Players were 'brainwashed'

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

Sean Avery has raked his union boss, Bob Goodenow, over the coals, but Gary Bettman might not survive the lockout unscathed either.

The futures of both leaders is already being debated, even before their signatures are applied to a new collective bargaining agreement. With the Players Association giving in on the salary cap, Goodenow is getting the most heat of late, with Los Angeles Kings forward Avery complaining to the Los Angeles Times this week "we were brainwashed" during the lockout, now in its 10th month.

"We burned a year for nothing," Avery said, echoing the comments of Detroit Red Wings player rep Manny Legace last week. "We didn't win anything. We didn't prove anything. We didn't get anything. We wasted an entire season."

Avery told the newspaper that Goodenow "embarrassed" a lot of players.

"I am furious at Bob. Bob thought he was bigger than he was. Bob brainwashed players like me."

Avery added most of the players did not know the "real story" about the directions the talks took over the winter.

"We underestimated how rich the owners were," he said. "Nobody thought they would be willing to burn a season. They won. They beat us."

Goodenow continues to monitor the final phases of the CBA talks, which continued in New York. NHLPA spokesperson Jonathan Weatherdon released a statement late yesterday:

"Whenever a tentative agreement is reached, the (union) will have meetings where all players will be invited to attend and every player's questions will be answered by Bob and the executive committee prior to a ratification vote by the full membership taking place.

"The proposed agreement and everything that has occurred will be reviewed in great detail. Throughout these negotiations, players have received and had more access to information than ever before."

Bettman will no doubt emerge a hero in the eyes of small market teams for bringing in the cap and avenging a perceived owners' defeat in the 1994 CBA war. But there will be a significant number of rich franchises who saw the hardball tactics of a season-long work stoppage as the wrong approach and now aren't thrilled about rebuilding teams with almost half their pre-lockout payroll.

Though the dissenters, likely including the Maple Leafs, Wings and Colorado Avalanche, won't have the will or sufficient numbers to stop approval of a new deal, Bettman is still faced with complaints ranging from the stale game on the ice to lack of TV coverage and exposure in the U.S.

But a change at the top for either group won't be a quick and easy process.

Goodenow has three years remaining on a six-year pact.

Bettman can only be unseated by a majority vote of the 30-member of board of governors.


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