TORONTO -- Bob Goodenow drove the NHL Players' Association bus over the cliff yesterday and told the passengers to enjoy the view.
After meeting into the wee hours of yesterday morning -- in a session that sometimes got heated -- members of the NHLPA decided to accept the new collective bargaining agreement and get on with their lives.
While there were no punches thrown, Toronto tough guy Tie Domi did dress down Los Angeles thug Sean Avery for his comments that the players were "brainwashed" by Goodenow. Domi also took shots at Manny Legace.
"I admire a guy like Avery for being here," said Domi. "I think what went on behind closed doors should remain behind closed doors, but I didn't like the timing of what he said.
"I don't think a guy who has played 100 games in the league should be saying those kinds of things.
"As for Manny Legace, I didn't even see him here. He's been saying a lot of things. I don't know about him. I checked the records and I saw that he played 10 games the year the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup and Dominik Hasek played 72. I don't know what that says about Manny Legace."
The word is goaltender Steve Shields also had some pointed questions for Goodenow and president Trevor Linden because players are disgusted with the fact the NHLPA has accepted a salary cap with a link to revenues.
It should be noted St. Louis defenceman Chris Pronger, who has been accused of trying to broker a deal with the NHL without the union's approval in February, sat quietly through the meeting.
"There were guys who were pissed off," said Ottawa centre Mike Fisher. "We said coming into this we'd never accept a salary cap and we accepted a salary cap. They wanted to know why and how that happened."
ESCROW AN ISSUE
But the biggest issue in the meeting was the players' decision to accept putting money into an escrow account that can be funneled back to the owners if the expenses exceed a 54% linkage to revenues.
Not only are the players not sure how much of their salary they are going to give up, a source indicated they weren't given much hope they were going to get it back if every team decides to spend the cap of $39 million (all figures US).
"That was the one thing that was the most talked about ... probably the biggest issue. Everybody wanted to know how the escrow is going to work," said Los Angeles Kings centre Craig Conroy.
"You look at the numbers and it is what it is. Right now, it's not a set number. We're tied into a 54% linkage.
"If we are over that, then there will be no money in escrow. If we are under that, then there will be money in escrow.
"It all depends on how the players and owners get together to get the fans back. If we can do that, then we're not going to have to worry about the money that goes into escrow."
In the end, the players had little choice but to accept the deal and move forward. This is kind of like the kid who has to take his nasty medicine so he closes his eyes, plugs his noses and swallows.
Still, many wondered why it took this long.
"People can look back and say 'Why didn't we offer this in December?' " said Toronto defenceman Bryan McCabe. "But this probably wasn't available in December or even February. It is what it is and we have to move on.
"Will this deal get better down the road if we turn it down? We've burned a season so is it really worth burning a second one? You really have to wonder."