NEW YORK - Keep your mouths shut.
That was the message to the NHL governors during a meeting Thursday as commissioner Gary Bettman prepared to shut down the league Saturday at 11:59 p.m. when the collective bargaining agreement expires.
The board met at the law offices of Proskauer Rose in Times Square, but the governors were nowhere to be seen later when Bettman held a news conference nearby at the Crowne Plaza hotel.
If they do speak publicly, the governors could be fined or lose draft picks as punishment.
"We have bylaw 17.17 which doesn't enable anybody to speak on this subject except me or (deputy commissioner) Bill Daly," Bettman said. "We do that because we are the most able to address these issues.
"Frankly, in this era of digital media, we will be responding to stories non-stop, most of which will be not accurate or will be out of context, and we're much more comfortable -- as we did throughout this process -- taking a low-key approach to the public relations aspect of this.
"We know we haven't been out there campaigning or hammering or doing whatever. We think the negotiations have to take place across the table and directly."
Bettman said he has the support of the governors.
"The league is not willing to move forward with another season under the status quo which is the collective bargaining agreement that is expiring," he said.