SUN Hockey Pool

Bob gives agents earful

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

TORONTO -- NHL player agents are used to getting their cut once they have finished contract negotiations.

Yesterday, sources say, some of them were cut down to size by NHL union boss Bob Goodenow for meddling in collective bargaining negotiations between the PA and the league.

During a four-hour meeting yesterday at a downtown hotel between agents and Goodenow, sources say the latter told agents he has a plan to end the lockout but refused to tell them what it is.

In other words: Mind your own business.

WON'T NAME NAMES

While Goodenow wouldn't name the agents he's most miffed at, he did note that they were not on hand yesterday.

Goodenow said the agents had "done damage" to the process by going behind the NHLPA's back to speak with owners and players when negotiations were in the 11th hour and the season was about to be cancelled.

While Goodenow wasn't naming names, an agent who was at the meeting took some shots of his own.

Edmonton-based agent Ritch Winter, after hearing Goodenow's take on what happened during the final stages of negotiations to end the lockout, defended the NHLPA's stance and said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners were crazy not to accept the union's deal.

"You've got Bob Goodenow Inc. on one side, which is trying to do the right thing by offering changes to the system to help the teams be successful and changes to make the game better," said a fiery Winter.

"Then, you've got Gary Bettman Inc. on the other side, which has just thrown away $1.8 billion (US) in revenues and is on the verge of destroying the game we all love.

'BASKETBALL EXECUTIVES'

"I'm trying to understand why we've got these basketball executives running this league and they're losing millions of dollars. It just doesn't make any sense. They've done damage to the game and they've lost a major television deal in the United States. If I was an owner, I'd be voting for Bob Goodenow Inc. because at least his deal makes sense."

But, as of right now, there are no deals being offered.

"The one thing you know when you're involved in negotiations is once you have trust on both sides, you're able to get a deal done," said agent Mark Gandler. "You know that when you have trust you're going to be able to get all the other issues worked out.

"In this case, there's a lot of mistrust and perhaps more than ever ... especially after (the Feb. 19) meeting in New York."

Meanwhile, there was some discussion about replacement players. Agent Don Meehan said while there was healthy debate on the subject, a couple of agents indicated they wouldn't represent anyone who crossed the line.

"If somebody told me they were going to cross, we'd find shackles to keep them from going," said Winter with a smile.


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