War of words

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

With the death of the 2004-05 season still fresh, both the NHL Players' Association and NHL board of governors today will attempt to wash away the lingering stench.

But since few expect negotiations between the two sides to resume any time soon, it won't be easy.

The NHLPA will continue a meeting in Toronto that began with dinner last night.

It was thought, at the very least, there would be heated questions for some of the game's big-name players, specifically Chris Pronger of the St. Louis Blues, Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames and Jeremy Roenick of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ottawa Senators centre Bryan Smolinski told The Ottawa Sun yesterday more than a few players would like to hear why Pronger and the others called NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly last month when talks were going nowhere.

"I know a lot of guys will be asking Pronger (and Roenick) exactly what their motivation was and what they were trying to do," said Smolinski, who is not at the meeting. "If they have the (guts) to call Bill Daly, then they should have the (guts) to stand up in front of us and explain what they were trying to do and why exactly they did it. I'm pretty sure guys are going to demand an explanation."

More than 250 players are expected to be at the meeting.

In New York, the NHL's board of governors will gather in the same room for the first time since commissioner Gary Bettman announced last September the clubs' owners were locking out the players.

The contingent representing the Maple Leafs will include Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. chairman of the board and governor Larry Tanenbaum, MLSEL president Richard Peddie, alternate governor Dean Metcalf and general manager John Ferguson.

Many figure the NHL's rich clubs, such as the Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche, will have a few choice words for the financially struggling outfits, such as the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators, and vice versa.

"I don't know if fireworks is the right word," Peddie said of the possible atmosphere. "We're going in with an open mind. Our job is to champion the Leafs' point of view."

Roenick has acknowledged to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper that he was in a group that included Pronger and Iginla who asked some of their union brothers whether they would accept a salary cap without linkage to revenues.

Union boss Bob Goodenow, one would think, will be asked to further explain the sudden willingness to play under a cap.

Meanwhile, Flyers GM Bob Clarke yesterday took a major shot at Goodenow.

"Someone has to grab Goodenow by the throat and tell him: 'Look after the Canadian cities, the majority of the players still come from Canada.' It's our sport and to me Goodenow has shown no interest in helping build the game," Clarke told the Canadian Press. "He has done nothing but take from the game. And now he's fighting for power."

Said Goodenow: "Bob's comments are way off base. As Bob well knows, Gary Bettman and his owners group have been firmly in control. They have made every decision about expansion, franchise moves, playing rules, officiating, and marketing, while rejecting all input from players."


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