No alternate NHL schedule in works yet: Bettman
LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
|NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media in Toronto on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 after talks to avert an NHL work stoppage ended for the day.
TORONTO - Some NHL teams have already cancelled rookie tournaments, while September exhibition games would be next on the chopping block.
But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there is no plan yet to produce a compressed schedule in case a lockout starts cancelling regular season games in October.
“We haven’t even focused on what the timing should be, because my hope is we make a deal on a timely basis,” Bettman said Thursday, as a three-week countdown to a shutdown began.
“We don’t want a work stoppage, but if we don’t have a (collective bargaining) deal, we feel we have no choice. We recovered well last time (when 2004-05 was scrubbed) because we have the world’s greatest fans.”
NHL players who joined union boss Donald Fehr at the end of Thursday’s brief bargaining session insisted they want a deal for themselves and fans, but are prepared for a battle of wills to get it. The public perception is that any lockout won’t go past Jan. 1, the date of the popular Winter Classic between the Red Wings and the Leafs.
“We want to play, but we also want a fair deal,” said forward Maxime Talbot of the Philadelphia Flyers. “Obviously guys are thinking about what they’re going to do if there is no hockey. We did a little bit of (saving) with our escrow money from last year.
“Players were willing to come back and play under this deal. I think the game is really healthy last year and the last few years. At least (the sides) are still talking.”
Rangers’ goaltender Martin Biron has been through this dance before in ‘04-05 when he sat the whole year.
“It’s a process and no one has a crystal ball,” Biron said. “We continue to put the work in to get a fair deal for the players, the league, the fans, for everybody. But no one really knows where this is going to go.”