SUN Hockey Pool

Get it fixed, get it right

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:27 PM ET

CALGARY -- Forget the quick fix. Get it fixed. There's the potential here to make a such a mess of trying to put Humpty Dumpty together again that all the Zambonis in the world won't be able to clean it up. It's a big enough mess as it is.

What's wrong with losing the season if the game gets fixed and comes back healthy and strong instead of a quickly thrown-together mini-season that doesn't cure anything.

And what will it say if Wayne Gretzky and a posse of players and owners can ride into New York and do it in a day?

What will it say if a season which was called off after so many days without play can get going again overnight?

How will hockey fans feel if they were made to suffer for five months when it could all have been solved in 24 hours?

I'm not sure this doesn't make hockey look worse than three days ago when the sport became the first major pro sport in North America to call off a season from beginning to end.

And what sense does it make if you've got the players where you want them and let them off the hook to do another bad deal - a deal which from initial indications would put the Edmonton Oilers and teams in the same boat - in trouble again.

BIG SPENDERS

The take-it-or-leave-it $42.5-million US salary cap Gary Bettman produced, if it ends up at $45 million, is going to leave the Oilers $10 million or more back of the big spenders.

Oiler salaries were $35 million last year - a year when they were flush because of the phenomenal success of the Heritage Classic outdoor hockey game.

How strange it is when a season is called off and it's good news for the Oilers and a season is back on and it might be a death sentence.

The bottom line for Edmonton fans - as it has allegedly been for Gary Bettman all along - is that a franchise like the Oilers would be able to compete and keep its players past the age of 31. If that doesn't happen here, then maybe Bettman should be strung up before Bob Goodenow, who by all reports has a 750-man lynch mob after him after this.

After all, Goodenow sold one thing to the players all the way: that in the end ownership will capitulate. In the end they didn't.

And then three days later, to some extent, maybe they do?

BEYOND BELIEF

In Canada the reaction against the players after the season was squashed was beyond belief. In Calgary, the Sun's front page headline screamed "Bring On The Replacement Players.''

Considering the entitlement they've illustrated throughout the past decade and particularly through this entire deal, I was kind of looking forward to enjoying the summer watching them squirm, weren't you?

And if the league comes back with a half-assed solution and put back together with binder twine and bailing wire and band-aids, do you think the fans will forgive or forget?

No matter what happens here, Canada's relationship with their hockey heroes is never going to be the same.

And from a mental-health point of view, hadn't the country just managed to get used to the idea that they were going to live through a year without hockey, when it's all fired up and they're going to go through this all again?

But let's wait until this unfolds, shall we.

Remember, all it takes is eight votes. And while rumours were running rampant last night that they were down to five hard-liners last night, including Edmonton, there were so many wild rumours floating around that nobody knew what to believe for sure.

So many people in hockey had the deal done last Tuesday night, remember?

Surely somebody involved understands that Humpty Dumpty needs to be properly put back together.

Gary?


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