Lowe, LaForge respond

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

More reaction from the Kevin Lowe/Patrick LaForge news conference yesterday.

- Q: ARE YOU CONCERNED FOR THE FUTURE OF THE GAME, GIVEN THE TERRIBLE BEATING IT'S TAKING RIGHT NOW?

LOWE: "It's a great game. You know it and I know it. I believe the fans will be back. There's a lot of work for everyone involved in the game - players included - when we are back on the ice, to win back the favour of the fans. I don't think fans go and watch the game because the players are good guys or the owners are good guys. They go and watch because it's a great game. And it will survive."

- Q: WAS THE NHL'S FINAL OFFER, A $42.5-MILLION SALARY CAP, A WORKABLE NUMBER FOR THE OILERS, WHO SPENT ABOUT $33 MILLION LAST YEAR?

LOWE: "All that is off the table now, so we're not going to talk about it."

LaFORGE: "There hasn't been a proposal put forward by the NHL that the Edmonton Oilers haven't participated in, in design and support. So that tells you all you need to know."

- Q: WHAT WILL THE IMPACT OF A LOST SEASON BE ON EDMONTON AND THE EDMONTON BUSINESS COMMUNITY?

LaFORGE: "I know the franchise is, in most recent research by Economic Development Edmonton, somewhere in the $50 million-plus range benefit to the community over winter. That's the cash you can capture. But the city and the economy is just flying right now. We're on the world stage in the heavy oil business and the Oilers, to me, seem to be a natural part of that mix - of being AAA World Class. We have people moving here from all over the world and NHL hockey to them is an important ingredient in that lifestyle. It's more than tickets and cheeseburgers and pizzas and Coca-Colas, Molsons and Fords."

- Q: WHAT HAPPENS TO THE REMAINING OILERS STAFF (THEY'VE ALREADY LAID OFF 30% OF THEIR WORKFORCE, FROM 95 TO 60)?

LaFORGE: "The owners have not put any more pressure on us than the (restructuring) plan we presented to them last fall. I'm not looking to lose any more people. We want to keep them and we're going to try and keep them busy."

- Q: HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO PLAYERS' CRITICISM OF GARY BETTMAN?

LOWE: "He cares for the game, he understands the game, he cares for the kids playing the game, he cares about everything in the game. Throughout this whole process there have been some really distasteful things said about him that are unprofessional and unacceptable. For that I'm sorry. I really am, because he and Bill Daly have the game's best interests at heart. I think support for Gary (among ownership) is and has been unanimous."

- Q: THE EDMONTON MARKET IS ONE WHERE A RESPONSIBLE BUDGET AND REALISTIC PAYROLL WORKS - THE TEAM IS DECENT, EVERYBODY'S MAKING GOOD MONEY. SO WHY HAVE THE OILERS BEEN SOME OF THE MOST OUTSPOKEN PLAYERS AGAINST A CAP?

LOWE: My personal view is that they haven't been given all the information.

LaFORGE: Kevin said it best. I hope that they're informed enough to make these kinds of decisions ... but I'm not so sure. I think there's an opportunity for information upgrade."


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