Rangers used to spend more than twice as much as other teams and missed the playoffs for six straight seasons. But that was the old days.

Now the owners are on the same page, right? Now they'll be able to contain their urges, because they all understand where the league is headed if they don't. They're not children. Surely, they can control themselves. Uh-huh.

"Every pro sports league owes its very existence to its fans," Bettman said. "We owe ours an apology for the situation we find ourselves in today. We are truly sorry."

Clearly, that's hogwash, yet it was echoed at press conferences held by Canadian teams throughout the day, like there was a script handed out at a rehearsal in September or something. Sincerity like that is almost matched by all the players you've heard saying "we just want to get back to playing hockey" the last few months.

Funny, if the owners are so sorry and the players just want to play, why didn't Bettman and Brainwasher Bob start working on an agreement a long time ago? Why did the two sides go so long without talking to each other? They didn't see this coming? Were they also surprised Christmas fell on Dec. 25?

All the money these people are fighting over is the stuff coming from your pockets ... and the cancellation of this NHL season proves they're most interested in their own bloated bank accounts and don't really give a damn about the game or the fans at all.

Bring on the replacement players - if only because there's nobody lining up to be replacement owners, either. And hopefully we've also seen the last of Bettman and Brainwasher Bob.

For what has happened to the game and for the B.S. they've all fed us along the way, they can all go to hell.


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